HOW TO SET UP A STARTUP HAVING ONLY SEVERAL HUNDRED ZLOTYS?

WHAT WILL YOU FIND OUT FROM THIS ENTRY?

  • Is passion essential when setting up a business?
  • What is necessary to make even the most clichéd idea profitable?
  • How did I start my first business in England spending about 100 zl on it?
  • How can you earn millions of zlotys on a blog?
  • How is it possible that teaching people Excel can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars in income?

Until now, I have been writing about the  general rules of startups – about scalable business model, about  inventing  something that has never existed before, about  creating something which motivates you  to work.

However,  starting your first activity you :

  • may not have money or you may  not want to risk too much of it
  • may not have experience in choosing ideas which can change the world or you may not have a will and ambitions to create such things

Nowadays in my company, I deal with things which need more investment but it was completely different at the very beginning.

In this entry I’ll write about some ideas for setting up a business without the need for large investments or high risk.

I’ll begin with the passion, that I have written about  a few times. Hearing that in business it’s worth doing something which we are passionate about, we start edgily thinking „What is my passion?”, „Do I have any passion at all?”, „Gosh, I have no passion, I will never have any nice business”.

I think that Terri Trespicio sums up such doubts very well in his TEDx speech:

Terri says that:

  • It is said that we have to find this one  passion which will accompany us for the rest of our life – when we find it, everything will work out well
  • If we don’t find it – nothing will work out

This puts a great pressure on us – we finish the university and what next? We can do so many things but there’s emptiness in our head – where is my passion? What am I supposed to do next?

I really liked the ending of this presentation – passion isn’t  a work ,a  sport, or a hobby. Passion is your full commitment and energy that you put into what you are currently doing. If you are so busy looking for  passion, you can miss opportunities which can change your life.

And it’s completely normal that I don’t know what I’ll be doing in 5 years, or  even in  half  a year. The deepest relations and the most fulfilling jobs are the ones which can still surprise you. If you sit around and wait for passion, you’re wasting your time. The greatest successes are achieved when you start working and somebody wants to pay you for what you do – passion will follow you.

Then how to start? I think that the whole sense of business is shown in one formula:

passion or skill + usefulness = success

In other words – do something which primarily solves other people’s problem and at the same time brings you pleasure.

If your effort meets somebody’s need,  then we’ve got a business. So first – look for problems that you face on  daily basis. What do your friends complain about?

It sounds banal and I suppose it will be better to expand  it by showing examples. As it appears, the more boring the business  idea, the bigger the chance of success.

I’ll start with my story. In 2014 I accidentally found an ad on facebook  from a man who was looking for partners for his new business idea. We met and  so formed our team that  consisted of three Poznań inhabitants and one German living in England. The business idea was very simple – sending advertising materials produced in Poland to English companies. Selling in England is more profitable because of higher prices. And flights to England are very cheap because of cheap airlines.

We needed:

  • a company and a bank account in England,
  • a contract with a producer in Poland, from whom we will later send products to England,
  • a website,
  • an offer on a website – photos + descriptions of the products

We managed to go through the first stage (and managed to get a legal address of our company) thanks to our partner living in England. He also set up a bank account there. Tomek – the man who started the whole project – took care of signing a contract with a Polish producer. This was a win-win-win situation. The producer earns extra money  selling his products in England, we earn money thanks to the margin, and customers in England are happy with the  bought products. I took care of the third stage – I had IT experience so there were no problems with that. Stage four was partly realized by the producer who had photos and descriptions of his products – we only translated them into English. And this is how AdItems was created:

We eventually took care of  other things and stopped this business (the domain of our shop soon expired: aditems.co.uk). But this example shows that four complete strangers can start a business practically without investing.

How much did it cost us? We paid for the  flight of two people to England, the  webpage template,  the meetings in cafés, and of course we invested our time. But this example shows, however,  that you can set up any business  practically without investing any money into it.

Maybe this activity isn’t very sophisticated, but often  the less complicated the idea, the better. What is the most important is to find a problem that you can solve. The more people  face it, the better.

I am delighted to see Michał Szafrański’s success, the success of a man who runs the blog: www.jakoszczedzacpieniadze.pl. Michał started in 2012 without any knowledge of blogging, positioning,  even without an idea how he could earn anything on that. He came across a YouTube video which showed how to set up a blog on WordPress in 4 minutes.

As he writes about himself, he is a person who scrupulously writes down all his expenses and income. He decided to write about it on his blog. He wanted to check if and how it develops.

It turned out that there’re lots of people in Poland who need help in managing their budget. This is the subject that  people often don’t cope with, they get into  debts, live from hand to mouth. Michał was accurately describing how he copes with it, also publishing information about his income and household expenses.

Would you believe me if I told you that in those couple of years he earned millions of zlotys on his blog? Believe it or not – it’s true. Michał achieved great results just by helping people  solve their problem – managing their expenses. Within that time, his blog was  visited by more and more people, and ideas for making money online came without effort. Starting from ads, through affiliative links (so e.g. recommending particular bank deposit for what Michał got part of the money), courses on money management and  getting  out of debt, to the book which brought him several millions of proceeds. And he published it on his own.

Of course this doesn’t mean that achieving success was simple. Quite the opposite – I suppose that he worked really, really hard. But firstly, he liked that, and secondly, he noticed that people needed it.

Nowadays, we can get to millions (or even billions) of people directly from our house thanks to the Internet. Two weeks ago I came across Arlena Witt’s channel. Arlena publishes videos on YouTube  in which she explains how to correctly pronounce English words, e.g Holland and Poland.

Look at the number of views she has. Nowadays, the majority of young people knows English, we’ve got lots of people who graduated from philology.  The skills are important, but the strength lies in putting them to use.

Another story comes from the book called „The $100 Startup” written by Chris Guillebeau. Purna Duggirala helps people to… be masters of Microsoft Excel 🙂. It doesn’t sound encouragingly, does it? When the book was  written, Purna got a total income of 136 thousand dollars for the previous year. Purna comes from India but decided to offer his services all around the world – he runs a blog in English: http://chandoo.org/wp/welcome/. The website looks as if it was set up 10 years ago – and it was. However,  the looks is not  the most important thing there. What counts is  the knowledge that he  shares regularly. Beside  the entries on the blog, he also offers handbooks and courses. He speaks of what he does: „Our training programs make customers a hero in front of their bosses or colleagues”. If learning Excel can be sexy, then I think that in every business we can find a way to reach people.

These couple of ideas that I showed above won’t necessarily make the world change completely. In this entry, however, I did not mean to give  an easy way for a revolutionary business. But these examples show that you can set up a business without loads of money and experience – and they can eventually bring huge income. Of course you always have to put lots of effort into your work, even if it looks very simple from the outside.

 

Graduated from Poznań University of Technology. For the last seven years he was engaged in scientific projects at Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Center. Founder of Grinfinity, Expansio and Lexpansio startups. Alumni of TOP 500 Innovators programme. In 2011 Intern at Notre Dame University (USA, Indiana). Privately happy husband, dancing contemporary dance.