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  • Rohit Musale, CFA

I Don't Have Money to Start a Business

Updated: Jan 1

You want to start your own business, but you don't know where to begin.

You want to start your own business, but you don't have any money.

What kind of a business should I start?

Have you ever asked yourself that question?

If you are thinking, 'what kind of business should I start?', in this post, I want to give you some context, which can help you answer that question to yourself.

The reason why I decided to take this topic is that, my mentor Robert Kiyosaki taught me years ago, that one of the fastest ways to achieve financial freedom is to start your own business.

Financial freedom comes when your total monthly passive income either equals or exceeds your total monthly expense.

And passive income comes from assets.

And there are four broad asset classes:

  • Real Estate

  • Commodities

  • Paper Assets

  • Business

Out of these four asset classes, the best asset class, which can take you to financial freedom quickly, is your own business.

So please pay attention to what I am going to be discussing here.

Because this is directly related to you achieving your goal of financial independence.

If you can start your own business and make it successful, there is no other way that can take you to financial freedom, which is faster than this way.

So what I have done here is:

I have listed down 21 different criteria that you must be considering before you start your own business.

Research proves that 90% of the businesses that are started, fail in the first five years of their operations.

This is the reason why, the criteria that you use to start your business is extremely important.

Now, out of these 21 different criteria below, try to hit at least 15 of them.

That should be more than enough.

I think you can't hit all of them because every business model is unique in its own way.

Let's begin.

1) 1,000 customers per day

Don't start a business, which will never have the capability to handle 1,000 customers per day.

Let me give you an example.

Let's say you are sitting at Starbucks cafe, and you are enjoying your coffee.

After five minutes, you see that 1,000 people have gathered outside the cafe to have their coffee as well.

Is this cafe capable of handling 1,000 customers walking into the store?

It is logistically impossible.

Globally, Starbucks is serving millions of customers.

However, if we look at this one cafe outlet as an individual business unit, it is not capable of handling 1,000 customers per day, because it has limited supplies and inventory.

Plus it has limited seating capacity and manpower.

However, on the other hand, you look at Amazon.

Amazon can handle 1,000 customers per minute, forget about handling 1,000 customers per day.

You can clearly see the difference between these two business systems here.

So when you are going to start your own business, try to build the foundation of that business, such that in the future, it is capable of handling at least 1,000 customers every single day, which means, make your business, systems dependent, not people dependent, which is what Amazon has done.

Your small business may not be able to handle a lot of customers in the initial days or months of the business.

But over a period of time, it should be able to scale to a level where it can handle 1,000 customers per day.

In my business, I would be happy to have 1,000 customers per day because I am selling a digital product, and that too globally.

I have installed systems in my business, which are 100% online, which allows me to handle 1,000 customers every single day.

2) It must not require your physical presence

Do not start a business which constantly requires you to be physically present.

Because if your business requires your time, it is not actually a business.

In that case, you yourself are the business.

And that is not a scalable model.

Your business system should be so strong, that it should make money on its own, without requiring your physical presence.

I have an e-learning business.

And it really does not require my physical presence.

If any student wants to sign up to my course, he can do so anytime he wants, even while I am sleeping.

That is the kind of business that you must get into.

Again, in the initial days, this might not be possible.

But over a period of a few weeks or months, your business model must reach a stage where, it really doesn't require you to be physically present.

It must run on autopilot.

That's a true business.

3) The ability to operate with just a laptop and a mobile phone

Do not start a business which cannot be operated fully with a laptop and a mobile phone.

If you need more than a laptop and a mobile phone to operate the business, then that is not a business that you should be getting into.

We are living in the information age right now.

We are living in the 21st century right now.

Technology has advanced enough such that everything in your business can be managed with either a laptop or a mobile phone.

So if you want to scale fast, make sure you don't get into a business that cannot be operated online.

