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Can you start an online business with no money?
Yep you sure can, and that’s what we’re going to talk about here.
But before we get into this, let’s talk about what this post is, and what it is not.
This isn’t going to be a post full of 239 different kinds of businesses you can start online without money.
There are enough of those already (and quite frankly, I’ve never really found them all that useful, hence this post).
What this post is about is what it takes to start an online business without money.
What’s involved, and what it takes is what I’m covering here.
And I think this stuff is so much more important, because when you do land on an idea you want to run with, everything I’m talking about here is going to hit you full force, so you need to know what to do when that happens.
How do I know?
Because I’ve been there and done that.
I bootstrapped my business from literally nothing to the 6-figure earner, with customers and clients from all over the world, that it is today.
And I employed everything I’m talking about in this post to do it.
Here’s a hard reality:
It’s hard to pour money into a project when you don’t have any!
If you’re not 100% committed and sold on the idea why would you put a bunch of money into it and squeeze your budget even harder?
It doesn’t make much sense, does it?
But here’s the deal:
You’ve been inspired and you’re ready to start an online business.
At this point, spending a bunch of money on it just isn’t an option.
So what do you do?
Can you start an online business with no money?
Yep, you sure can. There are a variety of ways to do it.
But here’s the kicker:
Money makes things move faster. It greases the proverbial skids. And one of the most important things about starting an online business is figuring out all the things that you don’t know that you don’t know.
But there is an alternative to spending money to start on an online business and it’s a really simple concept and that’s what I’m going to cover for you in this post.
Can you start an online business with no money?
If you’re asking the question, “can you start an online business with no money?” let me start by telling you that I was in the same boat as you when I got started.
I didn’t have any money at all to pour into anything.
As a young family we were doing our best just to make sure our bills got paid every month and times were tight.
Neither me nor my wife earned very much in our day jobs, and we had a baby girl, so we were stretched thin.
I was just beginning to learn about online business and it seemed promising.
But everything I looked at cost money.
It wasn’t always a lot of money.
But anything outside our budget was a struggle.
I remember one time that there was a web traffic tool I wanted to buy.
I was so torn though.
It was reasonably priced, but I was also overwhelmed by my skepticism.
I didn’t know who I could trust and if the tool would even work.
So after trying to reason through the different scenarios in my head, I decided I had to pass, because I couldn’t take the risk of something not working out.
If I bought it and it didn’t work out, it would’ve created a serious dent in our budget that would’ve taken months to repair and I just couldn’t take that risk.
So I know where you’re coming from, if you’re limited by your budget.
And I know where you’re coming from if you’re not 100% sold on whatever “thing” you think you need to buy, because you’re afraid to take a chance, in order to start or try to grow your business.
Money helps you fail faster
Here’s the good thing about having money for your online business project:
It provides meaningful feedback faster.
The feedback loop you get by spending money on your online business project is shortened tremendously.
As you’ve probably figured out by now though, pouring money into an online business does not guarantee success.
Trust me – I figured that part out too.
I had a project that i was working on a few years ago where where I *did* have a little bit of money to pour into the project.
And it failed.
Not in the sense that it was a total, abject failure.
It’s just that the initial iteration of the project wasn’t successful, and I figured this out really fast.
So after pumping money into the project and finding out that it wasn’t going to work as I thought it would, the failure sent me back to the drawing board to evaluate, revise and then relaunch.
*That* is where having money to put into a project helps the most.
What does it take to start an online business with no money?
So you can put your concerns to rest – money isn’t some kind of magic potion that you can sprinkle on your project and make it succeed.
So what do you do if you don’t have any of the fail faster money to pour onto your project?
There’s a solution, and it’s simple.
But it’s not easy.
And it’s called “hustle”.
It’s called “the grind.”
What you can’t do with money you can make up with what Chet Holmes calls in the “Ultimate Sales Machine” pig-headed determination.
My dad called it “elbow grease”.
It’s shear pig-headed determination.
And honestly, this is probably the best way to start.
The best self-development program in the world
Steve Larsen, who’s been very successful with his online businesses talks about something he learned when he was just getting started with his business.
He said that becoming an entrepreneur was the single best self-development program in the world because it exposed the weaknesses in his own character and caused him to grow as a person.
Think about that for a minute:
One of the biggest mysteries that faces you when you’re starting a business is that you don’t know what you don’t know.
It’s incredibly frustrating.
But what the process of the entrepreneurial journey does is that it forces you out of your comfort zone to do the things you’d probably not otherwise do.
