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With as Little as $500, These Entrepreneurs Created Multimillion-Dollar Businesses. Learn Their Secrets. Don't let a lack of cash stop a good business idea from succeeding.

By David Port

This story appears in the March 2014 issue of Start Up.

Successfully launching two tech businesses with almost no startup money made it easy for Mike Michalowicz to attract venture capital for his next enterprise, an angel investing company called Obsidian Launch. But in a clear case of "be careful what you wish for," Michalowicz took the money, then saw his new startup flop, victimized by what he says in hindsight was poor decision-making brought on by a lack of urgency.

"I've started a business with nothing, and I've started one with a lot of money, and I have to say I'd rather start with nothing," says Michalowicz, author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, whose latest venture is New Jersey profit and growth accelerator Provendus Group. "Nothing forces you to make better and faster decisions, because you feel the pain of every mistake acutely. You're more apt to respond quickly to what works and what doesn't when you don't have a lot of money. When I failed with Obsidian Launch, I didn't feel the pain. I just threw more money and more time at it, which made things worse."

The takeaway is that lack of cash won't keep a good business idea--at least one that's executed well--from succeeding. And it's not just Michalowicz who has proved it. Take a cue from our cross section of successful businesses whose founders used their resourcefulness and hard work to create multimillion-dollar enterprises. It's time to start thinking big.

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