Start Up a Business for Nothing?


That phrase has been bouncing around in my head since it was the cover story of Entrepreneur’sMay issue in 2010. I have been quoting and citing resources from the article and its case studies since, primarily with my adult clients contemplating giving up the job search to do their own thing.As the year marched on, I found myself toying with an idea for a new company I could run in conjunction with the work I already do to earn some extra cash and equity while having fun. Could I start and launch this idea with a $100 investment while running and operating another business? The answer is yes—and I did exactly that  with an idea I conceived and launched in 17 days. 

Here is the time line with expenses:

December 4th: Picked up a book my nephew, Aidan wrote at 6 am from my local postmaster and woke up the nine year old a little too early to show him his published masterpiece.

December 5th: Aidan brings the book to school and his teacher has him read it to his class. I get an idea that maybe this self publishing project I did with my nephews in Austin and Dallas should become a business.

December 6th: I buy  domain on for $9.99.

December 7th: I find a free image on and create a logo in word for free!

December 9th-12th: Two focus groups are pitched, the idea and the feedback is amazing and helpful.

December 13th: I finalize a location and price for pilots in Austin.

December 14th and 15th: I create spreadsheet P/Ls for running local Kamps in Texas and then set up a business model to license the methodology.

December 16th: Finalize dates for pilots in Dallas.

December 19th: Start 30 day Free Trial on for web design and web hosting. I began teaching myself how to design a website.

December 20th: Create flyers for advertising programs and launch beta of site. Recruit two interns and a few others who will work on commission. Find first licensee in New York City.

December 21st: With the help of very wonderful people at Intuit, launch live site and set up ability to take credit cards for an investment of $4.99. Designed and ordered business cards from priority delivery for $16.99.

December 22nd: Began promoting pilots and got DBA license for $21.00. Purchased printer cartridges for printing flyers for $44.00.

The business was opened with an initial investment of $96.97.  Since then we have had 3 summer “kamps” and a pilot at a school. The next phase for Kid Book Kamp is to license the method to schools nationally. Learn more at

Laurel Donnellan

CEO and Founder, Bright Livelihoods


Laurel has 30 years of experience as a leader, educator and coach and has degrees from Cornell and Columbia. To learn more about the Bright Livelihoods community, go to To request a private half-hour coaching session, e-mail us at

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