Unless you’re a super-human like David Goggins who lives for the challenges that beset you (to say the least), and you’re like the rest of us mortals, it’s going to get really uncomfortable as you’re working to build your business with no money.
It’s going to be hard.
And it’s going to test you.
It’s going to push you to places you’re not really sure you’re ready to go.
You have to be willing to make it through those times – with or without money – if you’re going to be successful.
Don’t dabble, go all in
One of my favorite things to do is play guitar.
But I’m not really very good at it.
I’ve learned a lot of stuff over the years that I’ve played, but overall, I’m a very average player.
And the reason is this:
I dabble at playing guitar.
It’s a hobby.
I haven’t committed to any kind of practice regiment. I haven’t committed to becoming a great player (although that’s getting ready to change).
I’m not very good because I haven’t committed to it 100%.
But what I have committed myself to is growing my business and being successful.
Here’s the deal:
If you’re only going to tinker and spend a little time here and there on your business, then the likelihood of you being successful with it is slim to non-existent.
Sure, there are examples of a few (very few) people who converted their hobby into million dollar businesses by just putting in a few hours a week.
But they are, by far, the exception rather than the rule.
For every single one of those people there are thousands and thousands of people who have approached things the same way with meager results at best.
It’s like playing the lottery – and you know what the odds of winning the lottery are (approaching zero).
If you’re serious about starting an online business with no money then you need to push all your chips to the center of the table and go all in.
Burn your ships.
Don’t leave backdoors for yourself so you can quit.
Have a big enough “why”
One of the biggest elements that separates those who are successful from those who give up is their “why”.
If you have a big enough “why” you can overcome just about any “how”.
Because it’s going to get hard, and if the reason you have for doing what you do isn’t big enough or strong enough, then it will be easy to give up.
Maybe it’s proving the people in your life who didn’t think you could do it.
Maybe it’s a desperate situation where you have to start earning extra income or the consequences are you’re going to be homeless.
Maybe it’s a situation where you want to prove something to yourself.
The “why” behind doing what you want to do by starting a business online has to be enough to sustain you through even the roughest periods.
Visualize what success looks like for you
Let me ask you a question:
How do you get to a new destination unless you have a map?
Sure, you can make educated guesses as you drive along the interstate, and you may even get lucky and find your way there.
But if you have a map and you know what the journey looks like, then you’ll be able to get there faster and easier.
This is why it’s important to visualize what success looks like for you.
I’ve been doing this for years, and at first it was really challenging.
It was hard for me to paint that picture because I wasn’t as clear as I needed to be for what I wanted to be, do, and have.
So I forced myself to sit down and create a picture of exactly what I wanted and then I painted the picture in as much detail as I could.
In Evernote, which is where I keep a lot of documents like this, I created my “vision statement”.
That might sound all “woo woo” but it’s not in any way.
Visualization, the way I’m talking about it here, works.
It’s why pro athletes use it all the time to paint the picture of what success looks like for them.
And it’s why businesses who create their vision statements the right way have a clear map for where they need to go.
Here’s the deal:
Having a strong vision for what success looks like for you is like pouring rocket fuel into your business.
It helps you find answers to questions you didn’t even know you were going to have.
It helps you to find answers to challenges that are coming in the future.
It helps you know the next step you need to take on your journey.
So once you’ve made the decision to commit fully to building your business online, map out a vision statement and write it out in as much detail as possible – the people involved, the income streams that are coming in, the products and services you’re offering, your office location, how it makes you feel, etc.
Read it every day.
Think about it.
Ruminate over what it will feel like to see it come to life.
Commit to it and envision your success.
The next step is to start putting together ideas for what you can do.
Maybe you’ve already got an idea. If you need to you can go google those other posts that talk about all those things.
Just know that once you do, you’ll be back here, figuring out how to execute it.
The best thing you can do with your idea is bounce it off of other like-minded people so they can give you feedback.
Having other people involved is such a big deal.
And don’t get caught up worrying about them stealing your idea. An idea is just an idea until it’s executed, and so few actually execute. And even if they did, they lack the one thing that you have: the brain and imagination that you used to create the idea in the first place.
Talk with others and get feedback. That’s the best thing I can tell you because an idea in a vacuum wil rarely, if ever, work out the way you think it will.
And I’ve got something that can help you do just that.
If you’d like to connect with other entrepreneurs and creators who are trying to figure all this stuff out and help each other along the way, join me in my free Facebook group here.