Want to succeed with your startup on a shoestring budget? Is it possible to create a million dollar business starting with less than $1000?
I know it is because I’ve done it several times. In this article I’m gonna share how you can do it and how I did it.
CAVEAT: You can’t do ANY business for less $1000. You certainly can’t open a fancy restaurant for less $1000. However there are many different businesses and startups that you can do for a few hundred dollars that can lead to BIG THINGS.
Here’s 2 breakdowns of 7 figure businesses I started with less than $1000:
Natural Bodybuilding System
The first one was with my good friend and business partner, Wade Lightheart. He had just won the Canadian Natural Bodybuilding Championships. And my marketing mind lit up and I said “Let’s package what you’re doing and sell it.”
Over the next few months, we put our minds together… came up with a hot title “Freaky Big Naturally”. We put together a great system: training program in a binder, 4 CDs and several reports.
I went to work and create a solid sales letter and email sequence.
Then we launched in January 2005. I bought some traffic on Google Adwords and spend $50 on the first day. We had OUR FIRST $97 SALE! We were JACKED! We went on to make over $10,000 that first month. We went on to make over a million dollars in sales in the first 18 months. And the business had its best year ever last year.
Cost of writing the book and reports: $0 (just sweat equity).
Cost of recording the CDs: $0
I already had the recording equipment to do the audio. These days, you can buy good recording equipment CHEAP. For less than $400, you can have a great mic and the software you need to record and mix.
Cost of initial pay per click: $50
Cost of printing the books: $0
DIDN’T MATTER because we printed on demand. In other words, we didn’t print 5000 copies before we knew we could sell it. This lowered the initial costs and the risks substantially.
Cost of hosting: $50
Cost of domain name: $10
Cost of autoresponder: $30
Cost of webmaster to build the webpage: $500
TOTAL COSTS OF LAUNCHING: $640
Lessons From The Bodybuilding Business
- Always have a COST DISCIPLINE MINDSET when you start a new business. The goal is to MINIMIZE RISK AND MAXIMIZE THE ODDS OF SUCCESS.
- Use what you already have to create your prototype. If necessary borrow equipment from friends and family.
- Your marketing and copywriting skills will MAKE OR BREAK YOU. This is one of the most critical skills that you must develop in order to build companies.
- Produce the ABSOLUTELY MINIMUM number of units until you’re SURE it’s a winner. Once you know it’s going to sell, then you crank up production.
Instructional Guitar Business
One of my marketing students was a guitar player. He decided to create a $7 report called “How To Change Your Strings In 7 Minutes”. He put up an ad on Adwords and BOOOOOOM! He got his first sale!
He calls me up and I’m 10X more excited than he was. In his mind, he barely made any money.
In my mind… HE JUST BUSTED HIS CHERRY!
Your first sale is your MOST IMPORTANT SALE EVER. Why? Because it’s PROOF that you can do it. It’s the ultimate belief booster. It’s a confidence cranker. If you do more of what you’ve done, you’ll make MORE sales.
Before your first sale, it’s normal to be drowning in doubt. You’re not sure if you’re on the right track.
After your first sale, it becomes about EXECUTION. How can you scale up? How can you grow what’s working?
Here’s one of my favorite quotes (and mindsets) when you launch a product, from marketing legend John Reese “Today is the worst it’s ever gonna be.”
It’s true… if you start testing different things — your conversion rates are going to go up and up and up over time.
When I launch a project and it’s losing money, but it’s close to breaking even — I’M PUMPED. Why? Because I’m just a couple of marketing split-tests away from having a money machine rolling.
Back to the guitar business story…
After the success of the $7 report, we became partners. I knew he was a good bet because he had done everything I had suggested and he had a burning desire to leave his job.
The guitar business grew slowly the first 3 years. It was making 6 figures a year in revenue, but the overall profitability was low. We kept optimizing and split testing.
Then we started doing $30,000 a month in revenue.
One of the biggest breakthroughs ever happened in Japan. I still remember this like it was yesterday. I created some new crazy looking ads inside of Adwords using a bizarre font called “Sand”. The CTR (click through rate) TRIPLED in Adwords and our overall traffic went up 10X.
Plus… we had a big breakthrough with our offer which increased conversions.
That combination exploded the business. We started making multiple millions a year. And the business is still going strong after 10 years.
Cost of filming the initial product: $500
He went and bought the cheapest video cameras available and a red sheet (used as a backdrop) and filmed one of the UGLIEST INFO PRODUCTS OF ALL TIMES. Thank God the information was good. NOTE: We did reshoot the product professionally later down the line.
Cost of initial pay per click: $100
We were running around break even when we launched. But thanks to our “Today is the worst it will ever be” mindset — it was a winner.
