How to build a 6 figure business doing what you love (for less than $100)

  • Rule #1: Keep it Lean to keep it real - build the leanest possible version of your business to get into the game fast
  • Rule #2: Avoid wasting time and money on unnecessary activities like writing a business plan, designing a logo
  • Rule #3: Focus only on the activities that bring customers (and good growth) rather than the activities that feel comfortable

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Graham D Brown - author of the guide

What are you going to learn in this section?

Most business advice that tells you to write a business plan is bullshit. Most entrepreneurs get caught up in all the “stuff” that goes with building a new business that takes time and money.

I want to show you in this guide how you can build a business fast and low risk. You need to change the way you think about business, and that new style of building an ultra-lean low risk business is what I want to teach you in this book…

CHAPTER 6

WHAT IS THIS?

You're reading one chapter from my new Guide:
How to Become a Lifestyle Entrepreneur

HOW TO BUILD A 6 FIGURE BUSINESS DOING WHAT YOU LOVE FOR LESS THAN $100

  • Even thought it’s often said, “follow your passion” can be bad business advice
  • Many entrepreneurs followed their passion and failed, but we only hear about the successes
  • It’s better to work with a proven system

It’s possible… but, before you go do the “follow your passion thing”…

follow your passion myth

Wait… before you dive in.

A word of warning.

This “follow your passion” everybody keeps talking about.

It’s bullshit…

What I mean is creating the business of your dreams is not achieved by following your passion.

Sure, you need passion to make it happen but there were 1,000 entrepreneurs who failed even though they followed their passion for every one success story you hear in the media. That’s survivor bias, we only hear the stories of those that made it. And of course, they all had buckets of passion to get them there.

So, what differentiates the passionate successes from the passionate failures?

Being passionate is not enough, you need to be able to make products that customers will love and you need to be able to ship those products before your time and money runs out.

Many entrepreneurs were passionate about creating stuff only to find that nobody wanted it or their time and money ran out. We want to avoid that mistake.

The difference is a system.

The Lifestyle Business system is a 3 step process to take an Idea and turn that Idea into paying customers with the minimum amount of time, money and (of course) bullshit.

THE 3 STEP LIFESTYLE BUSINESS SYSTEM

  • A Lifestyle Business doesn’t suit everyone, it’s important to remember our goal is Lifestyle
  • A Lifestyle Business can make you good money, but that’s your choice
  • A Lifestyle Business should never compromise your Lifestyle goals

Before we talk about how the Lifestyle Business System works, let’s first clarify our goal.

How to build a 6 figure business doing what you love for less than $100.

I want to start by breaking that challenge down:

Build a 6 figure business: our goal is to build a business that’s worth your time. $100,000 a year is enough to live well anywhere in the world. Sure, you might be stretching your budget a little in Monte Carlo but that’s your choice. There are plenty of cooler places you can hang out. We’re not building a part time income, or a business that keeps you living paycheck to paycheck. You should be able to live without worrying about paying the bills and be able to save money for a rainy day.

Doing what you love: your business should never compromise your Lifestyle goal. If you end up making $100k a year but being unhappy, you failed. Lifestyle should guide every decision about growth from the idea you choose to how you market yourself.

For less than $100: and we want to build a Lifestyle Business in the lowest risk way. You are not going to borrow money or seek investment. While these are options for traditional entrepreneurs, they create obligations to work in ways that compromise your Lifestyle.

  • Rather than just get passionate, work hard and never give up, you need a system
  • My Lifestyle Business System has 3 distinct stages
  • Follow this system every time you want to turn an idea into customers

To achieve this goal, we’re going to use the 3 Step Lifestyle Business System as follows:
1) Idea
2) Execution
3) Hustle

  • Your business idea is what keeps you awake at night or think about in the shower

Step 1) IDEA. We want to validate your Useful idea, to take a shortlist of “maybe”s and narrow it down to one strong option. Our goal is a single idea we feel we can make a product out of. We have to build a business within our budget of $100, so our Idea stage will be fast and targeted.

