Can I start a business without any money?
Often you hear someone say, ‘I have a great idea, but I don’t have the money to make it into a business.’ If that is your problem, then read on;
Do you have a good idea?
Firstly, is the idea one you have randomly thought of or is it something that has its basis in your own experience, maybe working somewhere or knowledge you already possess. It costs very little to do the research necessary and search the internet to see if there are any solutions or products that have already been created and are on the market. If you cannot find a similar idea already on the market, then it is worth taking the next step.
Start to write down everything you can about who you think your target market might be, how much they are willing to pay and how you can get it to market (i.e. sell it).
Next look at what you are trying to create and estimate the cost of producing it. Even if it will take an amount of money to realise the idea all may not be lost. Please read on….
A personal experience
At one stage in my career I was a business consultant working in a small consultancy practice called Remuneration Planning Corporation (RPC). I worked with three partners in the area of remuneration for employees and employee benefits and during that time RPC came up with some unique taxation rulings one of which was called the Novated Lease. The Novated Lease was approved by the Australian Taxation Office and a Ruling was issued (IT2509) for public use. RPC had become known in the finance industry as an innovator and was frequently approached by journalists and publishers for articles of interest. Publishers had approached RPC and offered deals where they would cover the cost of printing and marketing and pay RPC a royalty on sales. Sound good!!! However, after several publishing deals very little revenue was received from the publishers, not because the books did not sell but because RPC received 10% royalty and once a single edition had been published the publisher moved on to the next big thing.
It was after the Novated Lease was approved that I thought there might be another way to turn publication into a business, so I compiled all the information into what became a 600-page business manual. We estimated that to print this ourselves would cost at least $40,000 for the first run and tens of thousands of dollars to market it, a big risk for a company with limited finances. So, what did I do next?
I went to a bookshop and purchased ‘Publishing for Dummies’ for $15, read it from cover to cover and learned the basics of desktop layout for publications. Back at the office I set about applying what I had learned and finished up with a half-decent looking finished publication. So far this had cost only my time and $15.
The next problem was how would we find $40,000 to print the book. This is where ‘mutual leverage’ is useful.
Leverage is working with people or companies that have like-minded interests to achieve benefits for both parties. In this case, I thought about who would be interested in a book that told employers how to economically provide a vehicle benefit for employees. It was not as you might think employers or finances companies, it was Fleet Managers.
Fleet Managers want to manage as many vehicles as possible for companies and the drivers are employees. I created a business plan and pitch deck and called a large fleet manager, Fleet Systems (owned by General Electric). I arranged a meeting and presented the case. The response was positive, Fleet Systems could see the benefit to them, and they offered to pay for the entire publication printing costs in return for us placing their logo on the cover. They would sell the publication to their customers (companies) who would pay $400 per copy, all of which would be paid to RPC.
The result of this exercise in mutual leverage was that in its first year of publication $1 million of sales were made with only $20,000 in marketing costs.
Think about how you can take the idea you have, combine it with the knowledge you have accumulated, work with another business for mutual gain and get your idea off the ground. It is possible.