4) No dependency on the Wi-Fi or the internet

For your business to operate seamlessly, make sure it is not dependent on your Wi-Fi or internet.

So for some reason, if the Wi-Fi or internet at your office is not working, it must not hamper the daily operations of your business.

Let me give you an example.

If you go to the bank, and the server there is not working, the people working in the bank will feel handicapped, because they are relying on their systems to serve their customers.

However, if your business and your products are completely on the cloud, and are not dependent on you having an internet connection all the time, then your business can work smoothly and seamlessly.

For example, in my business, I am providing digital products.

These products are already available on online platforms.

So for some reason, if there is a power cut in my house, which by the way is my office, students from all over the world can still sign up to my digital training programs.

And they can get lifetime access.

So, not having internet at my home does not hinder the growth of my business.

Please keep this point in mind.

5) No dependency on electricity

Let's say that there is a power cut at your office or at your home office.

If that is affecting the operations of your business, then that is a business that you should not get into.

Let's go back to the example of the Starbucks cafe.

If for some reason, the air conditioner is not working, or the coffee machine is not working, because of some abrupt power cut.

Do you think that business can operate smoothly in that kind of a scenario?

They will have to wait for that power to come back.

Or they need to install some alternate power source like an inverter, which is an increase in cost for the business. Right?

That cafe is completely dependent on the supply of electricity.

Whereas in my business, it doesn't matter whether I have electricity, or whether I have internet at my house 24/7, because my products are on the cloud.

As long as my customers can buy my products online, my business is doing fine.

My business is working fine, even if I am on a vacation.

My business does not require me to be at my home or at my laptop all the time.

That's the kind of business you must get into.

Your business should not be dependent either on electricity or on the internet.

6) Zero employees

Make sure your business is systems dependent, not people dependent.

Gone are the days of having employees and headaches related to managing employees.

These days, you can choose to work with freelancers and virtual assistants from all over the world.

Why would you work with full time employees, when you can actually hire people on an hourly basis?

Don't get into a business where you will need full time employees.

This will save you a lot of money, and a lot of headache.

7) No office

This is a mistake that a lot of entrepreneurs make.

Before they even have a single customer, they spend a lot of money renting an office space, putting furniture, buying software and hardware and things like that.

And then they start a business only to figure out that their product does not have a market at all.

Don't do that.

Start a business from your home.

As I said earlier, any business which cannot be operated from your laptop, or a mobile phone should not be started at all.

Save all that money that you would spend trying to set up an office.

I am in the fourth year of my business, and I still don't have an office, and my business revenue grows month after month.

Because, my business is online.

It does not require my physical presence, which is why, I get time to write posts like these and serve my audience with valuable content.

I also work with virtual assistants, and people who work on a contract basis.

All of them are working from remote locations.

So why would I put my money setting up an office.

I would use that same money to invest in Facebook ads or Google ads, which can get customers to my products, right?

That is a better use of my money.

8) No marketing collateral

When I started my business, I ended up wasting some of my money trying to create a logo.

I wasted money trying to print leaflets and brochures.

I wasted money by printing business cards.

Then I came across a book written by Chris Guillebeau, which was titled 'The $100 Startup'.

In that book, Chris says that, you only need three things to start a business:

A customer, a product, and a way to get paid online.

You don't need a logo, a brochure, a leaflet, or a business card or even a website.

All you need is a product to sell, a way to get paid online, and a customer, who is willing and able to buy the product.

As long as those three conditions are met, you are in business.

Don't waste your money on creating marketing collaterals.

9) Setup time must be less than two months

Any business that takes more than two months just to set up, should not be started at all.

You don't want to end up spending the next two to three years in a business, which does not generate a single dollar in revenue.

If it takes you just two to three years, simply to start the business, then tell me what's the point in starting the business at all.

Start a business, which can be quickly set up in less than two months and can start generating revenue immediately.

That gives you validation.

That tells you, there is a demand for whatever you are offering.

