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Advice For The Entrepreneur - Where To Begin
by Martin Thomas

One of my associates once asked me "if you had your wallet taken away from you and you were dropped out of the sky into a strange city with nothing but the shirt on your back, what would you do and how long would it take to get financially established?"

I liked the challenge of the idea and thought long and hard about the answer. To be honest, I can essentially say the difficulty would be overcome by time but it would not be insurmountable within say in under 6 months. I believe for the sake of the exercise, you would define "financially established" as say $100,000. With this amount you could properly begin to utilize leverage through other people's money and take loans for real estate. This is where the real compounding would begin.

Within another 6 months I would have $1 million give or take, or at least be definitely on my way to a million. It's this first $100,000 that would be the real challenge. With experience you know exactly what you would do. If you hadn't done anything like it before, (make $100,000 in 6 months) then you may find it more of a challenge.

The biggest challenge in this situation would be not having intimate knowledge and experience in this hypothetical city. Knowing what's available and where to find the things you need is a big obstacle that it takes time to establish contacts and takes time to accumulate the experiences you need to drive that business to a point where you are taking real profits.

So, broke, no money, no contacts and nowhere to live. The first thing I would do even before I found a place to live is to find some easily accessible retail markets. Of course without a single dime to my name, I would be forced to avoid commercial rental premises. What I mean is find places where crowds gather. Fairs, trash and treasure markets, pavilions, I would take note of anywhere that people congregate en mass for recreational or consumer purposes as long as it was open air and was accessible to me without needing to pay for the exposure.

Without a single dime to my name, I would be forced to start at the very bottom. I would have to offer some sort of impulse service. I am working on establishing a seed capital account of around $500 and will have to do what it takes to get to this point. It would depend on your own personal skills and personality. I could find an old crate and borrow a black marker to make a sign and give neck and shoulder rubs for $10 for 15 minutes. Maybe I could busk as a humourist and make a large racket and get a crowd to gather. It would really depend on the circumstances I find what I would do here, but I would have to be restricted to offering some sort of service that people will be readily willing to pay for.

I would probably have to spend a few nights sleeping out in the cold, so I can preserve my seed capital but once I had $500 I could begin my entrepreneurial activities and compound my seed capital. I would work on sending out the whole $500 out on a daily basis to work for me. Working on a mark up of say 30% I could compound that into $5000 within say 2 weeks.

To make the money work for me, I would become a middle man (my favourite place to be) I would seek out retailers and wholesalers and make deals. Whether it's fresh fish or leather hand bags or a mixture of both (fish leather handbags?) it makes no difference, the only goal here is to make a minimum profit of 30% or more. I am sure I would experience some windfalls here or there where I have 100% days but I wouldn't count on them.

Once I had a network established, I would hire some reliable labour to continue with pick ups and deliveries, while I began to scout around for investment objects and start investing in high demand small ticket items. Cars, boats, etc. Items that will offer a quick turn over.

Real estate is my ultimate goal, but I think over time I could quite confidently move towards that goal and get to the point where finance was possible and real estate investment was the next step.