All Posts by StartFromNothing

Focus on Principles to Get You There

Instead of reading a million guides and waiting until you are ready write up a general plan with the principles that will get you to your end goal (write that out too!) and review this and alter as you go. This should get you started much faster and avoid your failing at the start line due to analysis by paralysis. Do not let what you don’t know get in the way of what you do know.  Go take action now.  I can guarantee you already know something that you can do right now to take you further down the road of success.  So go do it!

Failure Isn’t Real

Failure Is Fake

Surely failure is a real thing… isn’t it?  I would say their is not such things as failure… there is only feedback.  That is unless you give up.  This is evident in so many different areas in life.  However it is especially true when people attempt to learn new skill-sets.  This is something we tend to forget or unlearn as we get older.  The older we become the more rigid and afraid of falling down we become.  But go do this sometime within this next week.  If you have a son or daughter, nephew or niece, or grandchild or family friend who has kids take them and teach them something new.  This could be something as simple as teaching them to play catch with a baseball.  Or trying to teach them to shoot a basketball.

Kids don’t care if they jack-up at something.  They will keep trying until they get it right.  They might even not really heed your advice much and keep trying and trying until they get it right.  This goes for anything with them, when they are learning to roll over and after that to crawl and after that to walk.  They fail all the time but are not easily discouraged.

They will watch people (usually you) who already have attained that skill-set and imitate them until they get it right.  After they assimilate it they may add their own twist to it but normally they will emulate and then innovate.  So my challenge to myself, and to you all is to take on the attitude of a child.  While you are learning to create your own income steams and increase your freedom, keep a smile on your face and in your mind when you fall down.  Enjoy the process, wipe the dust off your knees, and get back up and keep trying.  There is no failure, only feedback.  And falling down or jacking up isn’t that bad.  The embarrassment of falling on your face should not make your face as red as the shame of never trying because you let fear control you.  So get out there, grab the bull by the horns, make eye contact and let out a chuckle, and head-but that sucker as hard as you can.  Get after it and learn from your mistake or just ignore them and plow through it!  The worst failure is never stepping foot into the arena.  Fear that above all else.

Mentality of Shoestring Entrepreneurship

So you want to start a business… before you dive in it is a good idea to spend some time with a pen and pencil and a blank sheet of paper (or knock it out on your keyboard.)  Take some time and get your though out of your head and onto paper or a word processor.  This is going get your gears turning and is great for clarifying ideas or further defining your ideas into something more actionable.

Try to keep things somewhat simple, don’t get bogged down in the details just yet.  This is simply your first step at taking action.  People who write their ideas down are more likely to take action than people who just leave their thoughts floating around in their head.  Capture that though, put it to paper or computer screen.  If nothing else this is a more tangible process of working with an idea than merely thinking about it.  So this is what I started with.

Why do you want to start your own business?

My goal in starting a business ultimately is to achieve more freedom.  I want the freedom to chose what I want to do for money and the freedom to dedicate as much or as little time as I desire to my business.  I understand this involves more risk (no guarantee of a steady paycheck) but I think I will be more driven working toward something I am interested in. The alternative is to work a job until retirement and be delegated tasks that someone else (boss, business, corporation, etc.) is interested in.

What do you have of value to offer your potential customer?

This one is not as hard as I initially thought. Business can be simplified to offering something of value to someone who needs or wants it.  Value comes in the form of either a good or a service or a combination of both.  The frozen pizza you bought at the grocery store last week is a good.  The Pizza Hut pizza you are having delivered is a good and a service.  Having your oil changed is a service.  I think almost everyone has goods that they can start their business with.  This is as simple as selling things that you already own but not longer want or need.  This is how I am starting out the process of funding my own business.

Take a look around your house or apartment and identify some stuff that you would be willing to part with in order to fund your business endeavors.  I tried to view everything as either an asset or a liability.  I categorize an asset as something that makes you money or saves you time.  My computer for instance I consider an asset because I can use it to sell things on Amazon and eBay.  However my PS3 I considered a liability because it really takes my time and does not make me money or save me time in anyway.  Is it fun?  Sure it is, but I want the freedom that comes with working for myself more than I want to have some momentary fun playing Call of Duty or watching a movie.  Now I’m not saying you need to be this extreme with finding things to sell around the house but that has been my mentality.  You could make up a simple rule like “If I haven’t used this in the last 6 months, 3 months, etc., then I will sell it.”  I will dig further into why I took on this mentality but I would say everyone has a few thousand dollars worth of “stuff” they could sell that they really don’t need.  You could then save this couple thousand dollars and use it to acquire more assets that will make you more money down the line such as websites that can be monetized.  Or you could use the couple thousand dollars to purchase more product to in turn sell for a profit and keep growing your money until you have streamlined things enough and are bringing about a recurring income stream to the point where you could quit your job and focus full time on your own business.  I believe this model is very doable if you are disciplined enough to dedicate those initial funds you got from selling some of your stuff into more profitable actives while working whatever job you have now.

