8 Steps to Exit the Rat Race
The biggest excuse I hear when someone talks about why they haven’t started a business is, “I don’t have any money. How can I start a business without money?!”
The reason I use the word “excuse” is because that is exactly what it is…an excuse.
Plenty of successful businesses were born out of little-to-no start-up capital. In fact, here’s a list of 50 of them, including Lynda.com, Shopify, Shutterstock, Craigslist, and more.
So, all you really need is some help, and this plan is that help. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to start a business to run full-time or develop a side hustle you can do after hours. Rich Dad developed this plan that will help you build a business without any money.
The good news is that no matter how limited your budget might be, you always have some options in starting a business.
Today I introduce the concept of the B-I Triangle and cover the importance of establishing your mission, establishing yourself as an expert, and building basic systems you need in place in order to be successful.
Let’s get right to the eight steps you need to take before you go any further….
Do you have what it takes?
First, you need to be honest with yourself. The truth is that not everyone has what it takes to be a successful business owner.
To help you decide, I wrote this post with a list of characteristics that successful entrepreneurs possess. Read through the list. If you feel being an entrepreneur is right for you, congratulations! Move on to step two.
Why Do You Want to Start a Business?
My rich dad, my best friend’s dad, taught me everything I know about money and business. The B-I Triangle was one of the greatest lessons he gave me regarding business.
The B-I Triangle shows eight integrities every entrepreneur needs to be successful:
The B-I Triangle as a whole represents a strong system of systems, supported by a team with a leader, all working toward a common mission.
You’ll notice that product is the smallest part of the pyramid. Most people think the product is the most important thing to a successful business, but really it is the last thing you need. If you don’t have the other integrities, it won’t matter how good your product is… you’ll fail.
And the foundation of the B-I Triangle?
Mission. A business without a mission is like a person without a soul. If you start a business without a mission, you’ll bail when the going gets tough. The most successful entrepreneurs start a business because they want to make a difference in the world. Starting a business without money makes staying at it even harder. You’ll need to know your why when it comes to starting a business. You need to establish your mission.
Starting a business can’t only be about making money because there are plenty of joyless ways to make money. It needs to be something that keeps pushing you until your business becomes successful.
Keep Your Day Job
Even though this plan is about starting a business without money, you’ll still need money to survive while you get your business up and running.
One of the key integrities of the B-I Triangle is cash flow. Until your business provides enough cash flow to live, which might take months if not years, having a steady source of income will not only boost your self-confidence but also inspire you to accomplish greater things.
Once you get a job, make a point of saving as much as you can for investing it later. Kim and I did this in the early days of starting our education business. We practiced a philosophy called Pay Yourself First (which drove our bookkeeper, Betty, bonkers!).
If you’re already employed; don’t quit your job just yet. We understand the desire to “be your own boss,” but think twice before you make any major decisions. Only leave your job once you’ve made enough savings that you can use to get your own venture off the ground.
What Type of Business Do You Want to Own?
Back in the 1980s, when I began my journey into entrepreneurship, businesses required lots of start up capital to get off the ground. A product could fail before it even hit the market.
Then came the internet and with it lightening speed access to vendors, consumers, and results. It’s no longer uncommon to get a business running within a day. But what type of business do you want to build?
Once you understand why you want to start a business — your mission — the most important thing you can do is determine what kind of business you want to own.
As I mentioned, the B-I Triangle is about building and investing in systems, not a product. Different types of businesses require different types of systems, unique teams, and different approaches to leadership.
Though the internet changed how businesses start, there are still two main types of business: products and services.
A product business sells a good of some kind that can be sold without using your own time. For instance, Nordstrom sells clothes.
A service business provides a service of some kind that generally means selling time. For instance, a business coach sells consulting.
Eventually, some businesses evolve into a combination of both products and services. At The Rich Dad Company, our mission is to help elevate the financial well-being of humanity. We are primarily a product company, selling education products, but we also provide services like coaching.
Once you know what type of product or service you want to create, you need to determine whether or not there’s a market for it.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is creating a product or service that no one wants.
I’ve seen many businesses fold because there wasn’t a market. Before you do the same, here’s a short list of questions to ask yourself:
- Is your business idea unlike anything else on the market or is it similar to other products or services available?
- If there are already products or services like it, how will you make it better? Can it be made cheaper? Can it be repurposed from its current use? Is there a different market you can sell to?
- Do you think you can pursue this for the long haul?
Thankfully, the internet makes this type of research easy to do. Some simple searches can give you a good idea of the originality of your idea in a couple hours. Some more searches can help you try to find ways to create differentiation, such as searching for a cheaper distributor or reading reviews of a competing product to see ideas for improving it straight from the voice of the customer.
At the end of the day, if you have negative answers to the questions above, it might be best to reconsider your product or service choice relative to your mission.
Do a SWOT analysis
SWOT analysis is a vital technique that can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business idea.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
- Strengths = what you and your business do really well.
- Weaknesses = where you and your business need improvement.
- Opportunities = areas in the market that you can exploit or are best prepared to exploit for growth and achieving your mission.
- Threats = areas in the market or in your business that are a threat to growth and achieving your mission
Running a proper SWOT analysis will give you an honest 360 degree view of your business and where you are best suited for success — and where you are not. Often knowing where you can’t succeed is just as valuable as knowing where you can.
For instance, if you’re starting a business without money, a weakness might be the inability to invest in advertising. It would do no good to try and compete with other brands on the same ad platforms. But a strength could be moving faster and being willing to take more risks, so perhaps a guerilla marketing campaign would be an opportunity.
Become an Industry Expert
Once you have chosen your market and have an idea in mind, it’s important to begin placing yourself in the market as an industry leader. Another way of putting it: you should position yourself as a subject matter expert or SME.
In steps five and six above, it should have become apparent what people’s needs are in your market. Websites like Amazon and Yelp offer great opinions on what’s working and lacking from various products and services.
What can you improve upon? Are there digital products available that aren’t getting rave reviews? Is there a physical product in the market that lacks a personal touch that only you can solve?
It doesn’t matter what type of product (or service) you’re offering, if you want your business to be different from your competition you’ll need to get your voice heard.
The quickest way to do that is by joining online communities that discuss your chosen industry. There are online forums like Reddit and Facebook groups that offer a bevy of topics to choose from, many of them for free. In most cases, you don’t even have to join them.
Simply scroll through them looking for solutions to people’s problems.
By now, you should have a solid understanding of your industry and, more importantly, your own voice within it. Now it’s time to let your voice be heard.
Own Some Digital Real Estate
Two of the B-I Triangle integrities are communication and systems.
Again, it doesn’t matter if you want to sell physical or digital products, or offer one-on-one coaching, eventually you’re going to need somewhere for people to learn about what you offer. You’re going to need a system to communicate about your business to the world—in other words, a website.
Having a website will not only put you in front of thousands of potential customers and investors, but will also attract the opinions of others. This way, you’ll be able to gauge the potential of your business idea.
If you can make it through these eight steps, your well on your way to establishing a successful business.
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily