It was Sunday March 4th, 2017. My girlfriend and I were on a 4 hour road trip. During this time of boredom, the topic of homelessness arose. We had two fundamental differences. I wanted to save a part of my paycheck each month to give away to the homeless people I come across. She felt that giving money to the homeless was irresponsible. Through our back and forth argument, I started to think about this idea I had been sitting on for 2 years. What if, when approached by someone asking for money, you say, “sorry I don’t have any cash,” and they respond with, “I take credit card!.” How would that change things? What if you could know where that donated money is going? What if you could make sure that donated money is being saved for a house instead of wondering if it’s being spent on vices?
My business (or social experiment) is based on the idea that homelessness arises from a lack of financial planning or knowledge. People who never save a percentage of their income place themselves at a higher risk of becoming homeless. My solution? Let’s help the homeless to start saving money. We can set up a financial account in their name and allow the public to donate directly to their fund. Let’s set up conditions so that the donated money can only be withdrawn to be spent on housing and necessities like food and clothing.
Steps to Starting a Business:
Step 1: READ! Books have changed my life. Books have taught me to understand people, manage finances, run a business, market a company, and become physically fit. Books have everything you need and just reading one book can save you years of anguish. My philosophies for picking a book: Ask really smart people what they recommend. Then read it. My favorite question is: “What is one book that changed your life?”
Step 2: Come up with lots and lots of ideas. Then begin to bounce them off of everyone. Do not keep those ideas to yourself. This step took me very long to learn. I always kept my ideas a secret because I didn’t want to sound stupid and I didn’t want someone to steal my intellectual property. But when you collaborate with others, you can test your assumptions against their experience. You can quickly learn which ideas are good and which are bad. Then you can move on.
Step 3: Go fast and go cheap! Figure out your assumptions and then test those assumptions as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Don’t waste time on developing a patent, building a brand or spending money on advertising unless those things directly test your assumptions. Get creative!
Step 4: This is my favorite step of all. Find a mentor! Having someone to learn from and discuss your ideas is so satisfying. I nerd out on entrepreneurship, and it’s even better to have someone to nerd out with! I wouldn’t be in my position today if it wasn’t for the following mentors (listed by introduction timeline): Ross Christopher, Sharonda Williams, Adam Bagwell, Abdiel Louis, Vic Mattison, and Chris Lebeau. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of you.
April 15th: I have built a website. Started my e-commerce platform. Submitting a provisional patent. Decided to set up the business as a non-profit. Have a council of non-profit lawyers who are willing to provide pro-bono legal services. Started a blog. Registered the business name of “The Liberty Fund.” Established a domain name. Established Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
What is pressing? I need a bank. I need to understand how to legally hold/restrict uses of an individual’s money. I need to recruit 9 people for a test group. I need to get introduced to the downtown business community. I need to understand the powers and limitation of a non-profit and board of directors.
I will provide details in the coming weeks. I do not know the outcome. This will be exciting.
John Kmetz @ The Liberty Fund