How to start a business with no money

We’re proud to announce our next online training course with Ed Dale called Starting from Scratch, which teaches you how to start a business with no money. This article gives you our thinking behind it.

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I’ve been in this online industry full time for about two years now and let me tell you one thing – it’s certainly not easy. It takes hours and hours of effort to be successful and so much of it is completely wasted, because you never know which hours are going to pay back.

I talk to a lot of people who are really interested in going it alone either online or in the ‘real world’ and the most common question is always how do you start a business with no money? People either have time or resources available to them and more often than not, it’s just time and very little capital. But that’s OK and it’s certainly not a reason not to start a business.

One of my mentors is a guy called Ed Dale. You may have heard of him – he runs a programme called The Thirty Day Challenge, which teaches you how to make your first $1 online. He is passionate about online marketing but he’s equally as passionate about helping people to start a business with no money. He calls his methodology ‘starting from scratch and has done it himself many times. I’ve enjoyed learning from him because he talks sense.

He has given me (at least) 5 valuable pieces of advice, which I’d like to share with you when it comes to starting from scratch in the online space.

  1. Don’t give up your day job – Giving up the day job with a business plan (a what?!) and a standing start is guaranteed to see your savings disappear quickly. There’s a better way.  Spend the bare minimum on your day job, bring in your salary and then spend every other waking hour preparing foryour next move.
  2. Today’s economic climate can be an advantage – 10 years ago, online marketing was easy. Cost per click was cheap and few people were in the online business. Today it’s much harder to succeed, yet the tools make your life easier if you know how to use them. You just need a laser guided focus and a will to succeed.
  3. You need to build a bank of cash – When you start a business with no money, accept it isn’t going to be straight forward – you need to build a small bank of cash which can then go onto fund the bare essential tools you need to invest in, such as domain names and webhosting. There are a number of strategies for doing this whilst you’re still doing #1.
  4. There is no excuse not to research your market – So many people start their business, create a product and then spend months trying to sell it without ever considering if there’s a market for it. With the Google Keyword tool and other tools such as Market Samurai, there is no excuse not to find out about the market place before you start… again making it so much easier to get the business off the ground without funding.
  5. It’s not for everyone – Accept that when you start a business with no money it’s a huge uphill struggle. Unless you’re passionate about what you do, have the support of your family and friends, then you’re always going to struggle…

If you want to know more about how to start a business with no money, Ed’s course with The 8.45 Club is now live and will teach you how to start from scratch in the online marketing world. Click the link to see the first module for free! It’s a tried and tested philosophy as you’ll see from the two case studies within the course.

Leads and referrals are the lifeblood of a business

I’ve come across a few interesting posts and videos lately which I thought would be interesting to bring together.

I guarantee you that you can always find a new or different way to win new customers if you think / look hard enough.

There’s some great advice in the links below:

Why you aren’t getting new business referrals – from the Marketing Profs folks – people I admire from afar

B2B lead generation video – I interview Lindsay Willott, an ex-boss and the founder of The Marketing Practice

The art of getting a business referral from Flying Solo – colleagues in Australia

Understanding business development from one of my favourite authors, Seth Godin

The lead generation handbook – a pdf I read a couple of years ago which still holds true today

Here’s a suggestion, pick something new and try it today. What’s the worst that can happen?

What I’ve learnt about Twitter after 1,000 Tweets.

Today is quite the momentous occasion… my 1000th Tweet after a year or so of taking Twitter seriously. I felt that this particular Tweet needed to be profound (everything’s relative) – and so I’ve decided to use it to refer to this post and write a few words about what I’ve learnt from this bizarre social media application and explain why I use it and what it’s actually done for me.

Maybe my wife, parents, friends and anyone else who just ‘doesn’t get it it’ will have a little more of a clue as to what it’s all about if they get round to reading this.

