How Do I Start my Business With No Money?

(Note: consider this one a guest post from Paul O’Brien, CEO of MediaTech Ventures. It’s his answer to a Quora question “how much money do I need to start.” It’s adopted from his post What is the minimum capital required to start up a new tech company? | SEO’Brien)


How much do you need to start? Here is Paul’s Answer

Zero dollars.

What “should be” the minimum??

Nothing. It takes nothing to start:

  1. Do the Marketing about the industry, competitors, history, potential partners and investors. All that is freely available.
  2. Start talking to hundreds of people about the idea, mission, and vision. Validate it. Not with “customers” but with everyone and anyone. Does a 13 year old understand it and think it’s a solid idea? No? Keep talking till you get that right.
  3. Build an audience and community online. This is also free by the way, start some social media groups, stand up a landing page and get email subscribers. Go.

Total spent? Zero dollars.

Now, is it worth proceeding? It should be otherwise why would you do anything else?? You should now have confidence and clarity that any spend will be worthwhile.

What do you start with? Build a website. This could be free too, but may cost a bit. A few hundred dollars.

Use that to prove you can grow demand and carve out a market. Also free by the way.

Finally, clear you have something?? Incorporate, which does cost something, to protect it. And start building. Now we’re spending money, but you should be certain of an ROI (return on that) because you have an audience and clarity to who customers would be (and that they’ll pay).

Most founders don’t proceed this way.

90% of startups fail.

Don’t be most founders.


Why Am I Posting this Here?

I’m posting it here because it’s a good answer to several related questions as well. Such as “how do I start my business with no money” and “what do I do with my business idea” and “how do I check whether my business idea is valid? Paul’s makes an important point that many of us who write about startups often miss: what you can do, with or without money, to move forward with a possibility. If you search my blog here and the larger collection of articles on the main bplans site, you’ll find posts on how to estimate starting costs, how to make money on your idea, how to evaluate a business idea, and related. This one is a different approach, well worth adding into the mix.

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