Why Doesn’t Everyone Quit Their Job

Quitting Your JobIf it’s so great, why doesn’t everybody do it?

If that thought has ever crossed your mind while considering working for yourself, you’re not alone. I get asked this question time and again. Even more frequently, people don’t ask, they just skeptically assume that I do what I do as a temporary measure, until I ‘find a real job’. Well, it’s been 12 years, so I guess their definition of temporary is a little different than mine.

5 Obstacles to Being Your Own Boss

People cling to the 9-to-5 paycheck for a few reasons. And those reasons are not insignificant. They’re exactly what distinguishes the non-employed (but not unemployed) from the employed.

The Comfort Zone

It’s all they know, and they’re comfortable with the model. A paycheck appears every two weeks that pays JUST enough to pay the bills. Or, for those at the top of the food chain, pays the bills and affords them a comfortable lifestyle. Not rich, never rich, but comfortable.

Let’s not understate the harsh reality of self-employment. There is no paycheck. Ever. The only money you get is the money you generate from the work that you generate. That’s a considerable downside for many people.

The upside? The amount of money you get is the amount of money you generate from the amount of work that you generate. You don’t need to wait for a bonus, or a promotion, or the benevolence of someone above you on the corporate ladder. And there will always be someone above you on the corporate ladder.

You don’t need to perpetually bite your tongue or swallow your opinions to ensure that you’re always “on the good side” of your boss. If you quit your job and work for yourself, the amount of money you make is only limited by how hard you’re willing to work.

The Fear Factor That Kills Solopreneurship

The primary reason people stay exactly in the place they’ve been put in or stumbled into is that they’re afraid of change. Why? Because change doesn’t guarantee success, or improvement, or a better result. Change only guarantees difference. And difference may be good, but it can also be bad. Very, very bad. Why take a leap forward in the dark, when you can stay exactly where you are? Miserable, maybe, but it’s a known misery.

If you quit your job, what happens next? No one knows. Pretend you have a friend or colleague who quit their job to become a virtual project manager. They start slowly, get a few steady clients, and eventually build up their reputation and network over time. They get so busy that they start contracting out some of the work to take on even more clients. Success!

So you decide, great, and you quit your job to start an online business. Will you be successful? I don’t know. Maybe. Online work is on the rise and is expected to continue to increase over the next number of years. That would indicate a good chance of success.

But then again, maybe not. Maybe you’re not very good at what you do. Maybe you don’t work as hard as your friend. Maybe you haven’t thought about how to deliver your services efficiently and effectively.

The point is, when you work for yourself, it’s all on you. Does that thought scare you, or reassure you? That’s the inner voice you should be listening to. Do you want to be taken care of, or do you want to take care of yourself?

Commitment Needed to Be Your Own Boss

People know it requires more effort than they’re willing to give. They don’t necessarily admit this to themselves, but ultimately this is the root cause of a lot of inaction. Committment equals effort, and lack of effort is easier.

The path of least resistance will never travel parallel to the path to success.

The good news is that if you have the committment, you can reap the reward. Go to Google and search for successful entrepreneurs and read their stories. I bet you won’t find any that say “it was really easy, I was literally an overnight success, and it didn’t take an ounce of hard work”.

Commitment is something you need to assess at the outset, and then constantly revisit if you quit your job to work for yourself. You won’t have the luxury of calling in sick when you don’t feel like working; or taking a few weeks vacation and ignoring your email and voice messages while you’re gone.

Are you the type of person that leaves the office at 5pm every day, regardless of what you’re in the middle of doing?  Do you take a sick day every couple of months, whether you need it or not?  That isn’t reality when you work for yourself.

Criticism is Easier Than Ownership

It’s easier to sit on the sidelines and criticize. Always. Something I’ve noticed is that the biggest cynics, your biggest critics, aren’t those who have tried and failed, but those who have never even tried. Why?

No one likes to admit to cowardice. Much better to say that they had the “insight” to avoid a mistake, than to admit they were too afraid to make the attempt.

Admitting that you want this, that you really want this, but you’re afraid to try will help you take those next steps.  What are you afraid of?  Write it down. Then break it down.

