Does it take money to start a business?
Well, it can, but usually it does not. I don’t mean usually like 51% of the time, it’s closer to 99% of the time. And if your first thought is, “I’m probably the 1% that does need money to start”… you’re not.
I recently sent out a survey which over 500 people filled out. One of the things that shocked me was how many people were not taking any action because they think they need money before they can start.
This is just a small sample of a lot of answers like this.
There’s an extreme misunderstanding with beginning entrepreneurs that they need capital to start a business. As you’ll learn from this post, you do not need money to start a business.
In some sense, you already have capital in the form of sweat equity, you’re just lighting it on fire by not using it. Instead of using the capital you do have, you’re waiting for paper money to come rescue you from inaction. The only action you’ll take once receiving is to light that capital on fire as well, because the lack of knowledge in execution will have you putting it towards the wrong things.
In some follow up emails with a number of people who said they needed money, it didn’t take long to find out that money was definitely not what they needed. Knowledge was.
Them: “I need funding”
Me: Why, where specifically are you stuck?
Them: “I need to reach my market and I’m not sure how.”
Wait, what? What does that have to do with needing money?
If they knew how to market they’d be unlikely to need funding since marketing efforts would fund growth.
Most of the follow up answers had nothing to do with the money that they didn’t actually need, it got to their actual struggle.
Many view money as this magic cure that’s going to solve their actual problem. It’s not. Knowledge + action will, and no knowledge is gained from inaction.
Them: “I need money”
Me: “What have you tried?”
Them: “I’ve never tried anything, I need money so I can start.”
Money is beneficial when you already know what you’re doing, because then you can scale something successful, not throw money and pray. If you’re waiting for money to do something, you won’t know what you’re doing, and thus, won’t need money.
Them: “I need investors”
Them: “So I can start a business”
Me: “What would having money from an investor do for you?
Them: “Then I could spend money on marketing to grow a company”
Me: “Where would you spend the marketing money?
Them: “I don’t know, do you have any ideas?”
Me: “What would you do after getting capital?”
Them: “Not sure.”
You don’t need money to start your business
The majority of people who think they need capital to start their business do not need capital, they need an elimination of excuses.
If it wasn’t capital, it’d be something else. If someone claiming they needed capital were handed $5k, or $20k, or whatever phantom number they claimed they needed, they’d just have another excuse since they don’t actually know what to do.
That’s the point. You’re not going to learn what to do sitting on the sidelines. Money is irrelevant, especially early on in the game. Money won’t solve your problems, knowledge will.
Using capital as an excuse as to why you haven’t started your business is an easy one to use because so many other wantrepreneurs use that. You feel justified in using that as the reason to not do anything. It gives you the satisfaction of ‘knowing you’d make it if only you had money’. Well, if you had money you’d still be on the sidelines with the next excuse.
“Here’s $10k, why are you still not taking any action?”
“Well, now I need a mentor.”
“Here’s a mentor, why are you still not taking any action?”
“Well, now just need more time, there’s only so many hours in the day.”
“Here’s a bottle of unlimited time, why are you still not taking any action?”
There’s always reasons you can give yourself for why not to take action. It’s ‘easy’. But, it makes the rest of your life hard.
There’s no capital for no action.
There’s no mentors for no action.
And time is irrelevant if you aren’t going to use it to bet on yourself.
It’s not a money problem, it’s a mindset problem.
The limiting belief of telling yourself that you can’t start without money keeps you on the sidelines, and away from making the very money you claim to need to start.
The only thing that’d happen if you got capital was it’d just give you more money to lose since you don’t know what you’re doing yet.
The more beginner the entrepreneur, the more they think they need capital to start a business.
You aren’t Silicon Valley, and you aren’t building the next Tesla.
YOU DO NOT NEED MONEY TO START YOUR BUSINESS.
Are there some people who need capital to start a business? Yes, absolutely. I personally called a number of people who filled out the survey, and some have good ideas that legitimately will need capital.
The funny thing was though, the few people who did actually need capital were still taking action by way of due diligence, which will allow them to know the market and know exactly how to best use the money. That knowledge will allow them to raise the money they need, or feel confident to invest their own money by making a calculated, +EV decision.
The ones who did not need money were often taking zero action, so they wouldn’t learn what was needed to execute. If they had, they’d learn that what was needed to execute would not take much if any money. That knowledge would allow them to take action, which would allow them to make money.
Many projects I’ve started that made money have taken little to no money to start. Most of my entrepreneurial friends who’ve been very successful in business usually started their projects with little to no money as well.
Started Poker with Pennies
I remember playing poker for basically pennies when I was starting. This was after I’d already taken action by reading books on how to play, and playing for ‘play money’ to learn how to do it. I deposited $50 and the blinds were $0.01/$0.02. I worked hard and scaled the initial deposit of $50 to $100, then $1,000, then $10,000, then significantly more, including a $43,000 month. Going from playing for pennies to making $43,000 in a single month did not happen overnight, it took a lot of practice.
The practice gave me the knowledge of what worked and didn’t work. I applied that knowledge to keep getting better, and when I got better my income increased as a result. If I had used the excuse of needing money before I started so that I wouldn’t have to play for pennies, I’d still be on the sidelines. The inaction of waiting for more money before starting would have kept me from earning the knowledge, that earned me the money.
