How to Start A Business When You’re Flat Broke

How to Start A Business When You’re Flat Broke


The rules are very different when you’re broke. Especially if you’re broke and you have responsibilities at home i.e. you have a child, spouse, house or car that you cannot afford to lose.

But it’s not so hard: Here’s how to start a business when all odds are stacked against you.

1. Don’t find a product first – find a group of people with a need that is not fulfilled

Remember you have only one silver bullet. You can’t afford to invest in some creative idea or creative product only to find that people don’t want it.

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Rather focus on discovering a need that people are experiencing right now, which is not fulfilled. 

2. Tailor a solution for that need

There’s a saying, “You can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame.” Sometimes experiencing a need or a problem prevents people from seeing the solution right under their noses. Therefore finding a solution for other people may be easier for you if you’re not also experiencing the problem.

3. Get your first customer

Sometimes you may need money to settle debts or cover urgent expenses. Therefore finding that first customer can seem like a daunting task. Just remember: The chicken fills its stomach, one corn seed at a time. Go out and find the first customer.

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4. Learn from your first customer


The value of finding your first customer is in discovering “objections” i.e. reasons why people don’t want to buy from you. These are mostly perceptual than real. i.e. they don’t trust you; they don’t’ trust your solution will work; or they don’t trust themselves to be able to use your solution effectively.

Either way the more you spend time with customers, the more you’ll figure out what’s preventing them from becoming paying customers.

5. Clone yourself, build a system

Once you’ve learned how to acquire customers, create a system for finding customers. For example, instead of going door-to-door to find customers, rather send a letter to all your prospects and in that letter have the same discussion you would have with them if you were there in person.

6. Fire yourself

Don’t get caught up in doing everything yourself. Fire yourself as quickly as possible. Hire people or outsource to companies that are far more efficient and effective at delivering than you. Your job is to focus on fine-tuning (step 5)… your marketing system. 

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The biggest mistake you could ever make in starting a business (especially when you’re under financial stress) is building a product first without confirming that people need it. Spend 90% of your time on step 1 before you move to the other steps.

One more thing. Very important!

Remember to stay away from negative people. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself in a positive mental state.

Vusi Sindane
Vusi Sindane is a software engineer (12 yrs) and an entrepreneur with the goal of building the first post-94 city by 2024. He started his first business at 14 years of age, selling airtime at school via an innovative technology called SMS (back then). Today he leads companies such as donebyEXPERTS and and spends most of his time writing and conducting workshops to share knowledge on marketing psychology on his personal website.