The Business Question I Get Asked the Most

When talking about starting a business, the business question I get asked the most, or the thing that gets brought up the most, as to why someone can't start a business themselves. It's a combination of a couple of different things, but it always boils down to the same sentiment. It's always, "How can I start a business when I have no money?" or "How can I start a business when I have no time?"

The Perception of Lacking Resources

I hear this as you lack the resources to start a business, or you think you lack the resources to start a business. But just because you don't have the resources doesn't mean you can't be resourceful. You can be creative, you can be smart, you can be calculated, or you can be desperate—like I was when I started my business. That desperation will take care of all those things for you, provided you don't give up. Desperation is the ultimate force of innovation.

My Experience with Native Scooters

When I started Lifeboat, now known as Native Scooters, I had been saving up all my money from working full-time and spent it on a batch of handlebars. But as I moved onto my next product, I had no money because it was all invested in handlebars that I was sitting on and selling two or three a week. I wasn't selling them quickly enough to have a lump sum of cash on hand to invest in the next phase of the business, which would have been launching another product.

So I spent many hours on Google SketchUp, creating a pretty decent mock-up of a product. Then I sent that mock-up to a friend who was really good at designing products. He turned it into an official 3D production-ready file that could go to the factory and exported some renders for me. A render is a computer-generated, semi-realistic image of the product.

Turning Mock-Ups into Sales

I took these images, just basic images, to potential customers, which were different freestyle scooter distributors around the world, and asked them if they would like to order any and put down a small deposit to lock in their desired quantity. They would pay for the remainder of the stock when it was produced and ready to ship to them. They were all keen, so I took orders and collected deposits. I placed the order with the factory using the money from their deposits. Once the goods were ready, I got the rest of the money for the order from the distributors and paid the factory. The profit leftover was mine. I made a decent chunk of money without having to spend a single cent. It was a few thousand dollars profit for me.

Leveraging Resources and Connections

Obviously, a lot of other things had to go my way. I had talented friends ready to lend a hand, some connections to factories, and connections to distributors. But mostly, I was just ambitious and desperate, which spawned this type of creativity and resourcefulness.

Syndicate Store: Another Example

Another personal example for me is my other business, Syndicate Store. I've told this story in more detail on this channel in a video called "Fortune Favors Freedom." But the quick recap is that around the same time I started Lifeboat, I also started a scooter shop. Instead of trying to sell my products directly from the brand's website, I opted to create an online store where I could sell other people's products as well. But nobody would let me stock their product except one supplier in the whole country. The big five suppliers around the country all said I couldn't get their product unless I had a physical store.

Overcoming Initial Hurdles

I had no money to open a physical store, so I just went with the one supplier that would stock me, even though I was just an online store. They were kind enough to give me the stock on consignment, which means as I sell it, I pay them for it—no money upfront. This allowed me to create a website and present myself to the industry as an online store with more products than just my own brand.

Attracting Investors

In doing this, I attracted an investor, someone already operating in the industry who ran a company and wanted to partner up with me. They offered me $10K to help open up a storefront, and I was going to take it. I told my friend, and my friend told his dad, who reached out to me and ended up offering me $50K instead to be my partner. That was the day my life changed, but I had no idea that that's where it was going. I wasn't even trying for that. I was just happy trying to run my business with no money, making whatever I could from whatever I had, just being resourceful. It's only because I had that mentality and just went for it full steam ahead that I was able to attract those investors.

The Importance of Starting

So you don't need money to start a business; you start a business as a way to get money. I've heard people say things like, "Oh, if I could just get $50K to get my business off the ground." But at that point, they have nothing—no product, no shop, no website, no minimum viable version of their business already operating. And that's just not how it works. I got $50K to really get my thing going because I was already going. I already had the ball well and truly rolling. I was going full steam ahead, making as much as possible out of whatever I could, as soon as possible. I was already all in without anybody else's help. When you operate like that, opportunities such as customers and investors are obviously more likely to come your way. How can a customer even come your way if you don't have a product to sell them? If you don't have a service that you're already trying to offer?

Taking Action

Imagine saying, "Oh, if someone gives me $50K to start a business, I'll go halves with them in the profits." But at that stage, what about you would instill $50K worth of confidence in the potential investor? You can't just be doing nothing and expect something to go your way. You can't just say, "I would do this if..." You need to be doing it already for the "if" to present itself.

Practical Examples of Starting with Nothing

So in the Lifeboat example, I used a mock-up of the product to generate real sales. I was already doing as much as I possibly could. In the Syndicate example, I took stock on consignment and just started doing everything I could, pushing my business as much as I could with whatever I had. This led to multiple investors thinking, "Oh, this guy's doing shit. I can deploy some capital here."

