Derek Sivers

Start now. No funding needed.

Watch out when anyone (including you) says they want to do something big, but can’t until they raise money.

It usually means they’re more in love with the idea of being big big big than with actually doing something useful. For an idea to get big big big, it has to be useful. And being useful doesn’t need funding.

If you want to be useful, you can always start now, with only 1% of what you have in your grand vision. It’ll be a humble prototype version of your grand vision, but you’ll be in the game. You’ll be ahead of the rest, because you actually started, while others are waiting for the finish line to magically appear at the starting line.

For example, let’s say you have a vision of making an international chain of enlightened modern schools. You picture it as a huge, world-changing organization, with hundreds of employees, dozens of offices, and expensive technology. But instead of waiting for that, you start by teaching somebody something this week. Find someone who will pay to learn something, meet him anywhere, and begin. It will be nothing but you, a student, and a notebook, but you’ll be in business, and you can grow it from there.

If you want to make a movie recommendation service, start by telling friends to call you for movie recommendations. When you find a movie your friends like, they buy you a drink. Keep track of what you recommended and how your friends liked it, and improve from there.

Want to start a new airline? Next time you’re at the airport when a flight is cancelled, offer to everyone at the gate that you’ll lease a small plane to fly to their destination if they will split the costs. This is how Richard Branson started Virgin Airlines.

Starting small puts 100% of your energy on actually solving real problems for real people. It gives you a stronger foundation to grow from. It eliminates the friction of big infrastructure and gets right to the point. And it will let you change your plan in an instant, as you’re working closely with those first customers telling you what they really need.

Since I had already built a website for my own CD, the first version of cdbaby.com took me only a few days to make, and it did almost nothing. It was a list of a few CDs, each with a [BUY NOW] button. Clicking that would put the CD in your cart and ask for your info. When you entered your info, the site would email it to me.

That’s it. For the first year, that’s all the site did, and that’s all it needed to become profitable.

I spent only $500 to start CD Baby. The first month, I earned back $300. But the second month I made $700, and it’s been profitable every month since.

So no, your idea doesn’t need funding to start. You also don’t need an MBA, a particular big client, a certain person’s endorsement, a lucky break, or any other common excuse not to start.

Anything You Want - book cover