Starting a Business with no Money PART 4


You’ve launched your stripped down minimum viability service, got a handful of customers and – most importantly – learned from them what their main problems and challenges are.

Now we have real intelligence with which to grow.

Before we do it’s useful to know what our actual growth targets are.

Lots of people grow for the sake of it. Or they aim at some guru touted number like $10,000/month.

It’s much better (and healthier) to actually know the figures you need to reach.

Let’s get started:

Grow Without Investment


Grow without investment

  • Work out your own personal financial goals for i) replacing your 9-5 ii) living your dream life.
  • Sketch out growth plan and financial goals for each stage. Connect to your personal goals to start. Calculate sales required at each level of growth.
  • Price in this growth from the start. Work out your reinvestment % and build that that into your growth plan.

Don’t grow for the sake of it.

Instead work out your actual personal income goals.

You should have a figure for:

  • replacing your 9-5
  • Living your dream

Replacing your 9-5 is relatively simple because you’ll already know your current take home pay. Use that + all the other benefits you get from your job (health insurance, pension etc) all added up to work out the replacement figure.

Use two principals here – conservatism and simplicity.

For conservatism let’s say your salary is $40,000 and you aren’t really sure about the additional benefits value. If so just double the salary to $80,000 as your figure. Go higher than you think is necessary.

For simplicity don’t agonise this process. You don’t need 6 interlinking spreadsheets for this to get the exact amount to a dollar or pound amount. A nice round 10,000 is fine.

Using both of these principals let’s say your current take home with benefits is somewhere around £34,000-£37,500. Easy, your replacement target is £40,000.

For living your dream life we need more variables.

I’ve built a calculator that will walk you through the process.

Act as an entrepreneurial coach who is helping a first time business founder to work out how much they need to earn in order to live the lifestyle they want

Walk through this process with me one at a time. Ask the questions for each step, await my answers and then move to the next step:
-Define your ideal lifestyle. What does quality of life look like for you? Consider aspects like hobbies, travel, housing, possessions, experiences, family time, how many children, etc. Guide me through this process to gather information on what the ideal lifestyle looks like. 
-Research cost of living. Ask me where I want to live. Look up average prices for housing, food, utilities, transportation in your desired city or town. Factor in costs of your lifestyle. List annual costs. Make a detailed list of estimated costs for your lifestyle. Include necessities and discretionary spending. Generate an estimated cost of living.
-Identify goal costs. Determine one-time and ongoing costs for major goals like buying a home, starting a business, having kids, dream vacations.
-Calculate annual amount needed. Add up all annual costs and goal amounts needed. This is your baseline yearly income requirement.
-Factor in taxes. Use the amount required and the location's tax bracket to provide a tax estimate. Adjust the annual total by subtracting estimated taxes to get your pre-tax income target.
-Add savings buffer. Ask me to decide on a savings percentage (e.g. 10-20% of income) and add this to get total needed pre-tax income.
-Provide a final result of how much is needed per year in a tabular format with the costs that make up this required total.

Obviously this is not financial advice – these are thinking tools to get you started working out the actual income you need from the business.

It’ll be rough but it’s better than just saying $10,000 a month!

Product and service mix

Now that we know the end goal we can apply the business plan.

My recommendation is the following value stack:

  • low cost digital product
  • High cost digital product
  • Service offer

That service that you constructed and launched previously? That’s going to become your premium offer – the thing you charge the most for.

Why? Because your time will become more and more expensive as the business grows.

My hourly rate used to be around £50 ($60).

It’s now £1000 ($1250) for the hour, a 20x increase in a year or so.

This happens naturally as your expertise, audience and business grows.

And it’s also because the other parts of your business will be making money which means any time not spent on them is an opportunity cost.

To structure your business the three main challenges or problems that your customers have and structure them into products.

They have a problem, you help them solve it with your expertise. Using first low cost then higher cost products and services depending on how much assistance they need to reach their goal.

Example products

Let’s say that your expertise is teaching kids to skateboard. Your customer here is the parent (because kids don’t have money) who want their children to learn to skateboard.

Through your manually delivered service you realise that the main challenges are;

  • teaching the children confidence
  • Learning to ollie (jumping on a skateboard)
  • Safety and how to fall properly to avoid injury

You see these topics come up again and again with all the customers you work with.

Now you turn these into products.

The low cost products for could be:

  • Audio course on child confidence for parents
  • Short video course on ollie technique
  • Short pdf booklet on safety

You’d match the format (video, audio, text) to the problem at hand. And you’d like have a handful of low cost products per problem.

The purpose of these lower cost products is to get people on their journey with you. They should be easily consumed and immediately actionable. Being too long and complex here is actually a hindrance!

Your higher cost products is where we have the detail. This is where people who need additional assistance will come next.

Think video courses, workshops, full books etc. More detail, more value, more chance of the customer reaching their goal. And higher price.

The third layer is your service, at its new higher price point. It could be a reworked version of the current service or something new. Whatever serves the customer best.

Let’s use another prompt to pull all this together:

Act as a business planning strategist

Design a business model using the following instructions and parameters

The business has a funnel consisting of low cost products, high cost products and premium service

Assume >$100, $300-500 and $1000 price points

For every 100 low cost product I sell assume I sell 10 high cost and 1 service package.

Assume 80% profit margin on sales, immediate 20% reinvestment and 25% tax on the remaining profits.

Assume the rest comes out as personal income

I have three levels of personal income goals

Escaping the 9-5 - [amount]

Dream life - [amount]

Calculate the sales mix required to hit the personal income goals. Give me both annual, monthly and daily sales targets

Also assume for every 100 people who see my offer I’ll make a low cost sale. Use this to work out rough traffic requirements

Provide me the daily, monthly, annual reinvestment totals too.

Remember to plug in your income targets.

You’ll need GPT4 (paid) for this to run the numbers properly. Alternatively use Microsoft Copilot which gives you GPT4 for free. If reading this later this won’t be an issue.

This prompt will take your income goals and smush it together (that’s the technical term) with the basic business structure to come up with an idea of what level of sales you’ll need.

Here’s an example output for escaping the 9-5:


Chances are you’ll think two things simultaneously.

  1. Huh. The requirements to escape the 9-5 are not that high. High sure but not undoable. At all.
  2. The requirements for dream life are actually high and I’ll never get there.

That tends to be the reaction here! But it depends on your entirely and what income requirements you put in.

Interestingly though the first section of getting to 9-5 replacement is probably the toughest because it’s where you are learning the most. You as a person will have to change. Entrepreneurship is the best form of personal development out there!

You’ll also notice I added in 20% reinvestment. Feel free to tweak this (and any parameter in the prompts, as always).

This is how we scale without needing funding. I’ve built it directly into the model so that you both get paid and have cash to reinvest.

This model, whilst rough, gives you the basic plan of attack you’ll need to get started.

It will 100% change over time. Plans always do. But it’s enough to get started with and (most importantly) not spend months trying to work this all out.

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