Dateline: Belgrade, Serbia
Starting a business from scratch can be a challenge. Continuing to grow that business and become successful can be even more challenging. It takes a certain mindset to become a successful businessman or entrepreneur. The good news is that the mindset is more important than the money or the experience.
I started my first business years ago. Since then, I’ve met many successful high-net-worth earners and have grown a business that helps other people to take their business and ideas overseas and succeed.
Over the years, readers and viewers on our YouTube channel have reached out to ask how they can achieve the same success.
In this article, I’m going to answer some questions you might have if you are wondering how to start a business with no money and I will give you my advice from my years of experience for how to get into business and then grow your business successfully.
How to Start a Business With No Money
Someone asked me the other day, “What would you do if you were broke and unemployed?”
About sixteen years ago, I was.
I received no money in loans, grants, gifts, or trust funds from my parents. I started off totally from zero out of high school. I spent about a year in university before getting out of that. From there, I decided to start a business in the broadcasting industry.
During the day, I worked on my business, but at night, I wriggled my way into working with a radio station. It was a great way to bring in a little extra income and gain experience in the industry.
I got the job by first pitching them on hosting a show and they allowed me to do that as long as I brought in a sponsor for $60 a week. They put me on Sunday from 11 to midnight – real prime time.
I ran my show at their station for around eight weeks. Then, I got a bit bigger sponsor and went to another station for another eight weeks. That is when I realized that I didn’t really want to be on the radio myself. I just wanted to be in business.
So, I went back to the original station and asked them what I could do to help them. They weren’t hiring, so I had to show them how I was going to bring value to the table. When they asked what I could offer, I told them that their website looked terrible. That was probably too blunt, to be honest, but they said okay and told me to make them a website.
After I made the website, I realized we had never agreed to terms. The radio business is one of the cheapest businesses on earth, so they couldn’t really pay me. So, I asked if I could come in and produce a show and they agreed.
I was back on the night shift, 6:00 pm to midnight, four days a week.
That’s how I got started in the radio business – building my broadcasting company from my apartment during the day and producing shows for a radio station at night.
There are three lessons I learned during this period of time that have served me well ever since. They are:
- Network and Find Mentorship
- Create and Sell Value
- Learn to Face Rejection
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
1. Network and Find Mentorship
Working the night shift at the radio station was a great way to meet people and learn how the radio business worked. The station owners let me run around the office all alone, looking over contracts and marketing materials.
I was able to use all of that to build contacts, and I eventually even brought one of the station owners over to my business as a partner as it grew. I was also able to see what they were doing successfully as a radio station and apply that to other radio stations that I was helping.
Most importantly, I was able to use this opportunity as a mentorship of sorts. I gained experience, not by asking them to do something for me but by offering to do something for them.
Today, so many people reach out because they want your mentorship, but potential mentors want to know what’s in it for them.
When the radio station asked me what was in it for them, I told them.
By creating value for their company, I was given the value of mentorship and access to a network within the radio business that was invaluable as I learned how to start a business with no money and build it into something successful.
2. Create and Sell Value
This brings me to my second piece of advice for those who want to know how to start a business with no money: figure out how you can add value to other people’s lives and then go out and sell that.
You may not have money, but you can create value.
If you really do have something of value to offer, the key to success is to learn how to sell it. Now, sales has never been a word people particularly like. Who likes a salesman? Back when I started, not even entrepreneurs were considered to be the “cool thing” like they are today in the #entrepreneur era. Today, entrepreneurship is cool. But even now, not enough people understand and appreciate the importance of sales.
If you don’t have sales, you don’t have revenue, and if you don’t have revenue, you don’t have a business. But sales is not a necessary evil, it is a positive and essential component of the market for both businesses and consumers.
Sales is simply connecting two people with something of value.
In my own business, I was able to connect people who wanted to buy radio time with radio stations that couldn’t make their payroll – single stations with one owner, stations that weren’t part of a corporate chain, and so on – and convince them to let me help them by bringing in these shows.
There was always that one station that was on the verge of going out of business. They could never pay their staff. I came in and we took their sales from $10,000 a month to $60,000 a month very quickly with this paid programming. It may not have been the most fascinating programming, but no one was listening to their stations anyway because they didn’t have a marketing budget. No one even knew these stations existed.
But there was value in the exchange, so I made a business around selling that. You can do the same. Find a way to help people and sell that.
Nomad Capitalist was my opportunity to sell what I know how to do. I sold everything in the United States, including my businesses, and decided to take a mini-retirement before starting another business with a new idea.
I was no longer broke, so I took advantage of my wealth and traveled the world. During that time, I blogged about my travels and my adventures as I built an offshore strategy and lifestyle by opening bank accounts, getting residencies, and investing in foreign markets.
Over time, people started to reach out and ask for help to do the same. That’s how Nomad Capitalist got its start. Today, Nomad Capitalist is a full-service consulting company. The people who come to us do so through a very streamlined process – we get to choose who we work with.
It developed into this over the course of many years because people could see the value of what I had to offer, and I was willing to continue creating and selling that to them.
3. Learn to Face Rejection
If you’re broke and unemployed and want to know how to start a business with no money, you may not have the luxury of slowly creating a lot of content and waiting for people to come to you. That’s why you need to be picking up the phone, sending emails, and facing rejection.
Your top priority needs to be to become successful.
You can do that by living overseas to cut your costs if you’re from a country where things are expensive. You can go and live in a country where things are less expensive. But nothing will save you the unpleasant cost of rejection.
If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to face rejection.
When I was first building my broadcasting business, my number one strategy was to make cold calls. I looked for people who had radio shows that they were paying for – like infomercials or other businesses buying airtime to promote something, whether it was gold, nutritional supplements, or anything else.
I would call these people and tell them that I could get them airtime on even more stations. Then, I would call struggling AM stations that needed to sell time or that I thought would benefit from selling time.
It was all about cold calls.
To this day, I can look back and remember radio hosts that I reached out to who were insulted by the fact that I wanted them to pay to have a radio show. They had these big egos and didn’t want to pay. Some of them were unpleasant about it.
But that’s the name of the game.
If you can master being rejected, you’ll do well in business (and dating and any number of endeavors), no matter if you start with nothing or have every possible resource at your disposal.
HOW DO YOU GROW AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Another question I have been asked is, “How do you grow as an entrepreneur?”
One of our followers made a good comment about this, essentially saying that there is a separation between the rich and the poor: the poor blame the rich for being rich but they are also the ones advising you to be normal.
To grow as an entrepreneur, you have to recognize that entrepreneurs are not normal. You are different. Especially if you’re a Nomad Capitalist entrepreneur living and traveling around the world, that’s definitely not normal.
Living paycheck to paycheck is what most people identify as normal. You don’t want to be normal and you don’t need to waste your time trying to change others’ minds about that. Not everyone is going to be a digital nomad. Not everyone is going to be a Nomad Capitalist. Not everyone is going to be an entrepreneur. Most people don’t want to be, and that’s fine.
But if you’re relying on other people to change their minds about what you are doing and how acceptable and normal that is within society – if you’re seeking validation or advice from most of the people around you – you’re not going to grow as an entrepreneur.
You need a circle of valuable people who will push you to grow.
1. Surround Yourself With Success
Going back to my original example of how I built my business, I found people who were doing something that I wanted to do. Then, I tweaked it. The people that I learned from were basically doing what I wanted to do in one place, and I wanted to do it across the whole country.
But they had the skills of what worked.
That is how I would grow. If you’re still surrounded by people from high school who are hanging around bars in town, then it’s probably time for you to get some new friends. You only grow as much as what you’re surrounded by.
That is one thing I’ve learned, especially through traveling and living around different cultures. People are rarely aware of anything beyond their immediate surroundings. They define “normal” by what they see. That is how they are going to live and it is likely what they’re going to advise you to do.
If you go to someone and ask them how to start a business with no money or explain to them how you plan to do it, they likely have no idea that things could even be done that way and they’re going to challenge you on that.
If you’re surrounding yourself with people who are small-minded or unfamiliar with where you’re going, that’s going to hold you back.
I’ve known folks over the years who don’t understand how it’s possible to make over $100,000 a year or how it’s possible to make more than $10,000 a month. If you’re asking that with such incredulity then you’re probably never going to make over $10,000 a month.
One of the things I’ve done to become more successful is surround myself with people who make a lot of money because being around people who have already done it helped me to realize that it was possible.
You may never reach certain levels, but you at least know it’s possible. I’ve met people who have made hundreds of millions of dollars in their lifetime. That might not ever happen to me, but I know that’s a real possibility.
I want to learn from someone who has been winning for a long time – the builders, those with long track records, etc.
Some of the most fascinating people for me to spend my time with are folks in their 50s and 60s who have been successful in business for 30+ years. They’ve seen it all. They’re the guys who have been sued, the government has come after them, they’ve faced it all. There’s nothing you can do to shock them because they’ve seen it all.
I’d much rather learn from people like that – people who have been around the block. If you surround yourself with this type, you’re going to have more opportunities to grow than you would hanging out with someone who’s been successful for just a year and a half.
2. BE FAMILIAR WITH YOUR FLAWS
The second thing you need to do to ensure that you continue to grow as an entrepreneur is to learn your flaws. You have to learn what you are not good at – and hopefully, you can delegate that.
You also have to learn your flaws from a personality standpoint. I don’t suffer fools perhaps as well as I should. I used to constantly feel bad when I would bring fools into my life and then get frustrated with that. My solution has been to tighten the hiring process. This allows us to find only great people to work with.
There are certain things I’ve never gelled with. There are personality types I don’t get along with. I’d rather not have those people around. Rather than trying to push through things that aren’t a fit for me, I’ve found sometimes it’s better to go around it.
If you have the right level of self-awareness, you can navigate around these issues more easily.
3. Prioritize Growth
When you’re trying to grow, you have to make that a top priority.
As I get older – with over 15 years of relative success – I can start to prioritize relaxing a bit for the first time ever. I have 20+ team members who I can rely on to do stuff. I’m able to do less and not have to go hard 24/7 to enjoy the same level of success (or more) compared to when I was learning how to start a business with no money.
But when you’re just starting out, there are sacrifices to be made and experience to be gained.
That is one thing I have learned by surrounding myself with successful people: new starters have less experience and a lot more judgment, but that judgment starts to melt away the longer you’re successful.
I remember sitting at someone’s house on Christmas day several years ago and learning that this individual had been sued by some employees. The reactions from those in the room were very revealing. Those there who were new to business just acted like he was a jerk. But the people who had been in business longer and had made more money sympathized with him and discussed procedures and prevention with him.
But I digress. You have to get through those things. No one becomes super successful without running into problems. But as long as you make growth a priority and commit to it, you’ll get through it and you’ll come out the other side with experience and more success than ever.
If you’re hanging out with people who can’t imagine having problems or pushing through them, it will be just as difficult to grow as an entrepreneur as it would be if you were hanging out with the people who can’t imagine making more than $10,000 a month.
That’s how I would focus on growing as an entrepreneur. Surround yourself with successful people who can show you the possibilities and have made it through the challenges, be aware of your weaknesses, and then prioritize and work toward that growth.
Entrepreneurship Is Its Own Reward
Whether you are figuring out how to start a business with no money or you have already had some success and are looking for ways to make your business grow, these are some of the valuable lessons I have learned in the past 15 years of personal business experience.
Learn how to create value and sell that to the right people. Seek out mentorship and don’t shy away from rejection. All along the way, surround yourself with successful people who can inspire you, be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, and never lose your focus on growth and success.
And recognize that once you reach a certain level, you may have to switch horses. Perhaps one mentor gets you to a million dollars in revenue but they aren’t going to get you to $10 million. Realize that you may need new people to help you progress further.
My father once told me, “It’s lonely at the top.” When you’re doing great things, it’s going to be difficult. There may come a time when you find yourself alone because no one else you know is going the same direction as you.
But are you really going to stop going after what you want just because the average person doesn’t understand it?
Whether you are trying to figure out how to start a business with no money or you have made it to the top, entrepreneurship is never a normal path. But just as you can start a business from nothing, if you’re anything like me, the challenge of entrepreneurship is part of the draw that keeps you coming back for more.