Entrepreneur, Hacker and Future Mad Scientist 🚀☕

Category: Entrepreneurship Page 3 of 8

The Paradox of Choice As An Entrepreneur

I was listening to one of  Tim Ferriss’ podcast episodes this morning about limiting your choice for better output and productivity. While listening to the episode it made me think of of this problem when it comes to starting a new venture as an entrepreneur.


When I started my first company there wasn’t much choice, just the decision to do so which made me successful. Now, with so many options, how does one even begin to pick what kind of business to start?


The marketplace has shifted. Yes jobs may be hard to find, but it isn’t because they are going away, they have shifted online through entrepreneurship and freelance work. As more and more people shift into this style of work, more innovation increases.


Never before has there been so much opportunity, too much opportunity. With limited options comes forced results. This is no longer a problem in our culture, no matter where you live in the world. Almost anyone can start making money online, but what route will they go and will they stick with it long enough to see it through?


The Problem


This has created a major problem for myself and others. With so many options fatigue sets in. I know I’m capable of achieving success with any business model, but I can’t seem to stick around long enough for one to hold and mature. I could blame my generation who lacks patients, but I don’t believe that is the total problem.


You could choose from any of the following:

  • Startup (bootstrapped or venture backed)
  • eCommerce (Dropship?)
  • Amazon Products
  • Physical Products
  • Information Products
  • Membership Sites
  • Podcasting
  • Blogging
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Network Marketing
  • Service Business (online or offline)


There is probably a ton more that I can’t even think of as I type this post.


Can you see how someone could get lost in learning about these different business models, but more importantly, being able to completely make a decision to only do one?


You can no longer dabble in all of these. You must completely control your output through limiting your choice. For instance, I would only choose to do eCommerce until I become successful. If I fail the first time with the business model, I continue by using what I learned to start another eCommerce business.


This ensures that you build upon your new found knowledge instead of jumping ship into the next best thing.


We tend to fantasize about the best case scenario of starting a new venture. It goes something like this; You’ve been working on starting a new podcast but cannot seem to get it off the ground.


Then somehow you land on the idea of creating an information product. You think of how easy it must be and how successful you would become. What you forget is the fact that you felt the same way about the podcast before you started the project.


This is a never ending cycle of shiny object syndrome where you travel from idea to idea instead of taking enough action until you become successful. I struggle with this a lot and it’s the main reason why I wanted to write this post. I need to get this off my chest and create a solution.


The Solution:


My solution is simple: I must find someone to hold me accountable and who is currently in the position I want to be in within the next 3 months. I am unable to work on any project or research/learn about anything new unless it directly increases my chances of success with the current business model I am working towards, I am limiting my choice to ensure my focus and output is primed for takeoff.


Because I no longer have to make this decision I free up more mental space to focus on growth and success rather than worrying if this is the right business model for me or whether it’s good enough.


Because of dreamlining(!) I know exactly what I need to make in profit each month to consider a project successful and to fund my ideal lifestyle. Now all I need to do is make it happen by focusing on taking action rather than making a decision.


I’ll check back soon with an update on my progress and how this plan is working out.

How To Extract Your Next Big Idea

If you want to build a highly profitable business you need to solve real problems. You need to set aside your notebook with all of your “amazing” ideas and stop playing business. I want to shed some light on a new method that is gaining in popularity within SaaS startups that apply to any business model you choose.


Business, more importantly startups have a high risk perception. The reason startups are so risky is because the founders are going about business the wrong way. They have this amazing idea, get funding to spend 1-2 years building the product and then launch without any idea if their product solves a painful problem.


Like me, you probably don’t have years or even a large amount of capital to waste on guessing.


What Is Idea Extraction?


Idea extraction works backwards from what you are used to when it comes to developing profitable ideas. There are two simple ways to find amazing business ideas:


1. You have an amazing idea and your mom says she would use the product so you spend your savings and years of your life without ever speaking to a customer to build your product and then launch to the sound of crickets.