Initial cost of printing the videos: $0
Because we printed on demand. We only started mass duplication once we were making solid sales.
Cost of hosting: $50
Cost of domain name: $10
Cost of autoresponder: $30
Cost of webmaster to build the webpage: $0
My partner was a coder so he built the pages himself. That being said, the cost would of been a few hundred dollars if we would’ve had to pay.
TOTAL COSTS OF LAUNCHING: $690
LESSONS FROM LAUNCHING GUITAR BUSINESS
- If you launch and you’re close to breaking even — IT’S A HUGE WIN.
- “Today is the worst it will ever be” is a beautiful mindset to have when launching any new venture.
- Hang in there… Sometimes it might take you a couple of years to “break on through to the other side”.
- TEST! TEST! TEST! Optimizing your marketing is perhaps the most important habit and skill to develop.
- Don’t be afraid to launch a “minimum viable product”. Once you see that it sells… invest the time, money and energy to transform into a minimum LOVEABLE product.
There are also many other businesses I started that became solid 6 figure businesses with less than $1000 including: personal training, dog walking, skin care and many more.
It’s NEVER BEEN CHEAPER and EASIER to launch a startup
Websites Are Cheap And Easy
Back in the day, most of the websites were built by hand. Now, there are amazing website building tools like: Click Funnels.
They allows you to quickly build websites with ZERO CODING KNOWLEDGE. The costs and the speed of building a website has never been better.
Filming Is Cheap And Easy
People are launching multi million dollar businesses filming with their iPhones. You can go buy a great video camera for less than $500.
The costs and the quality of cameras keeps getting better and better.
You can start with a cheap hosting plan and go up as your website traffic rises. You can get hosting plans for as little as $10 a month with Host Gator.
A tool that you can’t start your business without is a solid autoresponder. It’s one of the most important tools in your marketing.
The great news is, most autoresponders have a FREE LEVEL (under a certain number of leads).
I recommend using Aweber because we’ve split tested Aweber against other providers and they won.
PRO images are CHEAP.
Businesses You Can Start For Less Than $1000
Here’s a list of markets you can enter with less than $1000:
1. Infoproducts/Educational programs
Selling “how to” information is a great business. This is one of the best ways to profit from your passion.
If you’re an expert on training cats, you can create a “How To Turn Your Cat Into A Ninja” product.
If you’re an world-class dart player, you can create a “How To Dominate At Darts” product.
Blogging is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to launch a business.
The blog itself can become a business as it grows. Tim Ferriss’s blog is a multi-million dollar blog and so are many of the other top blogs.
Whether the blog is the “end game” or just a part of your content marketing strategy — it’s a critical piece to have.
Podcasting is another great platform that’s easy to get into.
The podcasts itself can become a money maker once your audience is big enough and you can charge for sponsors.
The podcast can also be a small piece of your overall content marketing strategy.
Becoming a Youtube celebrity has become a VIABLE CAREER.
Many Youtubers make a solid 6 figures a year JUST from their Youtube revenues (not including other revenue sources).
My good friend and business partner, Elliott Hulse is a great example of this. He’s become one of the top fitness celebrities in the world because of Youtube.
Youtube pays you a percentage of the revenue generated from the ads displayed on your videos.
Just like the blog and the podcast, Youtube can be a SMALL PART of your overall content marketing strategy.
5. Writing books
It’s never been easier to become a PUBLISHED AUTHOR.
Virtually anyone can become a published author on Amazon. Amazon is the biggest traffic source in the world for books. Many people (who aren’t famous authors) are making 6 figure incomes from publishing a variety of books on Amazon. Some people publish dozens and dozens of small books — all adding up to a healthy revenue.
6. Drop shipping (someone else’s product)
Another great strategy to get started is to sell someone else’s products and have them ship it for you.
You make the sale, you send them the information and they ship the product for you. You pay them their share and keep the rest.
It’s a good way to get started until you know you have a proven winner.
Multi Level Marketing is another great way to get started if you get behind a GREAT PRODUCT. Beware, there are a lot of inferior, overpriced products in the MLM space. Stay away from those.
Instead choose truly world-class products that are sold via MLM.
Nothing Is “Free”: Pay With Skills Or With Money
Nothing is “FREE” in business. We either pay with SKILLS or with CASH. The best asset to be successful for your startup is MONEY MAKING SKILLS.
None of what I accomplished would of been possible had I not had the marketing and copywriting skills. That’s what allowed me to create profitable marketing funnels.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to build killer copywriting skills — put your name and email in the form below. In September I’m launching “Level 5 Marketing” course that will give you the shortcuts you need to build any business you choose.