I am still working and brainstorming this one out for a long term sustainable product or service that I want to offer people.  But in the mean time I am focusing on selling product and in the beginning I have been selling my stuff that I know longer wanted or needed.  I have begun sourcing my own products from thrift stores as well and selling them on eBay.  This is known as picking and there are tons of videos on YouTube that will teach you what to look for and what is profitable.  I know a lot of people sell clothing, coffee mugs, books, games, cds and many more different “products” on eBay and Amazon that they sourced from garage sales, book sales, flea markets, and other cheap places.  I will go into more detail on how to do this in further posts.

Who is your potential customer?

Right now, for me anyway, this is a pretty easy one.  Whoever searches for my item on eBay or Amazon.  You really do not have to put much thought into this when selling physical products online because more often than not your customers are searching for your product prior to purchasing it from you.  However some customers will find your product by browsing, in which case it would be important what category you listed your item in.

What and how much will you need to get started?

How much time can you expect to be able to dedicate to your business in the beginning?

Shoestring Entrepreneurship – Turn Nothing Into Something

What is Shoestring Entrepreneurship?  A “Shoestring” or “Bootstrap” business typically denotes a business started with the owner’s own funds or resources.  The alternative is for a would-be entrepreneur to develop a solid business plan and seek outside investors.  There are disadvantages and advantages to both types of businesses.

The main advantage bootstrapping on a shoestring budget is that you lower your risk by using your own funding and, in return, you have complete control.  When you seek funding from other investors, naturally, those investors are going to want to have some form of control/influence over the business.  However, in exchange for giving up some control, you gain access to the capital needed to implement your business plan.  Some business models are nearly impossible to pursue when limited to your own available resources.  This would be a case where it would to your benefit to pursue investors for your business.

You may feel like you have a good mutual understanding after pitching your idea and receiving the “go-ahead” from an investor.  However down the line they may have a different idea of where they want the business headed than you which may put a cramp on your ideas and in turn your motivation for starting a business in the first place.

The advantage to starting a “Shoestring” business is that you can start where you at with what you have.  This is a huge advantage because it gives you momentum and gets you to start with your idea. I believe is one of the biggest obstacles that many would-be Entrepreneurs never overcome.  Just get out there and start with your idea!  You will learn as you go. Don’t worry so much about having a solid business plan right from the beginning.  Just jump in!

Sure do some planning. That is important because it gets your mind engaged and active in the business ahead of time.  However, don’t fall for the common trap of “Paralysis by Analysis” and end up never doing anything.  Time is ticking and the world won’t stop spinning for your to decide to get out there and start getting your hands dirty.

It is equally important to start doing something to move your business forward so that you begin to gain momentum.  And one of the greatest things you can do to gain momentum is to make your first profits to show yourself that it is possible.  For this, the best way to start is by selling “stuff.”

And the easiest way to do this is to go through your house and find things that you no longer want or need.  Find things that you are willing to part with.  And then utilize the internet to sell these items via eBay or Amazon.  I would guess that almost everyone has at least 500 dollars worth of stuff they no longer need.  For most it is probably more around 2,000 to 4,000 bucks if you are really honest with yourself as to whether or not you really “need” something or not.

I took this perspective.  I tried to define things as either an asset or a liability.  In financial terms, an asset is something that brings you more money or has the potential to do so.  For example, if the value of your house is increasing and you can sell it for a profit then you could consider it an asset.  If you are able to make money with your computer then you could also consider it an asset. Now think of your TV, what would it be?  Unless you have a method for making money with your TV then it is a liability because it cost you money but you are getting nothing financially in return for it.

Now I understand not everything is about money.  Some things you have at home are for sentimental value, some things save you time, some things are for entertainment which you do need some of.  My reasoning for looking at things the way I described above is because I wanted to start my own way of bringing in my own income and I was willing to part with quite a bit right now with the goal of creating my own income streams in the future.  I want to create income streams that I do not have to exchange excessive amounts of time for as I have in the past in the form or a job.  Instead, I want to be geographically free by being able to run my business from a computer anywhere.  I also want to be able to have freedom of control over my business which is why I am going the shoestring entrepreneurship route.