Afraid of failure?  How do you define failure?  Not becoming a millionaire?  Not being able to pay your bills?  Not getting even one client?  How do you mitigate failure?  Start with clients and customers.  Work on securing your first sale before you’ve left the safety of your current nest.  Write it down.  Develop a plan.

A Little Narcissism is a Good Thing

If you’ve decided to spread your wings and go out on your own, then yes, you need to be a little narcissistic. Frankly if you spend too much time thinking about others and not enough time dwelling on yourself, you’re not going to be in the business of building a business. Think Donald Trump. But dialed back to reasonable scale. You’re just trying to build a life for yourself after all, not an empire.

There’s also an inherent danger in too much narcissism. Some people are stopped in their tracks from pursuing their dreams because they’re too focused on their own specialness. They truly believe that their circumstances are so incredibly unique, and so incredibly difficult, and so incredibly complex, that they can’t possibly do what others have done because those others just have it so much easier than them.

Really? Business owners don’t have spouses and children and parents and siblings and family commitments? Business owners aren’t busy? They don’t work hard? They don’t go to the gym or play hockey or go to their kids’ soccer games or have social obligations?

The truth is, you’re not that special. Neither am I. Neither are most people that are making a living working for themselves, working from home, running online businesses, running small businesses, freelancing, and otherwise generating their own income.  That’s good news.  It means there’s no reason that you can’t do the same.  If you want it, you can do it.


The biggest barriers to starting your own business aren’t external. It’s not money and resources and time that stop you before you even get out of the gate. It’s our own internal fears and doubts and constructs and rationalizations that keep us tethered to a situation. Breaking down those mental barriers are usually your first challenge.

It’s a little more complicated than “believe in yourself”, but being honest with yourself, examining what makes you tick, admitting your fears, and challenging your assumptions will move you forward. Get unstuck. Or, at the very least, conclude that maybe being stuck is where you’re happiest.



5 First Steps to Becoming Self-Employed

Self-employed home office

Many people dream about being self-employed and making money on their own terms. No more bosses, no more bullshit. But you can dream all day, and that won’t change your circumstances. The only one who can change your circumstances is you. It doesn’t need to be drastic or dramatic. Drama is best saved for the world of entertainment, not your professional career.  So you want to be your own boss? Let’s action that.

Start Small

I find people have pre-conceived notions of what “starting a business” means. Generally it’s whatever they’ve been fed in their daily diets of tech blogs and silicon valley success stories.

But there’s a big broad world of microcosms beyond those boundaries. Small businesses strive and thrive everywhere. With digital mediums and online marketing providing a lower cost of entry than ever before, people everywhere are making money for themselves.

If you’re an employee looking to step off the treadmill, do so at a reasonable pace. You don’t need to build the next Google. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the thought of renting office space, hiring employees, investing huge quantities of money just to ‘test’ whether your idea will work.

Start with what you can accomplish without a huge investment. Want to start a catering business? Cater a few small events initially for friends/acquaintances. Want to start an online business? Create a website and start actioning your plan for an hour or two each day, after your day job. Figure out what works and what doesn’t when the stakes are small.

Start With What You Know

Making money isn’t magic, and it isn’t dumb luck. It’s about generating value. People who don’t know what you know will pay you for that knowledge. And people who can’t do what you can do will pay you for that ability. Whether it’s a service (‘I don’t know how to do X, but you know how to do X, so I will pay you to do X for me’) or a product (‘I can’t create Y, and you’ve already created Y, so I will pay you for Y’).

Everybody has knowledge about something. Everybody has skills. What do you know? What can you do? It doesn’t have to be unique. You don’t need to be the only one in the world with this talent. But it needs to be comprehensive. Comprehensive knowledge or skills means you can compete.

Start Now

People that talk to me about wanting to work for themselves, people who dream of being self-employed, consistently express one common theme – “when the time is right”.

Often, for those dreamers, the time is only right when it’s easy (‘I have $100,000 in the bank and nothing to spend it on, what a great time to be self-employed!) or when it’s necessary (‘If I ever lost my job, I’d become self-employed’). “Easy” will never happen; “necessary” happens all too often.

The problem with waiting until you lose your job before you start your own business is that you’re starting at step 0 at a time when you have 0 income. Not smart.

Whenever you start, you will not be an overnight success. This doesn’t happen. Depending on your business, there’s a better than average chance that you also won’t be successful in one month, or two months, and possibly not even in six months.

Starting your business in your own time, while you still have a day job, is the safest, least risky path to successful self-employed.  That wasn’t my path.  My hand was forced, and I had to react, and react quickly.  Vistria’s origin story was more big bang than slow burn.

While the pressure of not knowing whether you’ll be living on the street in two months’ time is certainly motivating, it’s a less than optimal way to get started.  Better to have a steady income while you slowly and gradually work on your freedom plan.

The downside? It’s a hell of a lot of work. You will need to sacrifice your evenings and your weekends on a regular basis. The end game and the payoff is freedom. Freedom from being at the mercy of your bosses and co-workers, to answer only to yourself.

Only you can answer the question how bad do you want that freedom.

Start Confidently

As much as we rely on our friends to give us valuable feedback, be careful about asking your friends for advice about quitting your job.  Especially if your friends are salaried employees. By all means tell them about your endeavour and listen to their feedback. But don’t take their advice.

Employees will always offer the same perspectives about non-employees – ‘sounds risky’, ‘what if it doesn’t work’, ‘what’s your fallback plan’, ‘how do you absolutely know it will work’, ‘what if you can’t pay the bills’. You likely already have these doubts inside of you. Good. You should. It will motivate you to work harder to avoid those pitfalls. But don’t let your friends comments reinforce your doubts to the point that you fail to move forward because you’re paralyzed by fear.

Friends mean well, but if they’re working a 9-5 job, especially if it’s a job they hate, they’re likely not going to encourage you to break free of those same chains. Misery loves company.

Make sure you leave misery by itself as you walk on by.

Start, and Don’t Stop

This is the hardest step. Once you’ve started, you’ll be faced with challenges and obstacles, and even some failures. Don’t give up. If becoming sustainably self-employed was fast and easy, then everybody would do it. The secret, the secret that everyone really knows if they stop and think about it, is persistence. Do you really think that all of those people who are making a living as contractors, as consultants, as life coaches, as online business gurus, as retail flower shop owners, as caterers, as landscapers, as designers, as app builders, and on and on are really so incredibly special that they can succeed where you can’t?

Of course not. The distinction,the ONLY distinction, is that they don’t give up.  They persevere.  They believe.

Final Reminder If You Want To Be Self-Employed

When you think you can’t, when you have your doubts, when everyone tells you not to, remember this: Start now, start small, and start with something you know.  Don’t let the pessimistics and naysayers and cowards drag you down.  And after you’ve started, do not stop.

The Underrated Productivity Tip

OverwhelmedI love productivity tips.  Figuring out how to squeeze more and more out of the same number of hours allocated to a day is a beautiful kind of scientific magic.

But there are days or weeks that go off the rails and no amount of productivity efficiency will help you get them back on track.

I’ve been having one of those weeks.

Where work and personal and urgent and emergency and important and necessary all collide to produce a perfect storm of frantic fire fighting.  In the midst of this fire storm, no amount of checklists, to do lists, and time management techniques will help you.  You likely don’t even have the time to think of a list, never mind write it down.

At some point, you have to just let it go, give up some ground, and re-group to get back on track.  The day (or week) is lost.  Pause, accept it, put it behind you, and look forward.  After you take a little time-out.

This is the productivity tip that productivity gurus may forget to mention.  Sometimes, in order to be more productive (or become productive once again), you need to give yourself a break.

In that spirit, I offer this

One Compelling Reason To Be Your Own Boss

Be Your Own BossI’ve been primarily a solopreneur for over a decade, with a brief venture into entrepreneurship that didn’t end well.

But when my startup company died a horrible death, it was ultimately solopreneurship that I turned to for comfort. Solopreneurship was my safety net.

Yet I know so many people unhappily working for someone else, wishing that they worked for themselves, but too afraid to pull the ripcord. Because they view any situation other than employment as risky.

Be your own boss?  Sounds great, you say.  But too risky.  Then why do people do it?  Are they just wild-and-crazy show-me-a-plane-and-I’ll-jump-out-of-it risk takers?

