Duff O'Melia

Don't You Need a Ton of Money to Create a Business?

A friend of mine has been an entrepreneur for over 35 years. In that time, he has created a number of successful businesses. In addition, he’s spent a good deal of time networking with other business owners and entrepreneurs. So he has a pretty good understanding of how businesses are created and how they succeed.

He mentioned to me that it’s a common misconception that it takes a ton of money to create a business. In his experience, many of the successful businesses out there have been started by people with little or no money at all. In fact, a good number have been started by folks who had no other choice.

He said that he’s one of the people who had no choice. You see, many years ago, he was down and out and had less than $10 in his checking account. He had lost his job and was having a terrible time finding work. He had no money, no job, and a family depending on him. He would describe it as a humbling experience that caused him to rely more fully on God.

He decided to try to serve some of the restaurants near where he lived. He had a knife sharpener and he thought he might be able to sharpen some of their knives for some money. He felt humiliated that he couldn’t find work and that he was walking up and down the street with his knife sharpener in hand. His family needed to eat and he didn’t know what else to do. Over time, restaurants started allowing him to sharpen their knives. His business expanded and he eventually started renting knives to his customers. What started out as nothing became a successful knife sharpening / knife rental business.

Why share this story? Well, I haven’t saved a ton of money I can invest in a business. Therefore I need to find a way to serve people and provide them value in an incremental fashion and gradually improve my business over time. It doesn’t need to start out as a grand venture to create a new industry. I only need to provide some value and improve people’s lives in some small way.

I’m not going to seek venture capital or an angel investor. I think there are a ton of problems with that approach. I would have to give up some if not all authority and the investors are often interested in a speedy return on investment rather than a slower developing long term successful business. I also think that people spend their own hard earned money much more judiciously than they do someone else’s money given to them.

If you don’t have much money to start a business, how can you possibly create it? Using your time and energy rather than money. But what if you have
no time? That will be the subject of a future post.