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How to Really Start a Business (or Why You Don’t Need Money to Make Money)

How to Really Start a Business (or Why You Don’t Need Money to Make Money)

    Everyone has excuses–conscious or otherwise–about why they can’t (actually won’t) earn more money. A common excuse is, “I need money to make money”.

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    You and I know that’s a myth (you do know that’s a myth, right?), but most people take it as a truism.

    A lot of people think they need tens of  thousands of dollars to get in on a franchise, or put cash down for a rental property, or buy into some silly multilevel marketing scheme.

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    The fact is, there are plenty of ways to make money without the need for a pile of cash — as Chris Guillebeau’s recent book, The $100 Startup, covers. The first step is to realize that there are always multiple solutions to any problem, whether it’s making more money, building your retirement nest egg/strongbox, or bartering for broccoli.

    Must-have tools for creating a business on the cheap are:

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    • A bootstrapping mindset: How can you get or do something for free or extremely low cost? Again, creative brainstorming and flexible thinking will help you figure out how to accomplish a task on a shoestring. Check out some more specific bootstrapping principles to get you started.
    • Small steps and a willingness to experiment: This is the iterative, lean startup approach, where you try something small & fast, learn from it, and improve. What? You haven’t heard of the lean startup approach? Well, start reading up on it. It’ll save you from wasting time and money, and reduce startup frustration and misery–unless you’re into those sorts of things.
    • Market validation: Again, from the lean startup/customer development paradigm, make sure that you’re offering something that people want and will pay for. It could be scooping dog doo, but you’re aiming at serving a market need. What what? You haven’t heard of customer development either? Not a problem. There’s great info out there to get you started.

    With all that said, you’ll also need to recognize your barriers to actually starting down the road of entrepreneurship. Here’s a list of the top 4 excuses people give for not making more money:

    • No time
    • No money
    • No expertise
    • No ideas

    When you reflect on why you haven’t started exploring how to earn more money, probably every one of your barriers (excuses!) falls into one of the above categories. You might say to yourself:

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    • “Starting a business is too complicated.” Nope. That’s the “no expertise” excuse.
    • “But I work insane hours, have eleventeen kids, and a 4-hour commute.” Granted, you might have limitations on your time, but you’ll always make time for the things that are most important. And 20-30 minutes a day is something you can carve out–especially if it’ll change your life.
    • “But I don’t have $10 grand to fund a business.” OK, go back to the top of the article and re-read it. Done? OK. Repeat after me: “I can start a business for under $100.” Say it again. And again. Know that there are many ways to do any task. Sometimes the first thing that comes to mind is some high-falutin’, expensive way. Dig deeper. Focus on exactly what the outcome is, and brainstorm all the crazy ways you could get to it. I guarantee you’ll find ways to get it done on the cheap.
    • “But I don’t have any ideas for a business.” Try this: train yourself to look for problems. That’s right — look for problems throughout the day, every day. Jot them down in a notebook or in Evernote. Remember that every problem is an opportunity. Successful, sustainable businesses solve problems. Don’t want to cook dinner? Go to a restaurant. Problem solved. Hate to iron your clothes? Take them to a dry cleaner. Problem solved. Want to find & stay in touch with friends? Join Facebook. Problem solved. (You get the idea.)

    It’ll take hard work, but the payoff is worth it

    Starting and building a successful business takes hard work. But since you’re reading this, you and I both know you have an urge for something better. You daydream at work about quitting your job. You curse your commute and wish you could ditch your day job. You feel stuck at a job you hate.

    While starting a business may not solve all your problems, it can give you a completely new worldview that’s empowering and full of possibilities. It took me a long time to get past my mental barriers and excuses before I started my own business, but when I began taking action, I started seeing things change. A few years down the road, I earn much more, have more financial security, more flexibility, and have no reason to complain about work. It’s been an amazing turnaround.

    And while I’ve learned a thing or two about how to do things on the cheap since I started my business, I was still able to start my business inexpensively–and so can you. Now though, you have the advantage of tons more free and low-cost tools for starting your business. The most important things in your toolbox are a bootstrapping mindset, a focus on experimentation, and providing value.

    (Photo credit: Businessman Reaching for Pennies via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    You should NEVER charge an hourly rate Why You’re Not Getting Any Business Results (But Still Working Like Crazy) How to Really Start a Business (or Why You Don’t Need Money to Make Money) How to Reach Your Goals By (Almost) Ignoring Them

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    Published on October 8, 2018

    13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

    13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

    Are you having trouble sticking to a family budget? You aren’t alone.

    Budgeting is difficult. Creating one is hard enough, but actually sticking to it is a whole other issue. Things come up. Desires and cravings happen. And the next thing you know, budgets break.

    So how can you stick to a family budget? Here are 13 tips to make it easier.

    1. Choose a major category each month to attack

    As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With that in mind, one approach to help you get into the habit of sticking to a budget is simply starting slow.

    Spend too much on Starbucks runs, eat out too often, and have an out-of-this-world grocery bill? Choose one bad habit and attack.

    By choosing one behavior to focus on, you’ll prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. You’ll also experience small victories, which help you gain positive momentum. This momentum can then carry over into your overall budget.

    2. Only make major purchases in the morning

    If you’re making large purchases in the evening, there’s a good chance you’re doing so after a long day and you’re probably tired.

    Why does this matter? Because our judgement tends to be off when tired – our willpower is compromised.

    Instead, only make major purchasing decisions in the morning when you’re energized and refreshed. Your brain will be firing on all cylinders and your resolve will be high. You’re less likely to give in and settle at this point.

    3. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

    Have trouble with impulse buys at the grocery store? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going grocery shopping while hungry.