2. Or, you take a few months to interview and have conversations with real customers without pitching to listen to what their most painful problems are. After talking with 10+ people you find a common problem that you know how to solve and start a business with paying customers before it’s even built.


Which option makes the most sense?


The Framework


Let’s get to the meaty part of this post and dive into how to extract your first profitable idea without having an anxiety attack.


We need to pick the industry, we are going to focus on, but the industry must meet the following requirements:


  1. Profit driven business (no non-profits)
  2. 5,000-10,000+ businesses in the market place
  3. Easily reachable!
  4. Currently pays for some kind of software/our business model


We want an industry that has the means to pay for our solution from a SaaS business model to a service based business. We also want to ensure our market size is large enough so we don’t run out of new customers any time soon and most importantly, we can actually reach them to do our idea extraction. Most of this is a guestimation, but it’s enough to get you thinking and to not waste your time on a terrible industry.


At this point we have picked what industry we want to work with and now comes the uncomfortable part; Picking up the phone. We want to interview all of our potential customers either over the phone or in person, never over email if possible. If they are local, buy them coffee, if not, a phone call will do.


When scheduling your interview just tell them who you are and that you are doing research for a paper about the most painful problem within the industry and need to speak with industry experts.


How To Extract


There are a few key questions we need to ask in order to get straight to the point:


  1. Walk me through a typical week/day for you
  2. What is the most painful task you do?
  3. Why is it painful?
  4. What are you currently doing so solve it?
  5. Why isn’t that awesome?


By the end of this conversation we’ve gained a huge advantage and understanding about that persons life and what they actually find painful. If you were to follow Dane’s style you would ask what it would be worth to them to have that problem solved, then actually ask them to pay for it upfront to prove the problem is painful enough.


Repeat this process as many times as possible. Eventually a pattern will emerge, a common problem the majority of people you spoke with have.


This is your business.


So instead of thinking up some amazing idea, trying to get funding for a company that doesn’t exist and wasting countless years trying to get profitable, you’ve started a business with paying customers solving a real problem. When you solve a real problem, you don’t need much marketing to generate more sales. Your product will do the selling for you.


The Challenge


If you’ve wanted to start a business for some time or you just stumbled in this world of possibilities I challenge you to use this method to start your next or first business.


Stop making excuses for yourself saying that you just need a better idea. The truth is you do need a better idea, but you’re wrong to think you need to pull that idea out of thin air. Business doesn’t have to be so risky and you don’t need funding to start a massive business. Start with what you have, find a real problem to solve and start solving it without forming an LLC or hiring someone to make you a logo on Fiverr.


Stop playing business and start a business.


ps. Comment below if you want to see me use this method to extract a profitable idea through a case study!

5 Things You Should Already Be Outsourcing

Everyone knows that I’m a huge outsourcing freak. If I can outsource or automate it, I will. I guard my time viciously and because of how much I value my time, I don’t go shopping (I use a monthly subscription for clothes) and I don’t go to the store for things I can get on Amazon (thank you Prime!).


I’ve had a lot of people ask me about getting started outsourcing, mainly what they should start with. In this post we’ll do a simple exercise to help you specifically and then I’ll share the 5 things I think everyone should outsource without question.


Creating Your Hit List

When creating your list, we want to create a list that will give you back your freedom and allow you to focus on the more important parts of your business.


Task You Don’t Like Doing

The obvious first 3 tasks should be the things you simply don’t enjoy doing, such as repetitive daily, weekly or even monthly tasks. Write those down now.


Task You Don’t Know How To Do

Would you rather spend your time learning how to do something trivial or make more sales? The answer should be pretty obvious. Specific things just need to be outsourced as it will save you a ton of time in learning how to do them. These tasks can be skills such as SEO, Graphic Design etc. However, if you enjoy learning these things, then by all means, do them!


