How to Start a Business You Care About — With No Business Ideas and No Money

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Alan Donegan

Imagine going from having no business ideas and no money, to making your first sales in 2 weeks.

It’s not a far-fetched goal according to this week’s guest.

Alan Donegan from specializes in guiding people through this transformation, and he says that everyone has a profitable business idea in their heads – and he knows how to find it.

He does this through in-person workshops that are free to attend by forming partnerships with government bodies in cities across the UK, and he’s bringing his workshops to the US soon.

Alan is adamant about bootstrapping and not taking on a load of debt to start a business because he saw his family go through a multi-million dollar bankruptcy and doesn’t want anyone else to have to experience the same fate.

He preaches starting a business around a passion or something that excites you. Because running a business you’re passionate about sets you apart from the competition and makes the process so much easier.

He shares how he teaches his students to pre-sell and validate their side hustle ideas before putting down cash for stock that might end up collecting dust in the garage.

Alan also shares how he practiced what he preaches when he sold his first PopUpBusiness workshop to a housing authority in the UK. He ended up selling his highest priced package right out of the gate, and his business has been gaining momentum ever since.

Tune in to hear how Alan pulls business ideas out of people who don’t think they have any, how he has his students quickly and cheaply validate those ideas, and what makes for a successful pitch.

Related: I created The Progress Journal to keep you on track with your business goals and help you feel more effective and satisfied with your work.

Free Bonus: Download Alan’s Top Tips For Generating Business Ideas and Making Sales

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Inside you'll find all of Alan's top tips to start a business you care about.

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Download the Free PDF Highlight Reel

Inside you'll find all of Alan's top tips to start a business you care about.

Where should I sent Alan's top tips from this episode?

I'll also send you my best side hustle tips and weekly-ish newsletter.
Opt-out anytime.

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

10 thoughts on “How to Start a Business You Care About — With No Business Ideas and No Money”

  1. Hi Allan

    Listened to the side hustle podcast today. Great show. Thanks.

    Are there any events in the US? and for folks who cannot attend events, do you have video recordings of your past events that we can watch and learn?

    Over the past five years, I’ve really tried a lot of side hustles (kindle ebooks, Amazon fba, ecommerce site, stocks, real estate, etc) and they have failed after few months. I tell myself that atleast I’ve tried and I’m an action taker. But the sad reality is that I’m still where I was.

    I’ve seriously reached a point where I really need to start something on the side and this podcast was the perfect timing. I’m now going through your 20 steps that you have on your site….

    My why (step1) is (financial stability and freedom). I’m really struggling with getting an idea (step2) and could use your help. Part of step2 was to come up with ideas that really excite me. What really excites me are topics like ….starting something on the side, making money on the side, making passive income, etc. Can you pl. guide me.

    If there is an email I can reach out to you directly, that works as well.

    Thanks again.

    • KC, what a lovely message thank you for writing to me. We do actually have an event coming up in the USA in Houston in February next year You are welcome to come along.

      Our facebook page has some of the livestreams from the Longmont event last year with mr Money Mustache if you want to catch some of those.

      On to your most important point. What to do a business on. Some different ways to cut it:

      1. What excites me, what gets me going, what do I want to spend time on?
      2. What annoys me? Where do I have pain and frustration? What needs fixing?
      3. What can I give to other people that is of so much value they would pay me to do it?

      Love your why and that you have started the step by step guide. Thank you

      The topics you mention above could be done in three ways:

      1. if that is your passion become the crash test dummy of these business ideas and write about your experience (pocast, video or write) and then share your knowledge. People learn more form the failures that they do the success! This is a long term strategy

      2. Keep starting things. if you do it without risk then you have nothing to loose. My first idea was not me best by a long way and I failed many times. You learn as you go. Start something, study and learn and get better. It is not an easy path but there is long term rewards

      3. Find Someone with an idea that you can partner with and launch something in a team of two. Quite often there are people without the knowledge of how to do it but they have lots of ideas. If you are the opposite then find one of them and partner. Having 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing!

      Does that give you some ideas to get going?

      Message me anytime.


  2. Great podcast! Really enjoyed it. Now I just need to figure out how to make money around watching movies/series, or fitness. Already tried doing YouTube stuff for fitness…but no money there..yet.
    Anyway, thanks for the inspiration!

    • Pleasure Stephan. Glad you enjoyed it. There are so many ways to make money doing movies!

      1. Make them – get out your iPhone and start filming and promoting on youtube

      2. review them – website, video, for another already successful site?

      3. Start a high end service getting people premier tickets. I would pay for that

      4. Write scripts and sell them. I read a course recently called “How to write a movie in a month” and I am going to have a go at writing and selling a script in a month this year in March

      5. memorabilia. There is an incredible market in memorabilia

      There are so many ways to get involved! Just start doing it and start selling!

      hope that helps


  3. Hi Nick,

    I listen to yours and similar podcasts for around two years now but this is the best(!) one so far for me. I don’t know but somehow it has hit the sweet spot for me and tackled exactly the questions I had for a while. Other podcasts are great too but, despite trying not to, often intimidate me or just confuse. I never know what is the next step for me. This podcast I think answers this question and I will certainly re-listen to this one again and try some action. With great excitement I will now get back to my day work, impatiently waiting for it to finish so that I can get back to side hustling again. A big THANK YOU and keep up the good work!

    Pawel Kowalski

  4. Hello Nick

    Just logged in to check…..
    Are you planning to have Allan take a look at the comments section to answer the questions we have?



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