Start Your Business With No Money: 5 Actions You Can Take To Get Started
Want to start your business with No Money?
I’ve been engaging with a lot of different people on social media recently and a lot of them say "I’d love to start my own business but…" and then insert an excuse.
"I wish I had x amount of money so I could start my own business" or
"I wish I had my degree" or
"I can't wait to finish my degree so I can start my own business" or
"I want to marry someone with lots of money so I can start my own business"
I really believe that a lot of these objections and barriers as to why they don’t start their own business are false.
So what I’ve started to do is ask them questions, such as;
"So what is the biggest barrier to you getting started"
And often times the answer is “Money" or the lack of.
So I follow up and ask them,
“If you had the money you needed and those barriers were removed, what would you do?"
They’ll think about for a moment, and then start to list things...
"I’ll start doing this... start doing that"
By the time we’ve gone back and forth a few times we reach a point where they realise that they don’t actually need money to start a business.
There are actually a lot of things you don’t need to start a business.
There are a few things you do need, but there are a lot of things you don’t need and money, believe it or not, is one of them.
But that’s usually the first barrier or objection people put up before they start.
The mistake people make is they focus on the barriers;
"I wish I had xx so I could start", rather than exploring the things they can do.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the barriers may exist, but to use those barriers as a reason to not start putting things in place is the mistake people make.
So let’s remove the barriers out of the way!
"You haven’t got xx at the moment' but what action can you take now to at least start?"
What do I mean when I say START?
Many people believe that you don't start a business until you get the sign up above the door, open up shop and start trading.
But the start up process starts a long way back down the line.
Once you've made the decision to pursue an opportunity, and move it on from idea stage, you've started.
What I want to do is give you 5 things you can do to start your business with no money.
1. Develop Your Business Model
One thing you can do to start your business with no money, is to map out your Business Model.
To do this I use a little gem called the Business Model Canvas, which is a visual business planning tool found in a book called Business Model Generation.
You can grab a copy here: Business Model Generation
The Business Model Canvas is a strategic, but very easy to use, visual template for developing new or existing business models.
What the canvas has done is it’s broken business model development down into 9 building blocks.
I've covered the Business Model Canvas in more depth in a podcast episode, so if you want a more detailed overview, you can listen here:
I tell people to focus on those 9 areas first.
You can spend time refining your brand, by answering these questions;
"Why are people going to come to you?"
"Why would someone come to your business or service rather than go to somebody else’s?"
"What’s your brand going to stand for?"
"What’s going to make you unique?"
2. Talk to People
Another mistake people make is not wanting to speak to people about their business ideas.
And the reason for this is usually out of fear that someone will take their idea and do it before them.
I have always subscribed to the opposite approach, so much so, that my wife often tells me off for being to open with people.
I believe that the more you talk about your idea with people, the more you can refine your ideas.
You will also get a feel for how your potential target market will react and respond to your ideas.
And the more people you talk to, the wider range of perspectives you will have to draw from and shape your idea.
It's a bit like writing an essay for college or university.
A little trick I use to use, was to try and bring up the topic or subject matter in conversations with people who may have a valid opinion or perspective on that matter.
I would try to capture and record any valuable nuggets of information, even if it was just by memory, and use that information in my essays.
It would give me a new line of thought to pursue and to build on, springing life into the assignment making the process a bit more enjoyable.
This will be the same if you're willing to talk to people about your business idea.
And to be honest, it is very unlikely anyone is going to steal your idea.
There are no shortages of ideas, but a lack of people who are willing and able to execute effectively on those ideas.
And if you believe that your idea is good enough to steal, then that should only encourage you more to take action, pursue it, and make it a reality.
You'll be surprised how much your idea will improve and grow just by talking to people about it and listening to their responses.
3. Become a Middleman / Deal Broker
A very viable way to to start your business with No Money is to become a deal broker or Middle man (or woman).
I had a conversation with someone recently who told me they wanted to start a business in the entertainment and leisure Industry.
They went on to tell me that they needed A minimum of £20,000 to get started as they needed to purchase equipments such as inflatables, generators and transport.
He went on to tell me his frustrations as he is such a long way from getting started.
I then went on to share with him what I would do if I was in his position.
1. Build a database of providers currently active within the industry, who have the necessary equipment.
This could be done by simply going through the phone book or searching online.
2. Make contact with those people, and ask them if they would like to be added to my database of leisure equipment providers.
I would just tell them that there is no charge to be added to the database, and by being featured on the database would generate more leads and more work for them.
3. Use social media platforms to identify people who are looking to hire leisure equipment for their events.
This could be done by using the Twitter search function, and searching for terms such as "bouncing castle", "kids birthday party", "Community event" or "fun day".
You could also spend a very small amount of money ($5 a day), and do some targeted Facebook advertising, targeting the specific localities where you have providers on your database.
And again, target the specific search terms / interests that would lead you to people who would be looking to hire leisure equipment for their events.
