Is it even possible for you to start a business in school without having any money?
This has been the worry of many students and if you are reading this I guess it has also been worrying for a while now. Don’t worry, I have some secrets to share with you.
With the secrets I am going to share with you today, I was able to start two different businesses in school without having any form of capital at all. From these businesses, I made enough money to feed myself and foot some of my bills as a student.
So, the answer to the question that you have been searching for is a big yes. It is very possible for you to start a business in school whiles not having any money to invest in.
I will share the story of how I started one of the two businesses and outline how you can also replicate that model for any other kind of business you want to start in school.
The story that I want to share with you here is “how I started a book-selling business in school without any initial investment”.
Yes, I started a book-selling business in school and made a substantial profit from it. One main reason why it was successful is the fact that students like reading or are required to read and so there was a ready market for the business.
However, the secret is in how I got started. I was in class reading a book titled “Think like an entrepreneur, act like a CEO” when a colleague of mine commented on the book. According to her, the book would be an interesting one to read.
Right after hearing that, my entrepreneurial mind went to work fast. I needed to make her an offer and see if she will be ready to pay for it. I told her about how awesome the book was and all the enlightening stuff I was discovering from the book.
I saw her lean into the conversation showing her interest and that was when I gave her the pitch. “In fact, I am selling the book, care to get a copy?” – I asked and she gave an affirmative response. Unfortunately, that was my personal copy which had my name boldly written in it. I then added that this copy was mine and I will bring her a new copy the day after, she consented and paid the money.
I made my first sale even before I had thought about starting a business from selling books. My mind wouldn’t let me rest after that incident. “If one person was willing to pay me to go get her a book, what was the likelihood of several other people also willing to do the same?” I starting thinking about it.
Finally, I concluded to give it a try and see how many other people will be willing to pay me to get them that specific book. At least that was what I planned. I took a sheet of paper around my class during break time and informed every one of my colleagues about the book that I was selling.
I did very well to convince most of them about how important the book was and I got a few names down (those who were interested in the book). What struck me was that people started requesting other books. I, therefore, switched the plan up to sell any book you want.
The sales message also changed, I spoke to people and found out what they loved to read and made an offer related to it. I usually made the message opened, so that those who already had some book titles in mind could go ahead and request for them.
The challenge I faced then was that I didn’t know the price of most of the books people were requesting for. I just recorded the title of the books and the people requesting them with a promise to get them the book by the following morning.
Mind you, I had been a fan of reading and hence knew all the spots on campus where I could purchase these books. In fact, I knew the places where I could get them at a cheaper cost.
Right after class that day, I went straight to the place and showed the bookkeeper the list that I had. I got most of the books. It was left for me to negotiate with the bookkeeper so as to get some profit for myself.
I made him aware, that this was just the beginning and that I was going to be coming back often to come back with more orders. He, therefore, agreed to give the books to me at the wholesale price. As such, I didn’t even need to add a penny to it because I could sell the books at the same price as the man was selling them and still make a profit on it.
That is the genesis of the whole story, but now you know it is possible to start a business in school without any money. In your case, you can also replicate this model I used and end up setting up your own business.
Let me explain the model and how you can make use of it for your own unique case.
1. Identify pain points of your colleagues
I call it pain points, others call it problems but however it is called, the start of this journey is to identify what you can help people with.
The reason why I prefer to call it pain points and not problems is that not everyone finds a problem but there is always something that will be of help to others.
In business, people will be willing to give you money for at least one of these:
- Something that saves them money or gives them more money
- Something that saves them time
- Something that makes other things more convenient for them
In my example of selling to my classmates, I was offering them convenience. Instead of them walking to the place to get it by themselves which may not be convenient because some people live far away from where the books are sold.
So whatever you find that you want to sell make sure you are selling money, time, or convenience as explained above.
2. Look for a possible solution
After identifying the pain points, the next thing you would have to work on will be to identify a possible solution to the pain points. Look out for all the possible solutions and determine the feasibility of such solutions without having an initial capital.
For instance, if a particular solution involves you going to purchase a particular gadget that far exceeds your budget before you can start your business then that will be considered as not feasible.
This is why it is important to consider all possible solutions that may be available and look out for how feasible it is. Since you want to start a business with no money, you would have to look for an option that doesn’t require you to invest any initial capital.
3. Talk to your potential customers
When it comes to running a business, you can never do it without customers. Therefore you can’t have a business if you don’t have customers. You see how I started my business based on people’s requests.
Don’t make the mistake of starting the business before looking for who will come and patronize your services or products.
Talk to the very people who have the pain points for which you have identified solutions. Find out if they are interested in the solution you are proposing.
4. Look for a supplier
After you have identified your solution and gotten people who are willing to patronize your services, then you need to get a supplier.
The kind of supplier will depend on what your proposed solution is. You have to look for at least two potential suppliers.
Find out how much each supplier is willing to charge and negotiate with them so as to get more profits. To be a successful business owner, you have to be very good at negotiating.
5. Supply your first orders
Talk to your customers and take their orders. Convince them to pay some money upfront and make sure you are talking to serious people. After they place the order, do well to get them whatever they requested as soon as possible.
In such a business, you need to be trustworthy because if people cannot trust you, they won’t give you money until you have provided them with the service or products requested.
In the event, where your customers do not have the money with them on that particular day, you can do one of two things;
- Talk to the supplier and convince him/her to give you the products on credit with a promise to pay back as soon as you get settled by your customers.
- Talk to some of your friends or family members who may be able to loan you some money. Use that money to go buy the products and settle them as soon as you get the products to your customers.
6. Time to scale your business model
Now, you have an active business generating income. The profit you make should not be spent anyhow. The best thing to do is to re-invest the profit you make into your new business to help you grow your business.
What I did with most of the profit I made from selling books was to buy more books especially ones that I had read myself. I chose those ones because I could easily convince people to buy them.