10 ways to start a business with ZERO investment

Posted: February 26, 2017 in For a thought....
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Reduce your expenses. Work from home. Use online platforms. Use free ad sites. Use social media extensively and intelligently. Do not push sell. Wait for responses. Get rid of websites. Be honest. Build relationships. Give yourself time, time and time…
doing-paperwork
After reaching a certain age and entity in my life, I realized that I wasn’t finding any ONE single platform to put into effect whatever experience, skill sets and talents that I had acquired/polished over my lifetime in two countries. I wasn’t getting the appreciation or the value of my abilities.
….. So? Was I going to fade into the twilight yielding place to the new? Was I going to become complacent about my meaty lifestyle and retire?
… No! I wan’t going to give up on exploring new creative ideas and ventures, even if I have to do it all alone.
I wasn’t going to fade away into the twilight without sharing all that with the next generation, and there wasn’t any particular platform where I could bring it all on.
So I decided to use the internet in all its all strength. I decided to publish my ideas on several online platforms: Writing, editing, designing, creating newspapers, self-publishing, teaching editing, cooking and promoting Bengali cuisine, dancing and promoting Kathak internationally, promoting culture tours in India worldwide and writing my own books.
… After a while, I found websites too are passe. They only take up a lot of bandwidth and are costing me money. And no one is going into it. Free ad space is where people are. So I took advantage of free pages on social media and free ad sites to promote my ideas. They are also ‘businesses’ because unless people pay for your ideas they do not take them seriously.
So in a way, I had a chain of business which required zero investment.

I was thinking faster about my personal freedom and choice faster than the speed at which I was approaching 50. I realized I’ve had enough of reporting to my supervisors, trying to sell myself to be at their beck and call, trying to please everyone around myself, other than myself. I decided to finally crawl out of this slavery of being told what to do, and start telling others what they need to do.

