“I Can’t Afford To Do It”… Is this reason holding you back from your online course creation? If so, this article is for you….
I work with many aspiring edupreneurs every week. All of them have great ideas and an abundance of talent that they could serve with and profit from.
When I ask them why they haven’t started yet, a common response is ‘I can’t afford to’. It never fails to astound me that so many people think that they need to have to have an investor, or access to life savings to start a business. That’s absolute, complete and utter baloney.
Of course it helps to have money, I’m not denying that it definitely makes the process easier, but I can categorically assure you that you don’t NEED it to get started.
This is yet another procrastination or fear-based tactic that your body is using to hold you back from your greatness.
The first reaction I get from many at this stage is ‘yes but Sarah, it’s alright for you to say that, you’ve got money’. True. But i didn’t start out with any.
In early March 2012, I landed in Western Australia with a 25 kg suitcase, a belly full of fear and excitement, and absolutely nothing else. Originally from the UK, and not knowing at that stage that you could sell a business, I’d quite literally shut down shop, packed up my stuff and got on a plane leaving everything I’d built behind me. (Yes it still hurts knowing that I could have sold it for quite a lot of money!). I stood outside the arrivals doors with my suitcase at Perth international airport, with the hot late summer air blowing through my hair, succumbing to the sudden realisation that I was quite literally broke, alone and homeless.
I knew absolutely nobody. I didn’t know how business in Australia went, and I definitely didn’t have any cash behind me. I had no phone, no laptop, no job, nowhere to live, and no idea what the hell I was going to do. I didn’t have a bed to sleep on, let alone any money in my pocket to buy one.
Yet after just 18 months of rocking up frightened and penniless, I had a business valued at millions of dollars.
Three years earlier, I had been in precisely the same position in Malta. On a whim, I had randomly packed up my life in the UK after a breakup. When I arrived in Malta, I was still extremely inexperienced in the world of business (especially in a foreign country that spoke a different language). And yet within two months I had a contract with the European Government, a national bank, an international top-end hotel chain and several national retail outlets. My starting budget? Nothing.
You already have everything that you need
I don’t have any magic trick to pull out of my hat for you.
No secret formula, no super-powers of any kind. I’m an everyday person with a hole in my butt just like you.
The difference between me and those who don’t ever get started, let alone succeed, is that I know that if I want to have something, then I must go and get it for myself – not wait around for someone to give it to me.
I know that building a business with no money, contacts or internet connection is tough, but I also know that using that as an excuse to never realise my dreams will ultimately be tougher.
Everything I have today in my profession and in business came from mastering how to create something from nothing – and deliberately taking strategic action every day to go and get it.
If you have a bed, an internet connection and a mobile phone, you are already a million miles ahead of where i was when I started in Australia, and you’ve got everything you need.
What to do
In order to earn money, you need customers.
To get customers, they have to know that you exist.
The ONLY thing you need to show someone that you exist, is yourself. Your body, your voice and your smile. That’s free.
Go to the local library – the internet, books, computers and often the odd page of printing is free.
Go to your local Chamber of Commerce and Industry, they often have free business training, consulting, legal and advisory services.
Search online for events, conferences, network meetings, seminars, workshops and expos in your subject niche and attend all of them that are free – the majority of them are. This is the best opportunity to grow your network.
You don’t need fancy business cards with professionally designed logos on them. You just need yourself. People don’t buy services based on a business card, they buy them based on the person who is selling the service.
In the first week of arriving in Australia, I knew that if I didn’t get a client ASAP, i was going to very rapidly starve to death. And no, i’m not being dramatic, i was homeless and I had nothing to eat. I knew that it was critical to my survival to start letting people know that I exist, to start sharing with them how I can help them and what i can do for them to help them reach their goals and objectives. I walked around every free event i could get myself to. I ‘acquired’ a push bike (ok, I stole it from a verge collection) and i pushed my little legs along the freeway in the searing Australian heat to get myself to events that I knew were going to be packed with my target audience. Nothing was going to stop me getting a meal that week.
I didn’t have business cards, I didn’t have a logo, I didn’t have a website, I hadn’t even registered my business yet. But i had everything I needed. Myself, my voice and my passion for what I did.
I collected business cards, i went back to the library the next day, i sent out emails thanking people for their lovely conversations and i offered them my services. After 2 weeks, I had met and collected the cards of over 300 people. Within 3 months I had a 6 figure contract and had to hire 9 people to see it through.
I wrote to the conference organisers and offered to speak for free. Within a couple of months I was speaking on major stages to hundreds of people at a time, many of whom queued up afterwards to speak with me and invite me to consult their organisation – being on a stage gives you instant cred – and customers.
Soon enough I was getting referrals left, right and centre, I didn’t even need to look for business anymore.
As soon as i got my first client, I used the income to pay for a website; my second contract bought my business cards, my third bought my laptop; and so it continued, until i was firmly established and operating like any other business does with 23 staff.
Even to this day, i find that the ‘free’ lead generation activities are my most profitable. I have spent only pennies on paid advertising. ALL of my traffic and work comes from doing things that anyone and everyone can do right now with an internet connection, determination and a belly full of guts.
ANYONE who tells me that they can’t get started because of money is making excuses, it’s that simple.
If you need to film videos but don’t have filming gear, see if another course creator lives close to you and might lend you theirs. If not, do your filming from your mobile phone. Done is better than not done, even if it’s not ‘perfect’.
If you don’t have a phone, ask a friend if you can borrow theirs to record your videos. If you don’t have any friends, ask a stranger. You’ll be amazed at what people will help you out with. When I finally got myself somewhere to live in Australia, my next door neighbours let me go into their house every single day to use their computer and do my washing. They even let me borrow cutlery and a kettle from their camper van until I could afford to get myself together. Ask for help, put a call out on Facebook, hustle, innovate, get creative, look for free services in your local area and offer to swap your services or plain elbow grease in return for a service you need. I still to this day swap services for services with people.
The old adage ‘where there is a will, there is a way’ couldn’t be more true in my mind.
There are endless free tools, apps and platforms out there that can help you build your business without the need to spend a single cent.
Go to Udemy.com and find free courses and use YouTube to learn new skills so that you can do tasks yourself instead of paying someone else to do it.
You can build a website in 2 hours for free these days.
You can design your own logos and business cards for free.
You can host your online courses on marketplaces and LMSs for free, you can share your content in every single imaginable way for free.
You can build an audience for free, you can get published in books, blogs and magazines for free, you can appear in podcasts for free.
The list goes on and on.
In today’s world of resources, you have absolutely no excuse for not getting your edupreneurial business off of the ground.
You already have ALL of the resources that you need to do what you want to do and get your message out to the world.
No money? No problem. You don’t need any.