Starting a Business with no Money PART 1


In the last guide I asked readers and viewers what exactly is stopping them from starting a business.

The number one reason that came up again and again was MONEY.

We all sort of assume we need:

  • great business idea
  • a team
  • and cash

To start a business.

That’s fairly traditional.

And wrong.

The age of the bootstrapped solopreneur is well and truly here. It’s just that traditional conceptions about business haven’t caught up yet!

In this guide I’m going to show you step by step how to start a business with zero cash.

Here’s a video intro on the topic.

In this guide we’ll cover:

  • Part 1: Best time to Start
  • Part 2: Low Cost Business Ideas
  • Part 3: Earn Immediately Whilst Validating
  • Part 4: Grow Without Investment
  • Part 5: Raising Money with Proven ROI

Let’s get started:

Best Time to Start

You know I’m going to talk about trees here right?

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Some smart Chinese guy ages ago.

It’s a good saying. And it’s true! But I’m not just gong to leave it at that.

Because that dude didn’t have AI.

AI has changed the game. For once starting 20 years ago may not be the best time!

There are two forces at play here – positive and negative, the carrot and the stick. Both caused by AI. Both equally important for your future.

The bad news first

Just last week The Guardian newspaper here in the UK published a think tank report about the impact of AI:

AI ‘apocalypse’ could take away almost 8m jobs in UK, says report

Women, younger workers and lower paid are at most risk from artificial intelligence, says IPPR thinktank

Now, that 8m number is the worst case. That’s about 22% of the entire UK work force, roughly 1 in 4 workers. Of course the newspaper focused on that scary figure. Got to get that click!

But even if worst the case scenario isn’t realised what’s for certain is that AI is coming like a freight train for certain jobs and entire industries.

And a lot of us are standing around on the train tracks, Airpod Pros stuck firmly in ears, humming along to Taylor Swift.

Yes, AI will make new jobs. Yes, people will retrain. Yes the global economy will (probably) keep on chugging.

Humans are great at finding a way to botch our way through it. We’ve been doing it for Millenia. I’m fairly certain we’ll manage to do so again.

But that doesn’t mean that individuals are insulated. This is the risk.

Sure humanity as whole will probably be fine if not better in the long run.

But that doesn’t make it any easier for individuals who are about to, in the technical parlance, have their shit rocked.

These individuals are going to have a rough time of it. In the same way the cart drivers, the hand weavers, the British miners and all the other industries that have been automated and supplanted have.

New jobs were made yes. But not fast enough for the people who got hit by the freight trains of the car, loom or Maggie Thatcher. Toot toot.

The good news

Welp that’s the end of the issue have a lovely week! Bye!

Nah, I wouldn’t do that to you.

The fact that you are here, reading about AI entrepreneurship of all things, means that you will be ready for what’s about to happen.

In fact more than that you are in a position to thrive.

The problem with having a single job, a 9-5, is the instability. If you have ONE source of income and that one source of income gets removed what happens?

This is why we don’t make one legged stools.

Instead, if we have multiple sources of income all ticking away for us we put ourselves in a more stable position. Much like three legged stool or, if I may be so bold, a four (!) legged chair.

Come what may with AI (and we don’t know what’s coming exactly) having flexibility gives us optionality. We will be able to flex.

Having a business or side income to replace or supplement our job puts us in this stronger position.

And thankfully, it’s also never been easier to start a business.

Because of AI.

The good old days

When I started my first online business I had to:

  • create the product
  • design the brand
  • write the copy
  • build the website
  • integrate the eCom
  • structure ad campaigns
  • handle customer service
  • deal with shipping/inventory
  • do the bookkeeping and accounting
  • etc. etc.

I had to do all of this because I had no cash. It was my first business. It was hard to raise cash (no track record) and I didn’t have my own cash to invest.

I couldn’t hire for these skills with no money.

So I had to learn them myself. It’s the solo founders dilemma: you need either a team or cash or preferably both.

AI has changed that. I now have in my pocket an expert on all of the above.

For some tasks I will use AI to directly do the work. For others I’ll use AI as a assistant to give me step by steps.

Either way I’m able to supplement any of my shortcomings with AI. Which in turn allows a founder to plan, design, build, launch, market and fulfil faster and more efficiently than ever before.

You, as a solo founder, are no longer alone. AI has lowered the barriers to entry for starting a business if you know how to use it correctly. And it’s my job at Prompt Entrepreneur (and the new AI Futurepreneur Forge) to teach people how to use it for business.

But the economy

Oooh but the economy is bad. It’s the wrong time. Interest rates are blah blah blah. VCs in San Francisco are saying such and such.

Stop it.

For one, it’s outside of your control. Are you going to wait ten years until the conditions are just right? Hint: they never are. I personally left uni in 2007 just as we entered the worst recession since the Wall Street Crash. Shit happens.

Two, there are plenty of good reasons why starting a business in a recession is a GOOD idea. Here’s a video so I don’t have to rehash this again!

As someone in the comments pointed out we’v been in on/off recession for 10-15 years! Worrying about the economy is just an excuse.

Over the next 4 Parts I’m going to show you how to start a business with no cash.

And why in fact have no cash is going to make your business way stronger in the long term.

The trick is to know what sort of business idea to pursue and how to manage its rollout. There are a very specific set of steps that will allow you to start with zero and build from there. I’ll walk you through step by step the process I’ve used on countless businesses (countable actually – 30+!) and taught to others.

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