Leveraging Your Current Skills and Contacts

I know you could be listening to this and think, "Yeah, yeah, start with nothing. Bullshit. You had contacts and a reputation and friends in the industry." But also, so do you technically. Whatever you already do for a job, you know people in that world. Whatever you do for fun as a hobby, you probably have a reputation in that scene. You know people, you know where to look. So you do have something to start with regardless.

Starting from Scratch

But for the sake of argument, for the sake of the video, how would I start a business with no contacts, no reputation, no money, and no time? Well, firstly, I would hope that my examples would get some inspiration flowing for you. Obviously, they're both super specific to me and my life, but I don't just mean ideas about how to do it, but also ideas of what to do.

Finding a Business Idea

What is it that you might want to do for a business? You could create and sell a product. You could offer a service. You could curate information and make it easy to access, so it gets lots of eyeballs, which you could then monetize by creating a product or service that you could naturally offer to those people who benefit from your information curation. That's actually a really fun one that I think about a lot.

An Example: Basketball Court Reviews

So say you love playing basketball and going to basketball courts is something that you regularly do. Imagine you started documenting it, taking nice photos and videos when you're there, posting reviews and informative videos about the courts on Instagram, TikTok, or whatever you prefer, and making a simple website with a blog post for each video as well. Create a whole online presence as the court review person.

It might sound silly because technically Google Maps already does that, and there are even some sites that already do that. But the websites are always some lazy software solution hacked together where they just get the address from the Google Maps directory and then even use the Google Maps API to take a screenshot of the court from the bird's eye view. And they call that "court curation." And they're just shit. That's not what we're looking for.

Building a Community

You want to know if the nets are replaced regularly. Is the water tap good? Are there toilets close by? Are there multiple courts? Are there lights at night? Are they often busy? The busyness scale that Google has is actually good, so I can't talk shit on that. There's a court near me that I've played at, and it's positioned in a really annoying garden with rocks everywhere. If you miss your shot, your ball goes into the garden, hits the rocks, and just goes really far away. It's really hard to get the ball back. Just the way it's set up, it's way shittier than if the court was just in a nice open field. I actually don't play basketball there because of that. It's just not worth it when you miss a shot.

Turning a Hobby into a Business

But the gist is: visit, review, document, publish. Done well enough for long enough, you could turn this into a business. And before you say anything, one, that's just a totally random example of a thought that I just had in passing. And I could think of a million more if you don't actually think that it could be applicable to basketball.

Finding Your Niche

Two, there's a million YouTube kids visiting and reviewing fun places to go, so shut up. You could do it too. So anyway, this imaginary basketball court reviewer that I'm talking about could eventually develop a small local following, obviously local because it's a pretty local thing. I'm talking a couple hundred, maybe a couple thousand followers. Nothing crazy. You don't need millions.

Expanding Your Reach

That is enough to organize some half-court competitions and get enough of a community going around the content and eventually even charge sponsors to be involved with the events. But notice how I've stayed away from saying, "Get lots of followers and do influencer deals." I just think that's a silly treadmill to get on. And I would never advise it because it's just solely metrics-driven. You just have to keep running on that treadmill.

By the time you've got a decent community going around what you're doing, you could do just anything, such as, like I said, having events. That is one thing that so many communities are starved for—just actual, real-world events. Everything's gone so online. People don't realize that there's actually so much money to be made in getting people together and hosting a sick event for them. And yeah, with a little community and following like that, you could just start creating products.

Creating Products and Services

You could even create your own little brand around basketball, and you've already got this awesome connection to hundreds or thousands of people that could potentially buy your products. And it's about something you love, so that would be awesome.

But anyway, that's just some random basketball example of how you could actually make some money doing something you love without needing any money to start. Parents do this with visiting indoor play centers and things like that. It might sound silly, but anywhere where you can curate information and deliver value to people can become a business.

Finding Time and Passion

Of course, it does require a little bit of time, but if you can't find an extra hour in the week to go somewhere you love to go and take photos, videos, document it, publish it, curate that information—if you can't find the time to do that in the week, then the whole entrepreneurship game might not be for you.

Practical Business Ideas

So, okay, what's a way less weird example of a business to start that doesn't require money upfront? Knock on your neighbor's door and offer to mow their lawns once a month using their equipment. Do this to all of the people in your neighborhood or go as far as you have to until enough of them say yes for you to make a living off that.

Offering Simple Services

It's not as fun as the basketball example, but it's still worthy if the goal is just figuring out a way to increase your income without needing any money input. Put the free-to-list ads on Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace and just say, "I will do this for this much," just to get an idea of how much people will pay for convenience. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to start a business with no money if you're just prepared to do things that most people don't want to do.

