Young Entrepreneurs – How to Start a Business with $20 or Less

How I started a small business as a kid and still make money with my passion today

Lots of people have great ideas – and sometimes enterprising young people have dynamite solutions or plans that can’t be acted upon for several reasons (school, work, lack of financing, etc). If Zuckerberg had allowed those things to stop him from carrying out his ideas when he was studying at Harvard, we wouldn’t have Facebook today and he likely wouldn’t be worth ~$33B. I’d say it was worth the risk for him, and the coolest part is that he’s free to do what he wants which is every entrepreneur’s dream. As a side note, what he wants to do is change the world more than he already has.

Find Your Arena

OK enough about Zuck. How can you start this kind of thing? Is it so hard? When I was a kid, I found myself interested in web design and development. After a while of being all about that, I found other people who were in the same arena through local meetup groups and even at my local church. These guys and gals were capitalizing on the same thing I was doing purely for personal enjoyment. I was excited at the idea and also bewildered because I couldn’t imagine being paid for doing something that was so enjoyable.

Find your passion. You could be doing underwater basket weaving or tasting wine, you could be excited about raising horses or training for triathlons. It doesn’t matter how small, all that matters is that you think it’s cool and when you take that passion and turn it into cash – you’ll never work a day in your life doing it. Everyone is interested in something and the odds that you can get hundreds or thousands of followers who enjoy the same thing you enjoy in your favor, so if you think your niche isn’t particularly cool or interesting to other people, think again.

It’s All About Presentation…?

I feel there’s no Devil in the detail on this one, just get out there. Starting out, I would recommend an online presence. A presence could purely be a social presence or you could procure your own space on the web. The point is that you must have a way to blog, make videos, interact with people, build a list, and ultimately make money.

So far we haven’t spent a dime. So let’s maybe spend a little of that $20 I mentioned. There’s a lot of articles, forum posts and tutorials on YouTube about how to start your own site – so I really won’t waste time explaining how to do that here. Here’s an article on how start a site and install WordPress (a very awesome blogging platform) for under $20, and what do do after WordPress is installed. I don’t know the dude who wrote that article but I would do everything mentioned in that article to optimize your online presence. His advice is solid.

What Now?

An online presence dedicated to your niche and profiting from that niche is a lot like having an office building with your logo on it and an open sign on the door. You are doing business as an individual (eventually look at getting a DBA or officially incorporating the business once it takes off). The point is, you are off to the races.

Set up a goal starting out. There is a hell of a lot of information out there, and you will go bonkers trying to put it all together for action. If you have a three or four step plan for the first 3 months, you may still go nuts putting it all together but at least you have some form of blueprint you can lean on when in doubt about what to do next during that time.

What’s the goal? You could really go with something as basic as:

  1. Make the site and get some pages up, decide where you want to promote your site in order to get some site visitors (traffic)
  2. Write 10 articles minimum, or make videos with the same content – whatever you’re comfortable with
  3. Write a report and then give it away for free in exchange for email addresses (this is called a lead magnet)
  4. Write an eBook or create another digital product and sell it to the leads generated in step three (the leads can be referred to as your “list”)
  5. Keep providing value to your list, you don’t want to just sell stuff to your followers all the time – try to be personal and engaging

That’s enough to keep one busy for a while, and a great start. The last resource I linked to in step three actually provides a very sophisticated flow chart on processes you can follow and test when you have some groundwork in place.

Done. Next?

At this juncture, we hope to have a system in place that’s semi-solid and has generated a few leads or even sales – that is the objective, after all.

The next part should follow the “goal” model. You can have new ideas for expansion such as utilizing AdSense and/or Facebook for ad placement, starting to put out affiliate links in your articles, participating in free webinars to gain more publicity, getting some guest bloggers to contribute, and even traveling to conferences to meet new people in your niche or even speak at those events, which is an amazing experience. But again, you can get really overloaded with all of the new ideas and possibilities if you don’t have a concise plan to lean back on.

Boring data stuff, like pie charts and graphs! Keep testing and tracking in the back of your mind. Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and split-testing new things you learn and implement are all important. How else will you know what is working, and more importantly not working?

Never Give Up

“The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.” — Chinese proverb

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