  • Execution is turning your idea into a product (even a very basic product)
  • A product can also mean a service, not just a physical or digital good

Step 2) EXECUTION. Do people want this product? CB Insights found that the number one cause of startup failure (42% of the time) was “no market need.” We don’t want to waste weeks finding out. We want to create the smallest version of your product that somebody will be willing to pay money for. We call this a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Our goal is to get at least 1 person to pay at least $1 for our MVP. Because the sooner we get customers, the sooner we can reach our 6 figure, we will prioritize our first sales over everything in the Execution stage. That means no messing around and adopting a laser-like focus on our first customer.

  • Once you build a product, you need to go and Hustle for new customers
  • Never fall for the “build it and they will come” advice

Step 3) HUSTLE. Now we have a customer /customers from Step 2, we want to get more. Our goal is to get new customers. The challenge is to build our business doing what we love, so it’s important we Hustle in ways that play to our strengths rather than our weaknesses and do it in a way that maximizes our minimal marketing budget.

The key to success in the Lifestyle Business System is minimum risk.

Low risk means launching your business with the minimum time and money. It also means we can accommodate failure and change more readily in our plans.

You’re probably getting a feeling for a Lifestyle Business being different. It is. This isn’t a traditional startup or business from the 20th century. These differences are important because they define the Lifestyle Business System and I’d like to spend a little time talking about them and why they’re important so you don’t get distracted by Traditional Entrepreneurialism.

HOW A LIFESTYLE BUSINESS DIFFERS FROM A TRADITIONAL BUSINESS

  • Much of what we know about business, and business advice is built on traditional industrial entrepreneurship
  • We will borrow from this legacy, take what works and what doesn’t
  • We will also borrow from the more recent Lean Startup movement and apply the same

Just as the Lifestyle Entrepreneur chooses an unconventional path, the Lifestyle Business is different to what’s normally taught.

So, let’s run a quick comparison between the strategies of Traditional and Lifestyle Entrepreneurs.

Traditional Entrepreneur Lifestyle Entrepreneur
Build a multi-million dollar business, because that’s how society measures success. Until you get there, you’re just small-fry. Build a 6 figure business, because that’s enough to live a good lifestyle. Everything beyond that is choice.
Work like a bastard. Sacrifice your Lifestyle now in the hope you get a future payoff (e.g. sell-out or retirement). Doing what you love. Your business should never compromise your Lifestyle goals and make you unhappy.
Borrow from the bank, from your family or from credit cards. Spend a lot of time and focus seeking investment. For less than $100. The lowest risk possible way of achieving the result in terms of both money and time.

The Traditional Business model is rooted in the last century. Back then, there was no internet of mention which meant to get customers you needed to pay a lot of money upfront:

You needed to advertise. You also needed staff, which meant you now had to have an office near a place where people lived which itself led to a number of compromises. Firstly, you had to live near the office and secondly, you had to pay extra for an office in town rather than being stuck out on a remote industrial state somewhere.

All of these extras associated with a Traditional Business cost time and money. We haven’t even talked about building the product or paying the staff (or yourself) yet. Now, let’s say at a minimum, with staffing costs included, this model costs you $10,000 a month. To launch your business and build your product you’re going to need 6 months of money, so let’s say $60,000 in the bank before you even get started, not including the cost of making the product, the cost of sales, the cost of registering your business etc.

  • Traditional businesses were expensive and risky compared to Lifestyle Businesses
  • That means many of the things business owners did or do were necessitated by this cost
  • Let’s not do something just because that’s how it was always done

$60,000 is a big enough sum of money to require you to register the business, so now you’re paying for lawyers and accountants all of which take time and money.

The point here isn’t the money. The point is the risk and how that now dictates the kind of work you can do. Because there’s 60 grand of somebody’s money riding on this business, you can’t simply do what you want. You have to start chasing business that pays the bills, and that means you’re forced to do work because it pays, not because it makes a difference. Your ability to take real risk is restricted: you can’t simply scrap your product if it doesn’t work and do something else because you and your staff have mortgages to pay, families to feed. You’re committed, and that’s not always a good thing.

Now, fast forward to the 21st century and we have the internet and we can do things differently, but we choose not to. We might be using the internet, but we’re still building Traditional Businesses in the traditional way.

I like to ask “What if?” and looking at this model, my thoughts are… “what if you could build a business without any of this bullshit?”

