I’ve talked a lot about how hard money has been for me. How it’s made me anxious a lot of the last few years, or how I worked five part-time jobs to pay off my debt. Now it’s time to share how I started a business for less than $2,000.
Bravely has no investors, no grants, and no partners. Bravely is 100% funded through money I have personally saved.
I first had the idea for Bravely in March 2016. At the time, I was binge-reading stories of female entrepreneurs. I read about women who had managed to claw their way to the top of the business world like it was my job. I wanted what they had — a business that provided for me, and meant I could afford the lifestyle I dreamt of living.
Much as I read, I noticed a common thread about all the articles. None of them spoke to the financials of how did these women funded their lives while starting a business.
Where did they get the money to pay rent while they ran their clothing empire out of their bedroom? How much upfront cash did it take to start that baby product company, and where did that cash come from? How did they meet investors? Did their partner pay the bills while they spent 18 hours a day on their passion project? What were the financial realities of starting a business?
That’s when the seed for Bravely was planted. I wanted to create a platform where women could learn from other women in business. There needed to be a place where a woman could go to find the hard numbers on what it’s like to start a clothing company, as well as tools to pay down her student loans. I wanted to see actionable advice for women to get their money right. I felt like it didn’t exist anywhere and so I figured: I can do that.
The Start Up Costs
Now let’s remember — I’ve never held a full-time job. I was working as a freelancer and part-time caterer when I decided to pursue this idea. I’m still in both of those positions today. I didn’t have to walk away from a high-powered, well-paying job to start my company. There was no uprooting my life to start my company. All I needed was an LLC, a new website and domain name, and a name for the company.
I live in Texas, where it costs $308 to start an LLC without a lawyer’s help. I had a personal finance blog that I’d written for two years. In December 2016, I sold that blog for a few thousand dollars and used that money to start my business finances. I also saved an additional $1,500 into that business account. I use my old blog’s hosting plan for my new website, which I paid for in 2016. I paid a lawyer $900 to create contracts for my events and terms of service for my website.
In total, I started a business for around $1,450. (I don’t include internet as a start-up cost, as I would pay for that regardless.)
I’ll also mention that I live with my long-term boyfriend. We don’t share money and split all costs 50/50. I have to meet my half of rent and utilities each month — he won’t be covering any expenses for me as I pursue Bravely. I also don’t receive any support from my mother, or any other family member.
In 2015, I paid off all my student loans, so I’m debt-free. This makes things a little easier. I can funnel more personal money into Bravely since I don’t have to make a debt payment. When I made the decision to create Bravely, I started saving right away. I crunch the numbers as I saved over the first month, and created the company after saving for three months.
Still, my personal finance priorities sometimes feel in opposition to my business finance priorities. I want to contribute to my retirement accounts (an IRA and a solo 401k), but each time I sock a dollar away there, I’m taking a dollar from my business. Building a personal financial cushion while also building a company is very difficult.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m insane to have started a business with such a small amount of capital. I’m still focusing primarily on personal savings goals too. Am I shooting myself in the foot by saving for retirement instead of building my business cash reserves? Is it crazy to start a business by myself, when I still have to cater to pay my bills? Am I taking my earning potential and throwing it down the drain by striking out on my own, instead of finding a traditional job?
Ultimately, I’m doing something that I love, and that I believe in. I know that there is a need for what Bravely does, and I’m thrilled to be the one who fills that need. Working on Bravely gets me excited, which tells me I’m doing the right thing.