How Do You Define Risk

Solopreneurship, self-employment, freelancing, entrepreneurship, e-commerce ventures, any ventures you can think of, are so often deemed risky or not secure.

There’s no ‘safety net’ of a pay-check every two weeks.

That dependable pay-check that provides you with just enough money to get you through the next two weeks and so on and so on.

But hey that’s ok, because the pay-checks keep coming right?  Until they don’t.

Until the big company you work for is bought by another bigger company that doesn’t need little ol’ you.  Happened to me.

Or until you piss off your boss.  I’ve done this.

Or criticize the wrong bad idea.  I’ve done this too.

Or dare to suggest a better way of doing something that somebody thinks is absolutely just fine thankyouverymuch.  Me again.

One Compelling Reason

Solopreneurship, self-employment, freelancing, entrepreneurship, e-commerce ventures all have one significant common theme.  In each of these situations, the person with the most control and the most influence over your success or your failure is YOU.

In a choice between handing over control of my professional and income-generating life to a complete stranger, or owning it myself, I’ll always choose to own it myself.  Who’s my boss?  I am.

The Case for Ordinary Success

SuccessSo much is said about extraordinary people and their incredible success. It seems like we’re bombarded with it these days, from viral YouTube videos to the non-stop diet of celebrity “news” served up by the media.

But what about the rest of us? Where do we fit in? Are we failures because we’re just not that special?

I am not extraordinary.  I’ve never been extraordinary.  I’ll never be extraordinary.  I’m about as non-extra-ordinary as they come.  I am, in fact, ordinary.

But I’m successful.  Rather bold of me to just go ahead and say that, don’t you think?  But it’s true.  I. Am. Successful.  And this is how I know.

People Don’t Avoid Me

I have friends.  Family.  Colleagues.  Acquaintances.  Relationships.  People don’t go out of their way to avoid me.  Don’t people generally try and avoid toxicity and failure and disease and despair?  But I have a support system.  I have people in my life I can count on, who will help me, who will extend a hand to me when I stumble.  Success.

I Don’t Avoid Myself

I almost never feel lonely, but I often seek time to be alone.  I like being alone.  Gives me time to think, create, dream.  Write.  I know people who hate being alone.  Or fear it.  I’m not sure why, it’s one of those things I can’t really relate to.  But they’ll go out of their way to avoid being alone.  Some will even spend time with people they don’t want to spend time with, doing things they don’t want to do, just so they don’t have to be alone.  What is it about themselves that they need to avoid?  I like myself.  I have nothing to avoid.  Success.

I’m Happy

This is the weird thing about saying, out loud, that you’re happy – people don’t believe you.  I’ve never been treated more like a liar than when I’ve told people I’m happy.  Why?  Maybe because they’re not happy, and misery loves company?  Or some sort of automatic cynicism in a world that reveres it?  Nonetheless, facts are facts, and I’m happy.  Some days are harder than others, always has been so, always will be so, but for the most part I’m content with who and what and where I am.  For this, I’m immensely grateful.  It’s a fragile thing, happiness, and it could change with a sudden turn of fortune, but for now I’ll relish it.  Success.

There you have it.  A completely unimpressive, ordinary, average, successful person.  Imagine that.



3 Key Reasons Not to Fear Failure

I was trying to think of how many times I’ve failed in my life, but who can count that high?

The interesting thing about fearing failure is that most of us do, and most of us pretend we don’t. I have absolutely no data to back up that statement, but I’d still be willing to bet on it.

Do you get up in the morning and think, “I would do X today, if I did not have a fear of failure”? Of course not. Fear of failure insidiously hides in the shadows, and disguises itself in many other costumes.

“I’d like to do X, but I just don’t have the time”.

“I’m going to do X, as soon as A, B, and C are ready and perfect”.

“I might try and do X, but I’m not going to tell anyone in case it doesn’t work out”.

The problem with all of those is that they lead to same result – inaction. X never happens. And you never know what potential wonderful results could transpire if you had just gone ahead with it.

Fear is an obstacle to everything. So here are my top three reasons not to fear failure:


Everybody Does It

Sometimes extraordinary people do extraordinary things, and you can’t help but think “I could never do that”. But failure? Everybody fails at something, as some point. From minuscule disappointments to catastrophic life altering events, failure surrounds us. So what is there to fear? Take comfort in numbers. Try something and risk failure. If the worst happens, so what? You’ll only have done what everybody else has.