Once you know that there is a demand for the product that you are offering, then you can think of aggressively scaling that business.

10) It must be 100% digital

Let me say this in simple words.

Start an online business.

I cannot say it more clearly than that.

Don't get into a brick and mortar business.

Not only will it take time to set up, but also you will be heavily invested in that business.

However, an online business can be set up very quickly.

The idea can be validated very quickly and if at all you feel that, the business is not working, you can close shop quickly without losing a lot of money.

So the cost of failure in an online business is very small.

That is why I say, start an online business.

11) Start a pandemic proof business

The corona virus pandemic hit the world in March 2020.

The whole world went into a lockdown.

Hotels, restaurants, bars, spas, salons, grocery shops, cafes, multiplexes, theaters, etc.....everyone went into a lockdown.

None of these businesses were working during that lockdown.

Imagine the kind of financial pain that the owners of these businesses must have endured during that period.

And this lockdown, in some way or the other, has lasted for almost two years.

This has increased the uncertainty factor for business owners.

Some of these businesses were never restarted.

They went bankrupt.

Make sure that, when you start a business, it is pandemic proof.

I launched my first product in March 2020.

It was the exact month when the world went into a lockdown.

I can tell you that, ever since that month, my revenue has kept on growing.

This happened simply because, I designed the business in such a way, that it was not dependent on government policies.

While starting the business, I did not anticipate a pandemic kind of a situation.

However, the foundation that I set up for this business was such that, the pandemic never affected the business.

That is why I reiterate: start an online business.

Every online business has flourished during the pandemic.

Because, due to the pandemic, the entire world went online.

12) Regular revenue must start in less than six months

Start a business which has the potential to generate revenue regularly, at least on a monthly basis, within a period of six months.

You want to be in a business which generates revenue regularly.

You don't want to be in a business, which gives you cashflow in a month, and then makes you wait for a couple of months to get the next cashflow, in the fourth month.

The business must generate at least some kind of revenue every single month, if not every single week.

Initially, when you start the business, you might not see revenue.

But, over a period of next six months, it should at least give you the confidence that, the business has potential to generate regular revenue, month after month.

That confidence you will get, only when customers start buying your product or service.

13) $500 per month in passive income in less than one year

Whatever business you start, it must have the potential to start generating at least $500 per month in after tax passive income within one year of starting the business.

So for example, if I start my business today, and if I complete one year, then from the 13th month, the business should give me at least $500 per month in after tax passive income.

I am talking about profits.

I am not talking about revenue.

The net amount that you should get in your pocket is minimum $500 every single month.

The more the merrier.

$500 seems to be a very small amount.

However, since this income will be passive income, which does not require your physical presence, this money will have a lot of value to you.

This money does not require your time to come in.

Ask anyone you know, if they can earn $500 extra, without working?

Would they accept the deal?

I am sure they will.

I would have accepted that.

14) Digital products

Forget about creating a physical product.

If you are starting a business, you are going to create a digital product, or you are going to sell other people's digital products.

It is easy to create.

It is faster to create.

You can sell unlimited copies of the same product.

It does not have any storage cost.

It can scale your business fast.

There is no marginal cost of creating an additional product.

How many more benefits do I need to tell you?

There are some businesses where the physical product requires refrigeration.

Imagine how costly that can be, for that business.

You not only need electricity, but you also need refrigeration to preserve those products.

That's the problem with having a physical product business.

To create each additional product, you have to spend money.

There is a marginal cost attached to every new product that gets created, plus storage cost of course.

But, for a digital product, it is only a one time creation cost.

Say for example, you create an eBook, and you price that eBook for $10.

You can sell 1 million copies of that book to generate a revenue of $10 million, right?

You don't have to write that book 10 million times and since it is digital, it can be delivered instantly.

There are no courier charges here.

Can you now see the power of a digital product business, compared to a physical product business?

There are a lot of restrictions as to what you can do with a physical product.