Started an E-commerce Store for $500
The first niche e-commerce store that I started was only around $500 to start(example #4 from How To Get “Lucky” in E-Commerce), and I could have easily started it for less by not outsourcing some of the initial tasks, and learning to do them myself. The only reason I spent that is because I was able to, and I valued my time, which could be spent on more valuable things.
After making four figures/month passively on it for a while, I sold that store in a small package for almost $70,000. Other people who want to get into e-commerce are “waiting for more money” to start, because that will supposedly allow them to make money. That’s not how it works.
ForeverJobless: from action to… oops I built another business
ForeverJobless has been a side project just trying to give back and talk about entrepreneurship and other things that I really enjoy talking about. It may turn into a business almost accidentally as a byproduct of just taking action and providing value. I mean, it’s never been treated as a “business” up to this point.
What will likely go from a fun side project, to a six figure business, was only made possible by action.
That action has led me to learning how to write blog posts, which made me realize people wanted to listen to content as well, which led to the action of learning how to launch a very successful podcast(which due to popular demand will be having a new series released soon), which compounded the number of people asking for more help, which led to the action of helping action taking entrepreneurs start profitable businesses, which made me realize how much I could help people, which led me to figuring out how to grow a massive social media following fast to reach more people, which made me realize a lot of people are at the very beginning of their journey which has led to the action of writing a book to help them(coming soon), which all compounds and continues to grow the ForeverJobless platform, which leads to more opportunities, which will lead to more action to add value, which will lead to more growth.
A side effect of all that action, is income.
No action would have equated to no learning, no opportunities, no growth, no income.
The more action you take, the more opportunities you will have.
If we had a business competition, and I gave someone who’s never taken action $10k to start, and I started with $0, what do you think’s going to happen? They’re not going to ‘win’. Why? Because needing money to start your business is not actually why you’re not starting. It’s needing knowledge, and taking action. The more action you take the more knowledge you gain on how to take future action. If you’re too risk averse to bet any time or money on yourself, you’re not going to pick up the knowledge you need.
Think of yourself as a stock. The more you invest in yourself (time or money), the more your future earnings will be. The faster you have higher earnings, the more those earnings compound and can be re-invested.
Some of you even have the money you claim to need to start, you just don’t want to risk it. You’ve got a certain amount of money put away, and you’re saving it as if having it sit in the bank or a stock is doing anything to help you. All it’s doing is validating the fact that you aren’t willing to bet on yourself.
Safe Money = Slow Money
A lot of the people who “need money”, often have money, they just want more before starting so they don’t risk losing what they already have. If you understand expected value(EV), you’ll realize you are losing it, in the form of opportunity cost by not making the optimal decision. You’re choosing a -EV route, and avoiding a +EV route just to avoid the possibility of losing. As a byproduct of avoiding the possibility of losing, you are losing. You’re losing time and money that should have been spent in the game, investing in yourself + improving your knowledge.
If you’re keeping your money “safe” on the sidelines instead of making a +EV bet on yourself, you’re actually being very risky. You’re risking knowledge, and future income. If you risk these, you risk the future you desire.
Many people say they “can’t afford” to buy a book, or a course, or go to a conference, or hire a coach, but that same person is spending money at the bar, has new clothes, the newest iPhone, and other possessions.
They feel like they can make up for their lack of knowledge sometime in the future with ‘hustle’ and ‘grit’, and other words they’ve heard successful entrepreneurs use that they confuse for being the reason they succeed. If you hustle your way in the wrong direction you can go as hard as you want, but you won’t end up where you want to go. Spend the time and money investing in your roadmap and taking action.
Knowledge compounds very quickly. When your knowledge compounds, so can your income. You should be betting on yourself, which will be the best investment you can make. It will give you significantly higher returns long term than anything else.
If you’re thinking, “that’s not me I don’t have any capital”, you need to realize that you actually do…
Sweat equity is your capital when you’re starting out
“Sweat equity is the most valuable equity there is. Know your business and industry better than anyone in the world.” Mark Cuban
Paper money is just one form of capital. Even if you literally had no money at all, you have time, which most people tend to dismiss but it’s probably your greatest form of capital. You could spend the time you have pursuing a business and learning how to do it, or you could burn it. Most people burn it. That’s real capital you’re burning, but since it’s not in a material form that you can see, most people blindly burn that capital every day, and claim that they have none.
Almost every entrepreneur I know started with little to no money when they started. They had capital in the form of time, so through sweat equity they hustled their way to learn, and in the process grew some initial capital.
The reason I ran the survey was to know what type of content would be most helpful to put out on ForeverJobless. I wrote this post because there was such a large number of people that I realized weren’t taking action only because they incorrectly assumed they needed money to start a business.
If that’s been you up to this point, or if you know someone who’s been waiting to take action for that reason, make sure to share this post with them.
Realize that we’ve all got an enormous amount of capital, money is just one form.
Time is money.
Make sure you’re not lighting it on fire.
It will fund your future, and the life that comes with it.