What can I do if I can't afford to start a startup? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Evan Asano, founder and CEO of Mediakix.com, @EvanAsano, on Quora:

You can afford to start a startup, you just can't afford to start the one you're envisioning with your promotion/user acquisition plan. But there are plenty of startups that have launched with little to no money or investment. You're just stuck on a particular idea and mindset.

I launched Mediakix is 2011 with $100 - just the cost to file the paperwork to register it as an LLC. We're now a multi-million dollar company and growing fantastically well. We were the first of our kind, an influencer marketing company before anyone was really thinking about influencer marketing. The reason I could start the company with only $100 is because there were no overhead costs, and I went out and got my first paying customer right away.

The cheap startups start with paying customers. Get someone to pay you for something, and you have a business. Repeat that process and make it scalable with sales and marketing and you have a successful business.

Expensive startups require product build and user acquisition costs. They'll then require product and user acquisition teams and millions of dollars in funding. Why? Because building and maintaining product is expensive and acquiring users is expensive. Why start here unless you have the money or investors?

Instead of thinking the next Airbnb or Facebook, think of a service or skill you have or could learn that someone will pay you for. For ideas, dig around Upwork (a freelancer market place) and see what people charge for different jobs and skills.

If you offer the right type of skill and you do it well enough, you'll be able to charge by the project instead of hourly. That way you can increase your margins. If your skill is in demand enough then you can start to market it with a website, Google Adwords etc. If you can do this well, you can build a company.

In any case, to build a successful start up, you'll need to know a lot about business. Here are the books you should read before you get started:

The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business - This the most valuable book to read before starting any business. Look at it as the aggregate of the best of hundreds of other books on business, sales, marketing and strategy.

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich - A must read for anybody who wants to be an entrepreneur. Tim has a unique view point that can dramatically affect how you think about your job, work and business.

How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It eBook - Mark Cuban's biography. He defines hustle and being scrappy. He's most famous for selling his company to Yahoo during the first dot com boom, but he'd started several successful companies before that.

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Published on: Jul 28, 2016