But when it comes to a digital product, the sky is the limit.

15) Zero customer support

The best businesses are those businesses, which do not provide any customer support.

Sounds counterintuitive, right?

However, I am referring to those kinds of businesses, where the product itself is so good, that the customer doesn't have to come to the business for any kind of support.

Take the example of Apple.

The laptop that I am working on right now, is a MacBook Air.

I remember buying this, six years ago.

To this date, as long as I can remember, I have never contacted the Apple support team, because the product itself is great.

The product solves my problem, and the product works perfectly fine.

It has been doing so for the past six years, without giving me any kind of a headache.

This kind of a business is called as a zero customer support business.

So, when you are creating your product, ensure that the product itself is so good, that when the product is delivered, all of the value that you have to deliver, it's packaged in the product itself, so that the customer never has to come back to you.

Trust me, if you get into customer support, you will find yourself working in the business, not on the business.

That will be a complete disaster.

That will not be passive income for you.

You will have to spend hours answering customer queries.

You have to make sure that, whatever queries you anticipate from your customers, are already answered within the product itself.

Your product must be a complete package in itself.

This will save you a lot of time and money.

Don't get into a business, which requires a tremendous amount of customer support.

Remember, customer support is not an activity that brings money into your business.

It's an activity that sucks money out of the business.

16) 10 hours per week

Initially when you start a business, it might take some time to set up.

You might find yourself spending 10 hours per day on the business.

However, once the business is set up, it should not take you more than 10 hours per week to operate the business.

When I say a week, I am not counting weekends.

So, if you look at 10 hours per week, I am talking about 10 hours over five days, which means, per day you should not be spending more than two hours on this business.

Which also means that your business should be heavily dependent on systems, not on human labor.

Your business should not be dependent on man-hours.

Those two hours that you spend in your business should only be for specific activities, which only you can do.

Everything else can be either automated or outsourced.

Anything and everything that can be automated in your business must be automated.

There are enough systems available online at very affordable prices that can completely automate your business.

As I said earlier, we live in an information age.

So take advantage of these platforms.

I will make separate posts to talk about these tools, software, and systems, that you can set up in your business.

In fact, I will share with you the tools and software that I am using in my business, which completely runs my business on autopilot, without requiring my physical presence at all.

So make sure that the business that you start, should not take more than 10 hours per week, after it has been set up.

17) Setup cost of less than $200

Don't start a business, which requires you to spend more than $200 as the initial startup cost.

Ideally, a true entrepreneur is always the one who starts the business without investing a single penny of his own.

However, $200 is something that is easily manageable.

And since it will be starting an online business, $200 is about the limit of it.

You can set up websites these days, for as low as $10.

Some websites or pages can be set up for no money at all.

I know some entrepreneurs, who don't even use a website.

Their entire business is set up on a Facebook Page.

Tell me how much money does it cost to create a Facebook Page?

That's called true entrepreneurship.

Don't start a business which requires you to spend more than $200 as the initial setup cost.

The criteria that I am discussing here is so important that, it will keep your cost of failure very low.

Imagine that you start a business that does not require you to spend more than $200.

If that business fails, how much money do you lose?

Hardly anything, right?

Do you get the point now?

18) First sale in less than three months

Whatever business you start, make sure you get that first sale within three months of starting that business.

If you don't get your first customer in the first three months of starting the business, then probably there is no demand for the product or service that you are offering, through this business.

Please keep that point in mind.

19) Side hustle with potential

Ideally, the business that you start, should initially be a side hustle.

You don't want to be quitting your job and starting a business.

Financially, if that is possible, then that would be the best thing that you can do for yourself.

However, if you are like most other people who are having some financial constraints, then you are better off, starting a side hustle online.

However, the side hustle must have future potential, to morph into a full time business for you.

That's the kind of side hustle you need to get into.

That is why I am a very strong supporter of online businesses.