It takes a long time; to be able to estimate yourself and set a price tag on yourself in actuality. To be able to emerge from the fear of Monday and get self-motivated to do things at your own time and pace. You have been too long judged by others who have been setting  a price tag to you. As I was approaching 50 I suddenly had a feeling that the end was drawing near… that I was surely not going to live as long as I have.
I have so long only lived for others: my family, my job, my boss, money, for anything and anyone, but myself. Yes, earning is important. Loving is important. But not at the cost of sacrificing your dignity and soul so much that you have no answer to give to your soul.
I decided to start building a relationship with myself.
Luckily, by 50 I had a substantial (in my parameters) financial security, enough knowledge and experience to be able to stop being a slave to any and everyone, start living life at my own pace, earn moderately to support myself, do whatever I loved doing, and set the right price tag for my talents and experience. I determined exactly when I was going to stop chasing money just for money. Because I had reached all my dreams and had to rebuild some more to sustain me for the next few years of my lifetime. For that, I needed time in my hands, some leisure to build a relationship with myself, explore my dreams and ideas and them lay out the fare for the world to buy.
Thus, began my business ideas. And I began to chalk out a path how to increase flow of money.
How to do all that without any investments?
These are some basic tips.
1. Reduce your expenses
I started meditating extensively to understand what I really want and need in life. Separating myself from peer pressures, societal pressures and trend pressures. I realized my needs are very limited. I didn’t need more than 2-3 summer wear every year. For winter, in Canada you are covered from head to toe, so whatever winter wear I had was enough for the next 2-3 years. and the new dresses I got during Durga Pujas were extraneous, but yes, I loved getting new clothes. I also realized I had very basic needs of home-cooked food and love to hang onto my old clothes. I realized there are so many things you buy only because your friend or neighbor has them or it is the fashion trend. Once you separate your own needs from these extraneous ones, you become more confident and aware of your own identity. Reducing expenses builds up savings. So whatever money I didn’t spend, I saved.
2. Online shopping
I stopped going shopping unless I needed something urgently. I started doing online shopping.  The good thing about online shopping is whenever you feel like buying something that you don’t really need, but wish for, you can just add it to your ‘Wish List’ to buy later. Later, you may not want to buy it at all. This curbs impulse purchase that we often do when we go out shopping.
3. Working from home
To set up your own business, working from home is the best and only option unless you have to REALLY go out and meet clients. You can give the address of your home as your business address and start using the benefits of the internet in the best possible way.
4. Explore free ads
Whenever I had an idea, I inserted a free ad on the free ad website about the kind of services I am offering, in Canada and India, and shared the idea with the right kind of groups on Facebook. I shared corporate business ideas on LinkedIn and softer ideas on Twitter. Believe me, most of my clients too are sitting on their computers, on their social media, looking through such ads. I have acquired the best and longest-lasting clients through these free ads.
5. Keep sharing ideas but don’t spam
This is where your creativity and understanding of human nature comes in. Keep sharing your ideas on the right public platforms, but keep a reasonable time gap between each ad. You don’t want your readers to spam you. Yet you don’t want them to forget or miss what you are doing, so you have to be regular, consistent but not come on too strong. You have to learn that pace yourself.
6. Self-discipline and self-motivation
People want to see how consistence you’ve been about your ideas. So you have to keep sharing ideas but not repeat them. Give them your ideas packaged in a new gift wrap every time.
And make a routine for yourself every work day. Set your own work days and work times and follow that rigidly. Also give yourself two days off from all this business, or else you’ll lose the energy. Self-motivation and self-discipline is the basis of doing business alone.
7. Interact with people who respond to your posts
Do not spam people if they are not responding. Your business will lose the respect. Communicate consistently with people who responds to you. Remember, people need a soft push to decide, not a hard one. Also it’s selfish just to reply to the responses you’ve got. Try interacting on their own posts too. This builds relationship. If you see a relationship is taking your business somewhere, it’s good. Or else, you may have to stop  wasting your time.
8. Give a lot of time on the internet
How am I going to package my which business today, is my first thought of the day. After doing yoga and eating a healthy breakfast during the first hour of my day, and after meeting my family needs, (since I am a mom, a wife, a housewife, a daughter, a sister and a friend first), I begin to think how am I going to sell my business today in such a way that it won’t bother people, instead they will be excited and feel compelled to click on my link. For that, you have to understand the people in your social media and how they use the internet.
9. Websites are passe
I learned one thing clearly: Business is done with people, not with brands or websites. Also business involves another big factor: TRUST.
If you have people giving you orders based on the trust factor you’ve built over a period, you don’t need an expensive website to certify how good your business is. Word of mouth travels faster than light or sound. So believe in yourself, be honest, build trust and be truthful in your services. And it’ll be just a matter of time you’ll be overwhelmed by clients.
Websites only draw unproductive people who are not really serious about doing business with you. They just want to see a fantastic website. And you may want to eliminate people who judge a book by its cover.
10. Hire people on project/on-call basis
My publishing house has an international team of editors, designers and writers. But they are all on project/on-call basis. I draw out a contract stating the same right at the beginning. Hence, since the project is mostly funded by the self-publishing authors, I do not have to pay anything from my pocket. The business mostly depends on creative talents, efficiency of editing and designing, and honesty, honesty, honesty. My pool of editors and designers are extremely experienced and talented. I am proud to say that I’ve hired the best brains who can do a much, much better job than those operating by the name of editors in the market.
Hence, with self-discipline and self-motivation you can slowly give up your full-time job and immerse in your business from home. DO NOT PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET. Step out of your comfort zone slowly, but steadily. Only then can you release yourself from this slavery and the fear of Monday. You cannot even begin to imagine the kind of sense of freedom that your business will give you!
I can proudly say that I am running four businesses and one consultancy service absolutely with zero investment. Of course, by ‘zero’ I mean zero dollars. I needed a lot of investment of my time, intelligence, brains, honesty and some leg work. Rest comes to me automatically.  So whatever you earn, is yours completely.
Let me know what you think of this by commenting below.
Thanks.
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