How to start a business with no money: tips for entrepreneurs
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How to start a business with no money: tips for entrepreneurs


What if I started a new business today? How
would I approach it? Let’s imagine this scenario- Slidebean, the presentation
platform I started in 2014 disappears today, kind of like The Leftovers. Our AI design
system disappears, our SEO, our users, our revenue, and our team. Also, this Youtube
channel. In this alternative Universe, I’m left with
my personal Youtube channel, which is still tiny, but you can follow me, of course. Last paycheck, plus I’m the only person
in the world that remembers Slidebean, which means I have no credibility as a founder.
All I have left is my experience. How do I start a new business? Step 1, the business idea
Alright, let’s talk about the business idea first. I firmly believe you should only start a business
around something you know how to do: an industry you are familiar with, where you’ve worked
for a while. I have good knowledge of the startup ecosystem,
though remember, nobody knows who I am anymore. I have some design knowledge. I have video
editing and digital animation. My new business should probably be connected to
one of those skills and markets. Perhaps an AI-assisted video editing platform, though
that already exists… Maybe a pitch deck design and writing service for startups- which
Slidebean already does, or did- the challenge here is, once again, credibility. When we started that line of business we already
had a brand: people knew Slidebean, so they weren’t giving their slides to a stranger,
it was this cool company, Slidebean, a venture-funded startup. These guys must know what they are
doing, right? Without that background, I like to think it’d
be harder to compete. So lessons learned here, don’t just build
the first thing that comes to mind. Find a market niche. Find something where you and
your experience can stand out. Also, the motivation to start a business shouldn’t
be ‘I want to start a business’- or I am out of a job, I’ll start a new company. In this scenario, I haven’t lost my savings-
but my savings would only last only for a few months. So no, I would not go to start
a business right away- I’d get a day job. So scratch step 1 and change that to get a
day job. Make sure you don’t have the pressure of running out of money and not being able
to afford rent. It will put you on a better position for anything you set out to do. Ideally, this should be a day job that gives
you some flexibility. If you are tied to a desk 9 to 5, it’s going to be hard to get
anything else done. New step 2, find a business idea. We already talked
about that. Let’s say this business is called design.inc, because it’s a bold and simple
name. Step 3: The co-founder. I firmly believe you need a co-founder. I
doubt I’d start a new company by myself. While I can do some basic coding, I wouldn’t have
time to code AND grow and sell the business, so I’d need a new co-founder for that. Since my Slidebean co-founders have disappeared,
and nobody knows I know a thing or two about startups, I have to start with my immediate
contact network. I’d reach out to friends who I know have some
of the skills and knowledge in the area. I’d double down on my involvement in the local
startup scene; you know, attend meetups, go to events… not conferences, I made a video
about that. Finding a co-founder is hard! I made a video about that. They should
be in a similar position as you (age, day job…) and they should be excited about the
idea, enough to commit to it. We should date a bit, perhaps hack a secondary project together
first, before, you know, going all in. The pressure of not needing money is excellent!
We don’t need to rush things. Step 4, kick-off- I’d aim at developing an
MVP of the platform. Before doing that, we should agree on the company terms, share distribution,
and so on…. you can also find a video about that here. An MVP doesn’t have to be an app. When we
started Slidebean, our first MVP was a concept video explaining how this platform that didn’t
exist yet, worked. And that doesn’t exist anymore. People bought into it, hit our sign up button, and joined our fake
waiting list. The MVP for my previous company was a Kickstarter
campaign. It proved that people wanted this product. So, yeah. THAT is a cheap MVP you can do in
a couple of weeks. After we validate that, we can start doing some coding. If my co-founder is working on the product,
I’d work on the website and the social proof. SEO takes a lot of time, and since we are
starting from scratch, we should aim at filling up a blog with some content as early as possible. Maybe some ProductHunt and Reddit posts to
see how people react to the concept, and then, I would launch this, as soon as possible as
soon as it’s usable. Call it Alpha, Beta, whatever- get it in front of people. We are looking at 15-hour workdays here. Eight
hours at my day job, 7 hours on this new company. That’s the way it has to be, really. Step 5, Traction and De-Risking: I’ve always
said you need traction to raise money. Traction meaning business de-risking. Confirming that the
business is worth something. I would want to de-risk this business as soon
as possible, to find out if it’s worth quitting my day job for it and using up my savings
to be able to work 100% of the time into this business. Most of us can’t afford to live for three
years on savings, so it’s a real-life bet to do this. And it gets harder as you get
older, of course. I’d like to see a few thousands of dollars
in revenue. Or a growing trend of thousands of users. It depends on the business, of course. Step 6, seek funding- If this idea is a tech
startup, then I would look for investor capital, Yes. I draw a line between tech startups and
traditional small businesses (for which we also have a video)- so make sure you know what you
are getting into. I would say I can write and design a decent
pitch deck. If you can’t, you can always get help from someone like Slidebean, which doesn’t
exist in this Universe, of course. I’d navigate my network to approach investors.
LinkedIn first, AngelList, later. This great pitch deck I wrote, with a fresh product with
significant growth, should get me through the door for a few investors. Don’t forget about Startup accelerators. I
did my fair share of programs, and I don’t think there’s a lot more I could learn today-
but what they do offer is initial funding and a vast network of investors. For a company
this stage, with this amount of traction, you could look at something in the 500 Startups,
DreamIt or Y Combinator level. Smaller accelerators typically take idea-stage
companies, but we already built that traction ourselves. What comes next? Well, that depends on the
business- but I hope this is enough to shed some light on the approach that I would take. Back to this Universe, we built a checklist
of all the steps you should take from idea stage to raising capital- it’s available at
FounderHub.io. Also, if you want to try our very real, super
easy to use presentation platform, you can use the URL in the description to get three free months on any of our plans. Hope you enjoyed that, sorry for the clickbait
title- I’ll see you next week!

About Ralph Robinson

Read All Posts By Ralph Robinson

12 thoughts on “How to start a business with no money: tips for entrepreneurs

  1. Great one! I really enjoy your video!
    I would like now to know how to really start a business?
    – The step involves, not only road map that we have to follow, but from where to start, etc!
    – Like what are the legal part that we need to be aware of? (Founder Agreement, NDA, etc.)
    – What can we make before registration to protect ourselves, and all the partners?
    – Is it possible to have 2 CEOs? Who should be the CEO if we start the idea together? Is having a CEO compulsory?
    – And more concerning StartUps incorporation.
    Enjoy what you doing 💯

  2. I've found this useful, thanks. And while I almost did all steps as you said, we're almost finished second, bigger MVP. And yes, we're doing this working on full day. But hey, this is so fun, I'm finally working on really useful stuff.

  3. I have a naive question?

    did you build the ai solution just for getting more round of investment "Silicon Valley buzz words" OR you need to differentiate your company with your competitor?
    and thank you so much for everything you share on this Chanel <3

  4. It's impossible to lose engagement on your videos with that amount of animations… Ah, I get it

  5. Perfect and clean explanation . I hope the next video will be about : How to create/Present perfect proof of concept for startups ? Thank you.

  6. Hi thank you for your videos. They are very informative. You mention startup accelerators that take idea stage companies? I know start up Chile is one of them as you mentioned it in one of your other videos. Is there anymore incubators that are kind of similar, as the company has an MVP and a few partnerships however we are struggling to raise capital to actually launch the product.

    Thank you

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