Saturday, June 9, 2007

Starting with Nothing

If you wait until you have enough money to start a business, you never will. One of the most common misconceptions about starting a business is that if you don’t have enough money behind you; you will fail. The truth is that with any startup it is far better to be broke. Being broke immediately gives you a truly tremendous advantage. It makes you think for yourself. By giving your startup the advantage of being broke will also make you work that much harder to make it succeed. One might say truthfully that the sinews of war aren’t gold; they are effort.

If you don’t think that starting a business is like starting a war you should read the 6th Century BC book by the Chinese General Sun Tzu; The Art of War. The lessons given in this book are ageless, and apply to making war or equally starting a business. During the Gulf War in 1991 Norman Schwarzkopf and his generals used Sun Tzu’s book to plan the Hail Mary Run that outflanked the Iraqi’s. It is also fodder for many of the military academies around the world. A translation of this book can be found on the internet. Read it before you start anything!

Another very good book you should read is “The Prince” by Nicolo Machiavelli. This book was bedside reading for two of the greatest tyrants of the twentieth century: Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin. This is a fifteenth century treatise on political science, and although it was written over 500 years ago its message is also timeless. Its real message is that it will tell you about human nature, and that hasn’t changed for thousands of years.

Now that I have armed you with two of the greatest treatises in warfare, or business, now is the time to form your own business. First things first though you should have immersed yourself in the lessons of these two books. Write down on paper exactly what you intend to do. This is also very important because it focuses your thoughts on the business, and when your thoughts stray as they will; you always have a reference point to go back too.

Starting a business is like getting married. You do it when you are prepared, not when you are ready. In the same vein you should have a woman who is also committed to your plans. If you don’t, God help you. The relationship between man and woman has smashed empires let alone businesses.

About starting with no money, well you get up in the morning don’t you?

Just remember that capital is wealth, it isn’t necessarily money. The things you already have will be enough to start with; the rest will come to you with time anyway. A very wise man once said, “Money is worth a nickel a bushel.”

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