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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)

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    Last Updated on January 2, 2019

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

    Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

    Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

    This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

    Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

    What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

    Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

    When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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    How It Leads to Financial Improvement

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

    Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

    Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

    It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

    Types of Personal Finance Software

    When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

    Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

    For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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    Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

    When to Use Personal Finance Software

    So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

    Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

    1. You Have Multiple Accounts

    There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

    If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

    Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

    2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

    Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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    There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

    With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

    3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

    Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

    Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

    Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

    4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

    Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

    You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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    How to Get Started

    From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

    Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

    It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

    When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

    Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

    Final Thoughts

    Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

    In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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