Tasks You Shouldn’t Be Doing

What are some tasks you do on a daily or weekly basis, you know you shouldn’t be doing? Write those down as well! Everyone within a business should focus on playing a role, including yourself. What kind of tasks would the CEO of a business NOT do? Remember, we are building a team to make your business more profitable, NOT wastefully outsource.


You know should have a nice size list of things you should be outsourcing right away. I have to remind you that the goal of outsourcing isn’t just to free up your time as the founder or CEO, but to give you more time to focus on what is important within the business like increasing revenue and profits. Don’t outsource social media marketing if it does nothing for your business. Be smart!

5 Things Everyone Should Outsource

If this is your first time hiring a VA (Virtual Assistant) I highly suggest you ease in with a GVA (General Virtual Assistant) that can cover a small batch of tasks easily for you.


*When hiring a GVA include every task they will be responsible for in the job description. Never drop a load of tasks on your VA without properly training them.


Tasks a GVA should be able to do with minimal training are research, maintain social media accounts, manage your calendar, upload your recent blog posts and maintain a publishing schedule, make small personal purchases on your behalf and most important your GVA can eventually move into a project management role to manage your team as it grows!


Your GVA is your starting point and your holy grail of building a true team.


Here are the 5 things you should be outsourcing:

1. Research

I unfortunately spend a decent amount of time doing research, but I’ve found that I could easily create a system/document (shared Google Drive Doc) that makes it super easy for my GVA to do the research and present her findings in an easy to digest form. No more spending hours searching through Google!


2. WordPress Fixes

All hail WordPress… Free themes for days and a countless amount of plugins, but for some this can even take up to much time. I’ve used WordPress for a long time, so most changes don’t take long, but I sometimes get locked into the WordPress dark hole and it’s 5+ hours later. Instead, I’ve created a Trello board for my site. It’s basically the Hub where I put in all content ideas and design ideas. One board saves me a huge amount of time is the “Changes” board. The Changes board is for my GVA. Whatever is on that board will get done each week.


3. Search Engine Optimization

Do you honestly think you have enough time to keep up with the ever evolving world of SEO? Unless you do SEO full time for a living, you don’t. SEO is a tricky one to outsource because there are a lot of low quality people to outsource this to. Do some (not your VA on this one) research and find someone who is already outsourcing this task successfully and ask for an introduction to use their VA.


4. Video Editing

This has become a hot topic lately and something I would love to get into. Video adds such an amazing level of content and visuals to a site. It really shouldn’t be neglected. Making the videos yourself is the easy part, but putting them all together into a seamless, beautiful with gorgeous graphics is an art. Leave this one to a VA who knows what they are doing!


5. Any Sort of Development

Unless you are a developer yourself or actually interested in learning to develop (like myself) you shouldn’t even mess with this one. Development can cost you a lot of money, but can easily cost you years of learning on your own for a half-baked app that still doesn’t do what you want. Save yourself years and outsource your ideas to bring them to market 10x faster than on your own.


* I highly suggest you at least become familiar with technical concepts to better understand and communicate with your developer, though.


Some of the above tasks a GVA can easily do, but don’t expect your GVA to do Development and SEO. When outsourcing you must think in terms of roles. A GVA should only do general tasks that you can do without special skills. Something with a developer, only hire for the developer role.


I’ve used outsourcing in my business as well as my personal life and it has completely changed my outlook on what is possible. It’s time for you to take back your freedom, increase your profits and build a team that works while you sleep.

The 4 Factors of Success

We all understand the struggle as entrepreneurs. We have multiple projects going at a time, unsure of which to focus on and no certainty of success whatsoever. For some of us, we spend years, making no money and being called crazy. For others, success is simply around the corner or at least within grasp.


With all of this chaos, how do you organize yourself to highly increase your chances of success?


