How to Start a Business for Less Than $5,000


How to Start a Business for Less Than $5,000 – September 30, 2011

Liz Elting, CEO of TransPerfect, a provider of language services and translation-related technologies, is living proof that you don't need deep pockets to start a successful business. She started her business in 1992 out of her college dorm room with a $5,000 credit card advance.

Today, TransPerfect is a family of companies with revenue of more than $250 million annually and has offices in more than 70 cities on five continents.

Elting is one of the five entrepreneurs BusinessNewsDaily caught up with who tell us how they started their businesses for less than $5,000.

Liz Elting, CEO of TransPerfect, said the company took it slow in the beginning.

"For the first six months, co-CEO Phil Shawe and I ran TransPerfect out of a dorm room," Elting said. "We sent out mass mailings of marketing material and made hundreds of calls to bring in business. Our strategy was to wait to do things until we could afford to do them."

They used their $5,000 credit card advance finance a $40-per-month computer and they bought a $600 fax machine to send out hundreds of letters to potential clients.

After six months, the two invested in a real office space, but they waited two years before they hired their first employee to make sales calls and perform data entry.

Elting said that when you're starting with a small budget, the most important thing to do is bring in the business.

"Most people get caught up in the business plan and lawyers and accountants, but if you get the clients first, you'll find a way to get the work done in the best possible way," she told BusinessNewsDaily. "Action — not planning — is what leads to success. That's not to say that planning has no value, but a perfect plan gets you nowhere without execution. The advice I would give to others is to act now, not later."

Elting said that if she had it to do all over again, she would start with the same small budget.

"I think that doing things the way we did forced us to make important decisions about what was necessary and what was a luxury," she said. "In hindsight, it all looks a little precarious to think that we had such a small amount of money in our war chest at the time, but I think we might have made some financially reckless decisions if we had more money with which to work. We’re a stronger company having come from such humble beginnings.

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