Money, professional experience, well-established connections, natural talent, a highly profitable idea—all are resources for creating a business. But can you start a business from scratch if you have no startup capital, but you do have skills such as filming and editing video, writing program codes for mobile applications, and creating site designs? The stories of real people we found by surfing the Internet prove that it’s possible. Make a mental note to yourself of their practical advice.

Concentrate on improvements

Andrew Burnett-Thompson, IT consultant, Great Britain:

“I’m a programmer. While working at a company, I worked in parallel and wrote the programs that I now sell online. Instead of tackling a ‘unique thing that nobody had ever done,’ I decided to concentrate on improving already existing products. I can say that at start-up, 90% of your success needs to be gotten through your own sweat and 10% through your skills.”

Concentrate on improvements needs

Founder of SnapInspect Sam Owens

told how while in search of an idea he conducted a poll of local businessmen, asking what they most disliked in their work. When he established that real estate agents hate compiling advertisements (you have to travel to the site, photograph it, return to the office, edit the photographs, compile a description ...), he asked them whether they’d like to use a mobile application that would help them edit the pictures on site. They not only said, “Yes,” but even agreed to pay for the future program. Later he began asking how they would want that application to look in order to clarify details. And as a result, he came up with the the product they wanted. If you create what people need, sales will follow. But first you have to find and study your audience—consumers— and then tackle the product’s development.

Don’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty!

Clayton Hockenberry, business trainer:

”I was ten years old, and I began going into stores and offering to sweep the sidewalk. As a result, I gathered about eight spots. Many salesmen gave me other work, too, for separate pay; for example, I washed cars. Not too great a business, but I was able to put together a pretty decent sum of money. A friend of mine began cleaning chimneys, and now he earns $300,000 a year that he spends on paying people who know the chimney cleaning business better than he does. Don’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty! Go out onto the street and ask people what they need. You can mow lawns and clean swimming pools. Incidentally, that’s the way some millionaires began their businesses. One of the stand-out examples: a fellow began by using an excavator to dig canals for laying sewer pipes, and later he became the founder of the largest swimming pool installation business in the state.”

Begin with services that you can handle

Sandeep Chautan, Intel employee, Michigan:

”Begin with services. Don’t even think about producing a product—it demands too much money and time (it takes from six months to a year from its introduction to when you get any money.) And you needn’t whine about not having any skills: You have to have a skill to walk dogs, and to work as a nanny, too. You don’t need to be a techie to say that you have a special qualification, because the ability to build relationships with people is a skill, too. With it you can, for example, set up an employment agency. Find your strong suit—that’s very important. When you’ve found it, you’ll understand what kind of services you can render with its help. Don’t try to be what you aren’t.”

Prepare for difficulties

Chris Mark, founder of the Spokal marketing platform:

“You can place ads about a search for job openings at free-lancers’ portals. Don’t ask for a lot of money and be sure you bust your ass to make your customers happy. Tackle small projects so that doing them doesn’t take too much time. Your site rating will grow thanks to well-discharged orders. As your reputation grows, you can raise the price of your services. In order to get customers outside the platform, begin establishing long-term partnership relationships with them. And that’s only one variant among a multitude of possibilities. Initially, you don’t open your company, but find yourself work elementarily. So that everything doesn’t stay at the same level further on, take the next step: hire assistants. Remember that running your own business isn’t easy. So ask yourself ahead of time: are you ready to take responsibility and experience difficulties; on some dark day won’t you just say to hell with it all? If you quail before difficulties, you’d better get a job where you just work for hire.”

Take advantage of expertise and acquaintanceships

Gil Ale, enterpreneur from New York:

”When you have money, you can hire a specialist. When you have high qualifications, you can find an investor. I advise you to find a job you like and learn it well enough that you become an expert at it by working for some knowledgeable person. One fine day your qualifications will let you start your own business. One more thing! There are things that don’t demand money or high qualifications to start a business. For example, you can make use of your own connections and acquaintances!”

Become a Web designer

David Seidman, manager of antivirus programs at Microsoft:

”Try programming, learn HTML5. ‘Train’ your sense of style, master the basics of graphic design. That will take several months. Create a complicated site for yourself— that’s useful training. Then become a free-lance Web designer. The cost of a start-up business like that is close to zero. But the demand for such services is pretty great. Besides, if you have an idea for your own Web service or site, implement it for free.”
I’d like to believe that the experience these businessmen have shared will make you look at the possibilities for your start-up in a new way. Be bold!