How to start a company without money

Let me clarify something out of the gate. You can’t really start a company without money. I just need to reach out to people who seem to be the only option for them.

A better title might be: It Doesn’t Take an Inheritance to Start a Legitimate High Growth Business Anymore. Because a lot of people start wrong and fail because they don’t know it.

I took this path in my younger days, before I realized the true concept of a startup. I thought getting started was about raising seed money from venture capitalists to hire people to master technology to build the business machine I wanted to build.

This is true. It’s the path most people imagine when they hear the word start. And when he encounters people who are new to entrepreneurship The facts of this wayThey argue that the barriers to entry are insurmountable. They don’t know the first thing about the planned presentation, and they won’t have connections to the people to show them to in the first place.

So they give up. Or, worse yet, they’re heading into a multi-level scheme, ship landing, paint by numbers. And it explodes on them, because it’s not supposed to be a business for them. Its sole purpose is to earn money for the scheme.

But a venture capital-oriented presentation path to an IPO is just one way to start a business, and it’s far from the only way. In fact, simply dividing the definition of “startup” on one axis allows you to put the “automatic” startup on one side and the “task” on the other.

Machine startup vs emerging tasks

I don’t mean “important” as in alms and good works. I mean “task” as in solving a problem using any means at your disposal. The startup job requires a lot of learning and a lot of hard work, but for the record, starting a machine also requires. The difference is instead of learning how to pitch, hire, and hold a board meeting, the learning and hard work goes into building, selling, and scaling.

This is why every legitimate entrepreneur starts a business in the first place – to build, sell and expand. Unless you’re just for the money, but I have a feeling that people interested in money just stopped reading this post when I said it takes more than zero money to get started.

I’ve simultaneously lived in both the automation and messaging worlds, throughout my business career, which has spanned nearly three decades, sometimes doing both at the same time. This is what I learned about trying to build something from nothing.

Change your point of view

I don’t want to be a preacher, but if you’re going to go the mission path, you have to decide what you start your business for. Coming to terms with a single concept is a difficult exercise. Having said that, it is imperative that you do not skip it.

The mission of my first startup, Intrepid Media, was to uncover great writing for quality writing alone. The mission of my newest startup, a teaching start-up, is to Making entrepreneurs more and better by providing affordable startup advice.

Everything I do adheres to this mission, and my expectations for the growth of those tasks—one based on writing and one based on entrepreneurship—must be reasonable, even light.

Refine your solution

With the start of the machine, the product is the most important thing. If you can develop a great product that serves a lot of customers, the usefulness of that product can be improved once you gain traction.

We did it at Automated Insights. We first figured out how to get machines to write content from data, and then we built a product around it. We raised over a million dollars before we sold our first product.

As you start a mission, you have to demonstrate that the unique solution to a customer’s problem will work before you build a product around it, and this is the chicken-and-egg possibility where most emerging tasks fail.

Fortunately, there are concepts such as minimum viable products. In the case of an MVP, you can test the viability of your solution in a real market, with real customers, and real revenue, without all the expensive automation.

This will take time, and you don’t have much time to waste.

Learn No-Code and Low-Code Code

It doesn’t matter what you’re building, you’ll need to rely on technology and innovation to gain an edge. In areas such as marketing, sales, e-commerce, and customer service, there are any number of third-party providers (HubSpot, Salesforce, Shopify, Zendesk) that can put your company on a somewhat equal footing with larger companies. But these providers will only give you part of the way there.

No-code or low-code solutions will help you centralize your information around a single point, such as a website or even just a database.

Moreover, the lack of code and low code will allow you to build in-house applications to help you innovate, whether that innovation is built into the product itself or just how it is accessed and delivered.

Achieving sustainability and seeking incentives

Here’s the most important question to start a mission: What can you include in your business model to keep it alive indefinitely until you discover one or more catalysts that can act as catalysts for growth?

Example: I can run the Teaching Startup “forever”, or as long as I can have entrepreneurs ask me questions that I or others can answer. It’s a low cost to run, not my primary source of income, and all the “things” needed to sell and deliver the “product” are almost all automated with no code and low code.

It took me a while to get to this point, but this allows me to spend most of my time figuring out how to make the product more valuable, and more broadly, to more people. I do this by looking for catalysts — new features, bigger customers, strategic partnerships, better marketing tools, whatever — that can take the business to another level.

Plan to grow slowly

Starting the machine is simple on paper. raise money, allocate that money, Go collect more moneyRepeat until exit. In practice, it is more difficult.

Starting a mission is the opposite. There is no definitive way to scale growth, but once it is written down on paper, implementation and sustainability becomes much easier.

It just takes forever.

You will have to find catalyst after catalyst in the same way that automated startups have to raise funding after funding round. In the same way that startup founders always need to be wary of poor financing terms and investor requirements, mission-critical startups must be vigilant about avoiding shady partners and clients that promise the world but never come.

Two ways to get to the same place. Both are full of potential risks and rewards. Just one is much more than that for most people. And in fact, a startup job can always evolve into a nascent machine, but it doesn’t have to.

Failure will always be there, no matter which path you take. But the worst kind of failure is failing at something you don’t like because you think there is a very big obstacle stopping you from doing the thing you really want to do.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.