  1. Like every tool ever invented – how you use Twitter will change what you get from it.
  2. Like every tool ever invented – it’s your choice as to how you use it.
  3. Some people use Twitter for talking about what they had for breakfast. That’s fine. I don’t, because it’s not going to further me or anyone else in a business sense and that’s my primary reason for using the tool. Your reason maybe different and that’s fine.
  4. I use Twitter to further myself (and I hope others) in business. Business however can be made up of many different things.
  5. Entertainment, education, friendship, humour and knowledge transfer have all been essential parts of my 1000 tweets.
  6. As of the time of writing I’ve 245 followers (thank you). I only follow 40 people. I only follow people I’m interested in understanding or hearing more from.
  7. I’ve had people complain I don’t follow them or hassle me to follow them. Guess what – that’s not the way to do it people.
  8. Part of the reason I use Twitter is for ‘legal stalking’. It’s not as sinister as it sounds. If I want to do business with someone, I follow them. If I am doing business with someone I follow them.
  9. Who wouldn’t want to get closer to a prospect or a customer to find out what they are thinking? What’s the perfect way to understand what makes them tick and to find out what they are interested in? Following them of course.
  10. I like communicating with people – I can’t help myself. If I find out something I think might be of interest to someone, I will share it with them. I used to do this using newspaper clippings (I still do). Twitter makes this a much easier process.
  11. I like the fact I have virtual colleagues in Tasmania, Australia (hi @michellef) I also like the fact I’ve met them in real life too.
  12. I like the fact I get to hear about the latest things happening in the world of WordPress (@woothemes) and get discounts off the latest themes.
  13. I like the fact that I won a signed set of books from one of my favourite business authors (@dmscott)
  14. 11,12 and 13 I did on Twitter in the last week and no point did I tell anyone what I had for breakfast, nor did they tell me.
  15. I admit I have Tweetdeck open on one of my screens for most of the day (unless I’m focusing on getting stuff done, in which case I switch it off). That’s not a good thing – it should be turned on at certain times of the day and I’m working on my addiction there.
  16. I happily paid $2.99 for Twittelator on my iPhone and use it every day (thanks @ed_dale). Why wouldn’t you absorb yourself in other people’s wisdom whilst sitting on a train/standing in a supermarket/waiting for your wife to try on clothes eh @ed?)
  17. Do I still interact with real live human beings? Yes of course I do. Do I also benefit massively most days from other people’s wisdom via Twitter? Yes definitely.
  18. Do other people benefit from my twittering? I’d hope so.
  19. Would I ever follow hundreds or thousands of people – no… following others to get followers makes very little sense in my book. I’d prefer people to follow me who are interested in what I have to bang on about.
  20. Do I recommend every person in business to at least consider using Twitter as a tool – yes I do. Is it right for everyone? No…
  21. I try to make Tweets less than 110 characters to allow easy retweeting.
  22. I like occasional random conversations with people I don’t know – it adds to the rich tapestry of life. #bbcquestiontime is a great example.
  23. Be interesting and others will be interested in you. Isn’t that right @lesleyeverett?
  24. So how will I change my use of Twitter over the next 1000 tweets? I need to turn off Tweetdeck more. It is distracting, and I need no help in that department. I want to get better at explaining the phenomenon in a simple way to people who don’t get it so that they can benefit too. I also want to find more interesting, relevant people in my niches and sphere of interest to follow to get even more tuned into my markets. That’s hard to do, so I need to listen even harder.

There. I’d like to think I’ve made the most of my 1000th tweet. But maybe you disagree…. comments are open below.

Windows Double Explorer review

It’s been a while since we’ve raved about a piece of software, however this one could not go without a post… Our Windows Double Explorer review is below…

Windows users will know that the file manager, windows explorer, file explorer (everyone calls it something different) is never where you want it to be… and when you find it – moving and copying files and scrolling up and down the structure is somehow always harder than it should be.

There are a few paid for solutions out there – however this one is free and works a treat. It’s also incredibly ‘lite’. What I mean by that is that it’s not a huge download and doesn’t chew up system resources. It actually uses the same windows explorer application, but replicates it:

As you can see – it creates two windows for the price of one. I’ve tiled mine horizontally – and the only gripe I’ve got is that it won’t remember your tiling settings – however it’s a small price to pay. Imagine how easy it is to now drag files between windows… Life is simple again.

Download Windows double explorer here.

It costs nothing to be creative

I don’t know about you, but I seem to be more attuned than ever to watching how advertisers and marketers are getting their messages across to audiences which are more and more discerning. These audiences are bombarded from the moment they wake to the moment their heads hit the pillow. I wouldn’t be surprised if in years to come someone figures out rate cards for dream-advertising and we all go to bed wearing some kind of skull cap attached to the mains.

