Thoughts About Starting a Business With No Money

I Taught Myself to Knit

Years ago, I taught myself to knit by buying a book called How to Knit The Right Way. I bought knitting needles and yarn and learned to knit and purl. I made a scarf, and the yarn, it was so pretty and soft and I LOVED the color. The scarf itself was a bit…odd looking. It did not actually have straight edges anywhere. But hey! It was a scarf!

Then I tackled a sweater. I was at least smart enough to figure out I should start with something basic, which I did. All the knitting instructions in the whole world say “CHECK YOUR GAUGE” but there I was, all excited about starting my sweater. Why bother? Why delay my awesome project in this way? My knitting was my knitting and besides, I could always knit a bunch and THEN measure the equivalent gauge area, right? So I knit and purled and followed the directions and eventually I had all the pieces of a sweater.

Simpler and not crazy

Not a crazy aunt sweater

Nothing actually fit together quite right. It was definitely sweater shaped, in that it had sleeves and such, but it looked like what it was: a sweater knit by a person who had no idea of the nuances, skill and expertise involved in knitting a sweater.

Not to be deterred, I continued to practice knitting. And eventually I learned that my knitting style was actually a bit odd because of the way I hold the needles and the fact that, though I am mostly right handed, my left hand tends to be slightly more dextrous for some things than my right.

I am not, it turns out, a normal knitter (so I was told once I had the nerve to go to actual knitting shops and interact with knitters) My knitting was pretty, actually, once I learned to how to keep an even tension. I learned how to do cables, too! The magenta sweater was my third sweater, I think, after a couple more scarves to work out my tension issues. It’s a fairly simple sweater.

My fourth sweater (below) was a tour-de-force of intricate cables. And when I was all done, the neck was just a wee bit tight (but not too tight) because, had I bothered to check my gauge, I would have known that I also tend to knit tight and that I should use larger needles than the recommended size.

Why are you yacking about Knitting?

Because I was not able to make a sweater that did not look like your crazy aunt’s nightmare sweater gift until I had made several sweaters, practiced a lot, HOURS, actually, and consulted experts for help.  The brown sweater you see here took me months to make. MONTHS.  The neck should be looser. This is a lovely sweater and I love it. But it’s not a sweater I would ever consider selling (supposing I wanted to go into the sweater-selling business) because while it’s pretty, it has flaws that an end user should not have to suffer.

It's Brown! With Cables.

It’s Brown! With Cables.

Kerfluffle on the Interwebz!

One of the many kurfluffles on the interwebs rights now has to do with self-publishing and costs. Some people say you don’t need to spend any money!!! Others say, spend money to do it right!

Regardless of the answer, starting a business with no money doesn’t seem to be very realistic. Do you know anyone who expects to start a (non writing) business without spending any money? Is there any other business with ZERO start up costs?

Lookit. Yes, you COULD learn to DIY cover. Or DIY edit, proofread, file creation, html.

But allow me to ask you this:

All of those things are full time jobs for people. I think it’s insulting to believe you can, with close to zero investment in time, do any of those things in a professional manner.

Could you at least admit that there’s a learning curve and that until you push over the top, your efforts will be subpar?


In your writing business, why would you take the risk of your covers looking like a crazy aunt sweater? Do you really want to DIY your html and find out that, actually, what you did doesn’t look the way it did on your computer, and that, in fact, on some devices, your book is actually unreadable? Do you really want to invest all that time learning and mastering a skill that is not writing?

You might have so little money that the answer is yes, but in that case, you’d better expect to spend a lot of time making mistakes and doing things that are not writing.

I submit that you might be wrong if you think you should.


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4 Responses to “Thoughts About Starting a Business With No Money”

  1. Beckie says:

    Love the sweaters and the sentiment behind them.
    Well said and well knitted! 🙂

  2. And how to spend that money wisely? That’s the other half of this equation. A lot of authors who claim poverty when it comes to hiring a good editor or cover designer have a custom-designed website, talk about conferences they’ve attended, or complain about the cost of marketing schemes that didn’t work, (when they’ve only written 2 books).
    So I think it’s about priorities, not just money.