Creating Clarity


If you don’t have a clear understanding of what you want, anything will do. Take the time to focus on what success truly means to you, from an emotional, physical and financial standpoint.


Clarity is the hidden power that grants you access to knowledge that clearly defines what actions you need to take to reach success. So many companies these days are simplifying. Instead of focusing on every metric possible, businesses like AppSump focus on one metric until it has been achieved.


Focusing on one simple metric forces you to clarify what you want.


Build Confidence


What do the most successful entrepreneurs and CEOs of the world have in common? Undoubting faith in themselves and their business. Insecurity can completely destroy you before you even get started. This is why all of your friends and family members with “amazing ideas” never pull the trigger to make it happen.


Sit down, think through what bothers you, what doubts you currently have and draft a plan to eliminate them as quickly as possible.


Once you have clarity and a direct understanding of where you want to go and what it will take, you need to build confidence to take action and make it happen.


Find Like Minded People


At some point in your life, you will need support (aka right now!).


Now that you understand where you want to go, what it will take and have the courage to do so, you need to be surrounded by people who are doing something similar or who have already accomplished a similar goal.


Would you rather learn how to make six figures a year from a friend who works at the local grocery store or the millionaire down the street? I’d bet money that the millionaire can get you to six figures a whole lot faster.


The kind of person you need to be to go from average income to six or even seven figures is very different. Surround yourself with those kinds of people and watch just how different they truly are.


Create Your Success Habits


Chances are you have a million things on your mind right now, so how can I ask you to think about even more? Because if you don’t take action every single day, your motivation will begin to drop and eventually you might burn out.


You need to take direct and effective action towards your goal each day.


Once you understand where you are going and what it will take, break it down into a smaller sub-goal you can do each and every day. If you were to write a book, would you lock yourself into a room for a month? Heck no, but you could focus on writing 500-1000 words each day.


Your daily actions add up to your larger goal quickly and guarantee consistent progress.


The barrier to entry is so incredibly low for starting a hugely successful business and for you to create your ideal life. It only takes clarity, understand and action.


Post Mortem of My First (and last) Flippa Purchase

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 6.43.13 PM

I finally did it. I took the risk and purchased my first profitable website with the hopes of getting closer to my goal of $2,000 /month in online cash flow assets, but it wasn’t what I expected.

The auction was coming to an end on a site I had been watching for some time. It was said to be making roughly $2,000 per month in net profit. Perfect right? I began bidding on the site in hopes of a great deal and a great deal I got.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 6.42.51 PM

By the end of the auction I had purchased the site for $450. It wasn’t until after that I realized this wasn’t a good deal at all.

It took around two weeks to fully transfer the site to my accounts because of the holidays. After chatting with the seller for a few weeks he kept dodging my questions on monetization. A topic that is quite important…

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 6.42.11 PM

Once the site was fully transferred I began watching the analytics to see any signs of life. Luckily the site was getting around 1,000+ pageviews per day. Because the seller wouldn’t provide any real monetization strategies used to generate the “$2,000/month” net profit, I had to get creative.

I began playing with various ad platforms, but never made more than $0.05. Oh yea, that’s total revenue. Then, I moved to Clickbank products and Amazon Affiliate. Each providing more reasons for this sites downfall.

Based on EV (Expected Value) the risk would have been well worth it, but the EV was not accurate because the seller lied about earnings and could never provide any real means of profiting from the site.

So what now?

I’ve learned a ton from this little experience; Mainly that I will not be using Flippa ever again as they do seemly nothing to protect their buyers. Instead, I’ll focus on sites like EmpireFlippers.com who are actual brokers and protect buyers as equally as sellers on their sites.

Justin recently reached out to me with one of my posts which helped a ton. How could I ever expect to purchase a profitable site for less than 10x its monthly revenue he asked. He was right and I was incredibly ill-advised.

What would you do in my situation; You’ve just lost your investment, but you won’t be giving up anytime soon. How would you bounce back from this?

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