4. Validate the lead
Once you have found a potential lead, and followed up with that lead to validate that they are serious and they do want to hire some leisure equipment for their event.
Confirm their needs, and the details of their event, and let them know you'll get back to them with a quote.
5. Offer the job to a relevant provider on your database.
Make contact with the relevant providers on your database, this will usually come down to locality.
Let them know you have a validated booking, gives them the basic details of the booking, e.g. Dates time, specific equipment requirements, etc.
Asked them to confirm their availability and to give you a quote for the job.
6. Quote the customer for the job, and include your fee on top of the price
Contact the interested customer and let them know you had secured the provider who can meet their needs.
Give them the quote for the job, which should include your fees for finding the provider.
They do not need to know that your fee is included in the price you're quoting them.
If they are happy with the quote and would like to go ahead and secure the booking, arrange to take a deposit from them.
This could be done via a simple PayPal link sent via e-mail.
You would want to have some type of online booking form ready to be sent out before you even start this process.
Once you have secured the booking and gathered all the necessary information from the customer, you would then forward this information on to the provider, who could then pick things up from this point.
This may not be a long-term sustainable business model for you, however, it does get you in the game quite quickly and easily, and will give you a taste of what it is like working in that Industry.
4. Start Getting Clients
You don’t need to start a business to start the process of finding potential clients.
I recently spoke to a young man who had received a small loan to start his own business and he was telling me all things he plans to do.
"I’m getting my logo designed, I’m going to get some equipment, I’m going to get a vehicle...."
So I asked him, "what about clients?"
He stopped in his tracks and looked at me for about 2-3 seconds, then said slowly;
"Yeah...I’m going to work on that."
I had to bring him all the way back and remind him that without clients you’ve got no business.
You can have all your equipment, you can have all these different things in place, but if you’ve got no clients you’ve got no business.
"How are you going to reach your clients?"
"What platforms and processes are you going to use to engage with them"
“When you do reach them how are you going to keep them?"
It could be through digital marketing, using Facebook advertising, or just reaching out to people on Twitter and asking them how you can help them.
It could be attending networking events, conferences and meet ups or even going as far as making the Dreaded Cold Call!
Yes, thats right! Pick up the phone and speak to people who may be interested in what you have or plan to offer.
You may not have a tangible product or service to offer, but all you need is enough information to make a call and tell someone about your potential product or service.
This will help you in a number of ways, including;
* Build your confidence
* Sharpen you communication skills
* Give you more clarity about your product
* Give you direct feedback from your potential target market
* Refine your product and service
5. Develop a Joint Venture Deal
Another way you can start your business with No Money is by establishing Joint Venture deals.
This is a real Power Move.
It's a little more strategic, but it can get you started in business in a big way and if you do it correctly, the results can be massive.
I will use the example of a clothing company to explain.
Lets say you have an idea for a new clothing line, and you have been building a brand that you believe will really do well in the Urban / Street fashion market.
Step 1; Identify an existing company who has distribution channels to the market you want to access and discuss a joint venture deal with them.
It could be a chain of independent clothing stores, or an online distributor.
Or it could be an established high-street store who you know, from your market research want to venture out into the Urban / Street fashion market.
It could be that you agree a percentage share with them, or that you agree that if demand grows and the brand becomes big, you would be willing to sell the brand to them at a competitive price.
No money invested at this point.
You will have had to do some work defining your brand, thinking about how and why it will be appealing to the target market.
You will have done some research, and looked at the successful brands currently dominating the marketplace and what lessons you can learn from them and how your brand will be different.
You will have created some visual representation of your brand, such as your colour palette, some drafts or sketches of your logo / emblem.
You would've brainstormed your tagline or brand slogan.
You will have done some social media outreach, engaging with people within your target market.
But none of this will have required any major money invested.
If you do not have any Basic graphic design skills, or you don't know a graphic designer who would be willing to develop some visuals for you, then you may have to invest a small amount of money in getting your visuals designed.
Step 2; Find a manufacturer who will make your product for you on a credit agreement.
Once you've found a company who is willing to distribute your product for you, and you have a formal agreement in place, getting credit from a manufacturer shouldn't be so difficult.
The main thing to establish here is the timeframe in which you have to repay them.
You want to get the manufacturer to agree to create your product for you, and give you enough time to sell them before you have to pay them.
Depending on how established and recognised your distributor is, will help with how much leverage you have to request longer payment terms, such as 90 days.
To incentivise the deal, you may want to agree that once the product becomes successful, the manufacturer will have exclusive rights to produce the products for a fixed period of time.
There are many things you can do for free or very cheaply which can start you on your path of building your own business, instead of focusing on the things you don't currently have access to and taking no action.
So I encourage you to do the foundational things first.
Let me tell you this, you probably don’t need a $20,000 loan.
Just do whatever you can, with whatever you've got, to the best of your ability.
Don’t let these false barriers stop you from making a start on your business.
Just make a start.