No Money to Start a Business? No Problem!
- Monday, May 02, 2011
This question from a reader addresses a common concern:
Considering that my calling is going to involve a large pile of cash, how do I balance the principles that you teach about following your calling while keeping in mind the principles Dave Ramsey teaches, which include not taking on more debt? (For example, I feel that part of my calling is to build an outdoor roller hockey facility, which will have leagues, community events, and destination for after/year-round school programs. Obviously I will need to purchase a rink, among other things, to get started) - Matt, from North Carolina
No, no, no - you don't need to "purchase a rink" to get started. That would be a horrible risk with a brand new business. Get an agreement with a school to use their parking lot on a Saturday. You'll have instant credibility and an audience at the school, and you can test your idea.
My oldest son was a bicycle racer for many years. We organized and attended races all over the country that were set up in downtown business sections, in business office parking lots and rural roads. The most popular "criterion" races took place on city streets, often right in the middle of a university. No one would have dreamed of purchasing land for that kind of race.
Frankly, I've never had enough money to start a business - but I just went ahead anyway with whatever resources I had available. Here are a couple real examples from my past:
- Auto Appeal - pinstripping. I ordered the supplies where I had 60 days to pay for them - I ordered about $300 worth of supplies for this business targeted at new car dealers. I knew the supplies should not be more than 10% of any job. So that $300 in supplies turned into $3000 in revenue with a $2700 net profit in the first month and I grew the business rapidly with the business profits funding the growth.
- Telephone Address Book. I purchased a telephone/address book at a bookstore for $12.96 - still have that receipt. Then I went to a church and offered to give them 1000 personalize copies of that telephone/address book with their church logo on the front cover. In exchange, I asked them to give me the names of people they did business with - hotels, restaurants, insurance, etc. I then gave those businesses the opportunity to highlight their business on the inside front and back covers. That first project took me four days to complete and netted me $4600 after paying for the 1000 free personalized copies that I gave to the church.
- Self-publishing 48 Days to the Work You Love. I did not have a fancy publishing deal when I first started. Instead, I bought a few three-ring binders at Office Depot, had the inside text copied, recorded a little cassette to stick in the pocket and then sold over 50,000 at $39 each. (total cost $7.50 each) That's over $2 million - with start up costs of less than $100.
There are many such success stories I could share. I worked with a gentleman one time who bought an orange grove, using the existing oranges on the trees as his only down payment. Another purchased an old estate house, contracting to sell the antique furniture inside as his down payment.
Several years ago I bought a house on a Saturday morning, gave the owner $3,000, took over the loan, did some cosmetic improvements, put it back on the market, and sold it for a $21,000 profit. Many of the best ideas today are not capital intensive. They don't require buildings, employees, and inventory. Fear of failure is a much larger obstacle than the lack of money.
You can go ahead with your outdoor roller hockey business. Just don't try to convince yourself that your calling requires you to violate your personal principles. That's a compromise you never want to make.
More on No Money - No Problem in chapter 11 of No More Mondays.
Originally posted March 3, 2010.
Dan Miller is today's leading authority and personality on careers and 'Work You LoveTM'. As bestselling author of 48 Days To The Work You Love, and now No More Mondays, Dan reaches over a million people every month in his newsletter, podcast, and blog with the best trends and opportunities in the workplace and small business. For more information, visit http://www.48days.com.
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