Look beyond the surface of some famously successful people and you’ll see a path littered with failure and rejection. Michael Jordan was didn’t make the cut for his high school basketball team. Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school. Walt Disney was fired by an early newspaper editor for “lacking imagination”, and his early businesses went bankrupt. How different their journeys would have been had they let it stop them in their tracks.


It’s Unavoidable Anyway

I was trying to come up with an example of how you could live a life without risking failure. And I just couldn’t get there. Maybe someone smarter than me knows the answer to this. Relationships and careers require leaps of faith and have their own inherent risk of failure. But even the smaller day-to-day details of living involve some risk.

Do you ever cross the street? Even if you limit yourself to well-lit, marked crosswalks, you’re still taking a risk. Is it risking failure? Maybe a careening car comes around the corner, and runs you over. Not your failure. But maybe just after you step off the sidewalk, you glance down at your phone, ever so briefly, just to see who sent that text, and then the careening car comes around the corner, and hits you during a moment of distraction that took away your opportunity to avoid becoming roadkill. Well, then that’s on you.


No Lessons, No Learning

Ever hear the expression, “It builds character”. I used to hate that expression. During certain periods of my life, I recall thinking, “Ok, I have enough damn character now, thankyouverymuch”. But I’ve learned to appreciate the truth of it.

Failing, falling, stumbling and tumbling are how we learn. You see this repeatedly, whether it’s among kids on the playground or executives in the boardroom. Those that took their knocks and got back up again have a resilience and sharpness that is completely lacking in those that led a protected, sheltered, everything-must-go-my-way existence.

Acceptance is Progress

And since everybody fails, and since it’s unavoidable anyway, maybe it’s better to get comfortable with failure. If you never suffer the consequences, how can you ever improve?

 “Accept failure, understand it, learn from it, and ultimately, move on from it.”


Want to work for yourself? Cash is King

Cash is King

I recently wrote an article about how you can start your own business while still juggling a day job.  Not only is it possible, it’s also possibly the best way to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur without losing your life savings in the process! 

Budget Planning

Starting small and putting in the effort while you still have a steady income makes a lot of sense.  It’s hard to juggle two jobs – and yes, if you’re actively working on your new business, it is very much your second job – but if you want something bad enough you can make it happen.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

One of the items I mention in the article is the importance of staying on top of your budget.  Eventually you’ll get to the point where you want to focus solely on your own business.  Of course you will, because YOUR business is YOUR passion and YOUR dream, and wouldn’t you rather spend every available hour working on your dream rather than working on someone else’s?  The only way to do this is to work for yourself.

In order to work on your dream full-time, you’ll need to quit your job.  And in order to quit your job, you’ll need money in the bank.  Again, the best way to make this transition is to have some customers already buying what you’re selling before you quit your day job to really amp things up.  But how many customers is enough to walk away from your job and still pay your bills?  This is where budgeting comes in.  If you can master your expenses, grow your revenue, and get insight into your financial transition points, you can plan toward making this transition a reality without any unforeseen financial disaster.

Know Your Numbers

What is a financial transition point?  This is what I call a turning point in your financial forecast.  Many people think that the right time to quit their job is when their side business earns them as much money as they would earn as an employee.  Maybe.  This is certainly one potential transition point. But there are others as well, depending on how much risk you want to take, and how much risk you need to avoid.

But you can’t make an informed decision about any of that until you have all of the information.  And there’s no better way to assess your financial position than by taking the time to write down what you spend and how you spend it.  More importantly, what you plan to spend (and earn) in the future will help you realize your business dreams and stay 100% focused on your goals.

Keep it Simple

You don’t need complicated or expensive software to do some basic budgeting and financial forecasting.  Create an inventory and make sure you include all of the money you earn (income, sales) and all of the money you spend (business and personal).  Understanding how your money flows is the first step in turning your dream into an action plan.

If you need a little help, or just want to save yourself some time, sign-up and download my basic budget planning spreadsheet for free.  It’s simple to use and has everything you need to get started today.