Discovering What You Enjoy

But once you do some of these random things for money, you start to get an idea of what you do and don't want to do for money and what you find worth it or not. You might be stoked to walk someone's dog for money, but you might hate cleaning driveways, gutters, or windows for money.

Leveraging Your Skills

But all of this so far ignores one of the biggest benefits that you would already have up your sleeve, which is what do you already do for money? Or what are you already good at? Because that is likely where you have the most leverage, the biggest upper hand.

Focusing on Your Strengths

I would not be good at starting a car detailing business because I don't know shit about cars or cleaning them. But I would be good at helping someone set up the infrastructure for a business like that because I have a deep understanding of how booking systems work, how to build websites, and how to run a business in general. But if someone is super into cars and takes pride in keeping their own car really clean inside and out, they would be a way more optimal candidate for starting a car detailing business than a basketball court review business.

Applying Your Knowledge

If you work as a landscaper, you may have picked up enough tricks of the trade to be able to offer small landscaping packages to customers by yourself. If your boss is paying you $30, $40, $50 an hour to do a job that he's charged the customer five grand for, and you can do the whole job yourself, you could be charging the full five grand. The only difference is he got the client, quoted the job, and then passed the work on to you. You could get the client, quote the job, and do the work yourself or pass it on to someone under you who is happy to do that work and is maybe still learning on those easier jobs. But there's no reason for you to stay in that position forever. Life should be progressive, not repetitive.

Ethical Considerations

So swap car detailing for anything you're passionate about or already good at. The landscaping example of leaving your job to do your current job as your business can be a little bit of a touchy subject because obviously your employer has invested in training you up, and there may even be some legal ramifications, like making sure you're not poaching clients, obviously. But at the end of the day, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to start a business for yourself in the same field that you're already excelling in. I did, and I see people every day who are so freaking talented and basically running the place that they're working at, but they're working 24/7 and barely have any money to show for it. Those are the people I think should start their own businesses. They're obviously being undervalued, and it's not dodgy to do that. If your employer doesn't want you as their competition, then they should be looking after you, paying you enough that you don't feel like you have to go out and compete against them to make as much as you feel like you need to earn or want to earn.

Getting Clients for Your Business

Getting clients for a business like the landscaping business or the car detailing business could be a whole video in itself. But since we're here, I'll just try and quickly compress it into some little actionable steps.

You could offer really, really cheap or even free projects to friends and family, take good videos and photos of the process just to use the content to share to prove that you know what you're doing. Make a Google My Business account because that is honestly pretty powerful. You can appear high up in Google just if you're close enough to someone when they're searching for that thing that you're offering.

Marketing and Outreach

Put those photos and videos on your Google My Business listing, Facebook, and Instagram—whatever you can. In the early stages, just do whatever you can to show your work to as many people as possible. Letterbox drops, whatever you have to do. And just put the word out to friends and family and ask them to help you and spread the word a little bit. You'd be surprised how far something like this can get just from going to everyone around you and saying, "I'm doing this, can you please help? Can you tell someone, show someone, book my service, buy my product?"

Starting a Business with No Money and No Time

But yeah, for anything more than just taking photos and videos of your work and doing whatever jobs you can do for cheap or even free, if you have to, to be able to get photos and videos of your work to share with people, anything more than that in regards to marketing and outreach would have to be a bit more of a deeper, more complex, longer video. But I wanted to at least include that in this one while we're here on the topic.


There you have it: how to start a business with no money and no time. And I guess I lied a little bit about the time. Obviously, anything and everything that you do takes time; it literally ticks away as we're just standing here existing. But like the example of the products, it took very little actual time. I was working full-time at the time that I was doing that. The same goes for starting Syndicate—I was working full-time and had barely any money while starting that.

The basketball example might be a little bit exhaustive, but it would also be pretty fun at the same time. It's got a flywheel of fun built into it, which is pretty important for loving what you're doing long-term. The landscaping example would take time for sure, but most people who are always working and have no time actually only work five days a week and have their two days on the weekend. You just have to sacrifice some of them to do those odd jobs to be able to get some photos and videos of your work to show people.

But in any of these examples, the main crux of it is: you don't need money to start a business, you start a business to get the money. Obviously, there are businesses that do need money in order to start or launch, but that's not where we're at right now. That's not what we're talking about anyway. We're trying to find ways that we can just start even without money.

So I do hope that has been helpful in some way, and even if this isn't the step-by-step playbook that you might've hoped for, I do hope that it at least got some creative juices flowing for you and has you considering some options for yourself based on what you're already good at or what you already know how to do and what resources you have available.

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