Anyway, I digress.

My iPhone doesn’t leave my side and I find myself being pointed at a lot, whilst I take photos of random interesting things in order to share them with others.

I love it when advertisers put a smile on my face. Does it really cost anything to think laterally and get people to talk about your advertising? This is such a cool example by a favourite brand of mine. Poking fun at themselves and at the same time delivering a great message about a new product just launching…

When was the last time you thought outside the box and got creative? Go on – you know you want to…

Being Smarter moves up a gear

The first couple of months of 2010 have flown by. Being Smarter is delighted to announce five new clients since Xmas, a Spanish organisation, two companies in the FTSE 250, a new content partner here in the UK and one in Australia.

After a successful trip to Sydney and Melbourne last month, our partnership with Ed Dale, one of the world’s most prominent Internet Marketers goes from strength to strength as we launch the second of five courses next week under the Ed-ucationonline.com brand. If you’ve always wanted to know how to ‘Start from scratch’ in the Internet marketing space – watch out for 11 modules of pure delight from next week.

Our partnership with Kaplan Eduneering continues to grow, with another new course addressing local US government going live at the end of April.

Targets to Prospects, a service we developed by popular request, after we used it to target individuals successfully for a year was launched in January, and we’ve successfully delivered five installations in the last month. We’ll let you know the results from these first customers very soon. We’ve also added new functionality which we’re rather proud of…

Innovation continues too as we’ve also successfully delivered a ‘personalised video‘ project for one of the clients above… Imagine a video which appears to be built uniquely for a company or individual? Imagine watching a story unfold and seeing your logo / name / statement appear within it, seamlessly… you’d be impressed wouldn’t you? Well imagine no longer. Next time you want to run a campaign targeting a known group of targets, why not consider Targets to Prospects?

Exciting times – with more to come we hope.

Marketing plans aren’t rocket science

We’re delighted to welcome another guest blogger to the Being Smarter stable. Maria Sadler runs The Small Marketing Company and has set herself up (quite uniquely) as a Social Media manager for people who know they should… but don’t have the time.

Maria’s first thoughts for Being Smarter are below…

You don’t need to throw large sums of money at advertising and PR to get started you just need to be a bit savvy. So here are some tips to get you started.

1) Think about your targets first

This may sound obvious but if you start to really hone in on who your ideal customer is, you can start to identify where they ‘hang out’. For example if your business benefits mothers with school age children you could target PTAs and school newsletters. If your business or service would be of interest to local businesses, check out the local Chamber of Commerce and local networking groups.

Now you know who your targets are and where you might find them, you need to consider how to attract their attention. If you are targeting a busy professional who will no doubt receive countless emails per day you need to grab their attention fast by being brief, different and a little intriguing.

These are probably the ideal people to send an eye catching but short email – Targets to Prospects software is perfect for this – or consider approaching them via Twitter, where you get 140 characters to grab attention.

2) Now think about your message

Once you understand your customer, you can then start to craft your message to make sure you get their attention. Work out what problems and issues they face and then think how your product or service could help resolve them. You may be desperate to tell them about a great new feature of your product but guess what, your potential customer won’t care.

Try the ‘so what’ test. So what benefit does that feature give the customer, focus on the feature that gives the greatest benefits, and think about the problems your customer has that you can alleviate.

3) Differentiate yourself from the competition

Whilst price is always a factor, at the moment is isn’t always the decider. So you need to determine what is different/better about your service above the competition. Here is one of the places that being ‘visible’ and something of an authority on a subject can be of great advantage, and this is where an online presence comes in.

Think about when you are looking for a product or service – what is the first thing you do? If you are like most people, you will go to Google and do a search for the type of product or service you need. If your name or company name keeps appearing on websites, blogs, articles, Twitter and other social media, discussing that very thing – the potential customer will begin to believe in your credibility.

4) Get your customers to blow your trumpet

Once you start to sell your product or service, ask your customers if they could give you feedback – you can then start to use this on your marketing materials as proof that you deliver. This will also become a very useful source of information on how you can improve your product in the future and what new products you could add to expand your offering. Finally it shows your customers that you care about what they think, and want to provide the best customer service.

Maria Sadler runs The Small Marketing Company which specialises in online marketing using Social Media. Follow her at www.twitter.com/mfsadler