The lack of money is the root of all evil.  ~Mark Twain

Find Your Life’s Purpose and Do What You Love

Finding Your Life's PurposeA bit of a departure this week, but I wanted to share one of my favourite Tedx events with you. Adam Leipzig’s boils down finding your life’s purpose to 5 questions and 5 minutes.  I love the 5 questions he poses.  Can you really find your life’s purpose in 5 minutes?  I say no.

But if you put in just a little bit of extra effort, and take the time to really ponder the questions that Adam asks, it can be one of the most eye-opening exercises you can undertake to find the path you should be following, regardless of the path you’re on.

“If anything is worth the time investment of critical thought, this is – what is your life’s purpose?”

5 Secrets to Juggling a Job While Building a Business

Juggling a Job and a Business

You don’t have to quit your job to build a business.  It’s a common misconception, especially among those looking for excuses, that they have to dive into the deep end when in reality they just need to walk slowly and steadily forward, inch by inch.  You can keep your job, and start your business.  Low risk, high reward, and a hell of a lot of work.  But when is anything worthwhile ever easy?

Having two jobs at once, especially when each seemingly requires all of your focus, is a lot like walking through quicksand.  Ignore the melodrama, and it’s possible to slog your way through.  Relax, plan ahead, don’t panic, take your time, and make steady and measured progress.

So here they are, tried and true, 5 secrets to juggling a job while building a business:

1. Quantify your time

Be clinical about it. Don’t just assume you can do it all.  If you work a 40 hour-a-week job but for a boss that typically demands 55 hours of effort from you every week, then count those hours. Optimism has a time and place, but not when it comes to time management.

Yes, you’ll build a business more slowly if you only have 5-10h a week to offer, instead of 20 or 30 or 40 hours, but the important thing is that you’ll still be doing it.  And that alone puts you ahead of the millions of wannabees and could-have-beens who spend hours dreaming but never doing.  Even just five to ten hours a week is action.  Moving forward, inch by inch.

And I don’t care how busy you are, everyone can carve out at least five hours a week for something that has the potential to change their lives.  Get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning.  Cut out 30 minutes of television a night.

2. Be real with yourself

If you constantly have a to do list for Saturday that never gets done, leaving you scrambling on Sunday to complete your list of chores, then don’t assume that you’ll be motivated enough to pile on building a business to the weekend task list.

On the other hand, if you consistently find a quiet hour or two every Sunday morning, then take advantage of it.  Inch by inch.

3. Don’t force yourself, motivate yourself

There will be days and weeks and months where it all seems too much and impossible and so why even bother.  Instead of quitting, and instead of trying to grimace and bear it and forge ahead, remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place.

Have coffee with a mentor, or friend, or colleague. Someone whose positive and inspiring and believes in you.  Read a favourite inspirational blog post.  Get back in the head space of where you were when you started your journey.

Don’t throw in the towel because of one bad day or week.  Just pick yourself up, and go again.  Forward. Inch by inch.

4.  Manage your own expectations

You can’t do it all.  Something will have to give, and you’ll need to decide what that is.  But when you do, just go ahead and drop that ball. Let it slide.  Deliberately fail. And don’t feel guilty about it.  Just choose wisely.

Think about the least important things that consume your time, and let them go. Call in reinforcements. Maybe you can’t keep on top of cleaning the house or mowing the lawn or fixing the car while you’re working long hours at a day job and putting in hours on building a business while simultaneously having a personal life.

But so what?  Call a cleaning service, hire someone to mow your lawn, and pay someone to fix your car or ditch it and lease a new one.  And yes these things all cost money, which brings us to the last point.

5. Cash is king

Stay on top of your budget. Live within your means.  Cut out some of the luxuries that you love, but don’t need.  If building a business is important to you, these are easy decisions to make.

If not, then you’re not ready to start and you don’t deserve the reward that you’re dreaming about because you’re not willing to do the work. Harsh but true.

Going after what you want, and actively trying to free yourself from your current situation, will require sacrifices of both time and money.  The good news?  It’s worth it.

“One of the rewards of success is freedom, the ability to do whatever you like” ~ Sting


How To Start a Business Without Money

Start a Business With No MoneyWhen 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

Create Value

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.

Cost? Priceless.