    The problem here is that when you’re hungry, everything looks good. So you’re more likely to make split decisions on things that aren’t on your grocery list.

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    Instead, make sure you eat prior to your grocery store trip. Then take your list, along with your full stomach, and go shopping. Notice how food doesn’t look quite so good when you’re not fighting cravings.

    4. Read one-star reviews for products

    Is there a product you just have to have (but maybe not really)? Check out the one-star reviews.

    By reading all the horrible reviews, you may be able to basically trick yourself into deciding that the product isn’t worth your time and money.

    Next thing you know, you didn’t make the purchase, you saved the money, and you feel good about the decision.

    5. Never buy anything you put in an online shopping cart until the next day

    If you are making a purchase online, it’s typically a two-step process. First, you click “Add to Cart” and then you go in to review your cart and pay.

    The problem is that there not typically much reviewing during step two. It’s generally click pay and there you go. However, this is the perfect point to stop for reflection.

    Once you add to your cart, your best bet is to step away until the next day. Let the item sit there and grow cold, so to speak.

    This gives you a night to “sleep on it” and decide if you really want and need to spend that money. If you wake up the next day and still find the purchase viable, then perhaps it’s time to go for it.

    6. Don’t save your credit card info on any site you shop on

    One of the other pitfalls of shopping online is that fact that most sites ask you to save your credit card information.

    While the sites will frame it as a method of convenience, the truth is they know you’ll spend more money in the long run if your credit card information is saved.

    The “convenience” takes away one last decision-making point in the purchasing process. True, it’s a pain to get out your credit card and enter the information every time. But guess what? That’s the point. If that inconvenience helps you stay on budget, then it’s worth it. Which leads into the next tip.

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    7. Tape an “impulse buy” reminder to your credit card

    Credit cards make spending much easier than cash. When you spend cash, you can literally see your wallet emptying. A credit card comes out, then goes back in. No harm, no foul.

    That’s why it’s a good idea to tape a reminder to your credit card. Customize a message that is something along the lines of “do you really need this?” or “does it fit the budget?”

    That way when you pull out the card, you get one last reminder to help you question your decision and stick to your budget.

    8. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon

    Amazon is probably the easiest place online to blow money. It’s just so easy to click and buy. However, one way you can slow the process down is buy only using gift cards. Here’s how it works.

    If you plan on making a purchase on Amazon, go to the grocery store and purchase a pre-loaded Amazon gift card of the proper amount. There’s no convenience fee, so you literally pay for the money you’ll spend.

    Now take that gift card home and load it to your Amazon account. There’s your money to spend.

    Why does this help? It makes you have to purposely go to the score and purchase the card in order to purchase the item. That’s a pretty deliberate thing that takes some time, commitment, and thought.

    This process will effectively kill the impulse buy.

    9. Budget using cash and envelopes

    As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card. You can take this even farther by using only cash, and separating that cash by budget category.

    Create an envelope for each category and stick the cash in there at the beginning of each month. When the envelope is empty, no more spending on that category, unless you borrow from another (be careful of that approach).

    This can be pretty helpful for people that have a hard time following transactions in their checking account, or keeping a budgeting spreadsheet.

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    The envelopes simplify the tracking process, leaving no room for error. Nothing hides from you because it’s tangible in the envelopes in front of you.

    10. Join a like-minded group

    Making the decision to stick to something like budgeting is difficult. It takes long-term commitment.

    You’re going to feel weak sometimes. And sometimes you may fail. That said, support from others can help strengthen resolve.

    Support can come from a spouse or a friend, but they won’t always have the exact same goal in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a support group that’s likeminded.

    No need to pay here, as there are tons of free communities that fit the bill online.

    For example, reddit has multiple subreddits that deal with budgeting and frugal living. You can follow, subscribe, and get active in those communities.

    This will open your eyes to new tips and strategies, keep your goal fresh on your mind, and help you realize there are others dealing with the same struggles and being successful.

    11. Reward Yourself

    When you set a budget, it’s usually with a large goal in mind. Maybe you want to be debt free, or perhaps you want to see $10,000 in your savings account.

    Whatever the case, the end goal is great, but the end is often far away, making it hard to see the end of the tunnel.

    With that in mind, it’s a good idea to set mini-goals along the way. This helps you still look at the big picture but have something that’s attainable in the short-term to help with momentum.

    But don’t stop there – set rewards for yourself when you reach that small goal. Maybe it’s an extra meal out. Or a new pair of shoes.

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    Whatever the case, this gives you something in the near future to look forward to, which can help with the fatigue that can result in pursuing long-term goals.

    12. Take the Buddhist approach

    You don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize some of the wisdom in the teachings. One of the tenets of the philosophy involves accepting that we can’t have everything we want. And that’s okay.

    Sometimes you won’t feel good. Sometimes you’ll have cravings. You can’t deny them. But you can recognize them, accept them, and let them pass by. Then you move on.

    Apply this to the times you want to do things that will break your budget. You’re going to have the desire to eat out when you shouldn’t. You might want to stay out and spend too much at happy hour with your work friends.

    The feelings will come. Recognize them, accept them, but let them go.

    13. Set up automatic drafts to savings

    If you wait until you’ve spent all your budgeted money to deposit money into savings, guess what? You probably aren’t going to put any money into savings.

    It’s too easy to see that as extra money and end up using it to treat yourself.

    Instead, set up automatic savings withdrawals. That way, the money is marked and gone before you can even think about it. It becomes a non-issue. It’s no longer “extra.” It’s just savings.

    Conclusion

    Sticking to a budget can be difficult. No one is denying that.

    However, if you can do a few things to set yourself up for success, and put some practices in place to curb impulse buys, then you can (and will!) be successful sticking to your family budget.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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