When I talk about how to start a business or the benefits of owning your business rather than working for someone else’s, people often leap to the conclusion that I’m talking about building the next Facebook.
I am not talking about building the next Facebook.
On the other hand, if you think you have what it takes to build the next Facebook, or Uber, or Google, then good for you. Make it happen. And then let me know how you did it.
But for the average 9-to-5’er who dreams of breaking free from the daily grind, there are very tangible and very attainable ways to make this happen. And no, you don’t need $1,000,000 in funding first. Or $100,000. You don’t even need $1000.
How to Start a Business With No Money
Earning money is simple. If you can create value, you can earn money. We learn this as children, when completing chores or mowing a lawn or selling lemonade brought in that much sought after cold hard cash. The principle doesn’t change that much when you’re a grown-up. Do you have skills that other people lack? Are you willing to do work that other people shy away from? Do you have knowledge that other people seek?
When you have something that someone else needs, you’ve created value. When you’ve created value, you can earn money. Or exchange it for something you equally value, but that’s drifting too far off topic for today. Figuring out how you can provide value to earn money requires your brain, a pen and a notebook. Cost? $2.50 (plus your superior brainpower).
Tell People You Can Create Value
Tell people about your valuable thing, and how it’s for sale. People can’t buy it if they don’t know it exists. Starting a grocery delivery business? Let the people know. Tell them what you have to offer, and tell them how to get in touch with you. Keep it simple initially by creating or updating your LinkinedIn page, or Facebook page, or About.me page. Cost? $0. Pure sweat equity. And at some point you’ll need to evaluate this as well, but not just yet. Not when you’ve just started the journey.
Understand What Has Value For You
Everyone has a set of misconceptions about what they “need” to start a business. Why we have this clutter in our brains is debatable. Too many Hollywood tropes perhaps, that stick in our heads and prevent us from distiguishing between reality and fantasy. You don’t need a glass corner office in a high-rent district to start a business. You don’t need employees, at least not right away. You don’t even need business cards. You likely need a computer, or access to one. But it doesn’t need to be the best computer money can buy.
Make a list of what you absolutely need to create the value that you’re going to get paid for; not what you think you should have, or what would be cool to have, but what you need to get from point A (value realized) to point B (money received). If you’re starting a grocery delivery service, then you likely need a car. But you don’t need a Land Rover.
Understand what has real value in helping you meet your goals, and let go of optical value which exists only to impress people that you shouldn’t care about impressing. This is probably the most critical lesson for starting and running a business.
A continual process of separating substance from flash, and truth from bullshit.