The first question we need to ask is, “what actually is a business?”

  • Does a website make a business? No
  • Does a logo make a business? No
  • Does having a team make a business? No

The only thing that makes a business is having a paying customer. Until you reach that point, you don’t have a business. Anything else is window-dressing.

  • Much of what’s taught as traditional steps to start a business are useless
  • You only need to focus on getting a paying customer
  • You don’t even need a website, a product or to register your business to be “a business”

So, let’s take a short-cut here.

What if you could short-cut the whole startup process of getting your first customer? What’s important? What’s not important?

Everything Else Stuff That Matters
 Registering your business Getting your first customer
 Choosing domains and company names
 Designing a logo
 Lawyers and accountants
 Offices
Hiring a team
Perfecting your product
Writing a business plan

This is laying it bare, without all the bullshit.

You can launch a business in days, not weeks, months or years. There is a good reason why you should do that – not because you’re reckless, but the opposite. The shorter the time spent without a paying customer, the higher your risk of failure.

  • The more you do that’s not “getting your first paying customer” the more you waste time and money
  • The more time and money you waste, the more you increase your cost (not risk) of failure

Think about that. In the Traditional Model, you could spend 6 months and $60,000 learning that nobody likes your product. In the Lifestyle Model you can get there with less than $100 and a week’s time. Comparing these outcomes, who has enough time to turn things around?

Although we like to paint entrepreneurs as big risk-takers, the Traditional Business model limits their risk. If they only get one or two shots at getting it right before they are out of business, they need to minimize their risk of failure. The Lifestyle Business has time and money to recover from failure. If week 1 doesn’t work out, you still have plenty of “burn time” to make it happen.

So, the first step in answering the challenge of “How to build a 6 figure business doing what you love for less than $100” is choosing the right model.

WANTREPRENEUR vs ENTREPRENUER: WHICH ARE YOU?

  • Many people talk about businesses, and starting businesses, but only 1 in 7 businesses survive year 1
  • Most business owners fail because they avoid the uncomfortable task of getting customers
  • These owners aren’t entrepreneurs, they are “wantrepreneurs” and unfortunately, they are the majority

The second step in building a successful Lifestyle Business is choosing the right mindset.

You see, as old fashioned as it sounds nowadays… launching a business is like asking a boy or a girl out on a date.

No matter how much you mess around in preparation, there is no avoiding the issue: you have to ask. If you can’t ask, you’ll never get the date.

That’s the “moment of truth” which you cannot avoid.

It’s the build up to the moment of truth where fear kicks in and you resort to procrastination. Fear can trap you in a loop of forever messing around with product or financial forecasts or trying to find people to join your business.

When fear wins the day, you become a Wantrepreneur: the guy who does what’s comfortable. “Comfortable” is all the items listed above under “Everything Else”. These are the activities that are relatively easy, that give you a sense of progress, but ultimately avoid the “moment of truth”.

  • Wantrepreneurs waste time on stuff that’s comfortable but feels right e.g. “writing beautiful code” or “researching my idea a bit more”
  • You cannot ignore the “moment of truth” – asking for the sale

Wantrepreneurs talk the talk but do nothing about their business ideas. If you meet someone at a networking event and they are telling you about the same Idea they were talking about a month ago without finding their first paying customer, they are a Wantrepreneur. Too many Wantrepreneurs in your network will make you end up thinking like them. It’s easy to be seduced into believing this is how to play the game successfully when you hear it played like this so often. so be careful with the conversations you have.

Here are a few warning signs that identify Wantrepreneurs, and these could be people you meet or even your own inner Wantrepreneur talking to you:

  • “I need to get the product right before releasing it”
  • “We’ll be ready in 4 months”
  • “We’re in stealth mode, can’t talk about our plans”
  • “We need funding before we can develop our prototype”

WHY NOTHING HAPPENS UNITL YOU SHIP

The key to building a 6 figure business doing what you love for less than $100 is to do it differently.

Unlike the Wantrepreneur, the Entrepreneur doesn’t do what’s comfortable but what brings customers. That means consciously stepping outside your comfort zone which is never easy, but always necessary. The entrepreneur does not avoid the moment of truth.

  • Being able to go straight to the moment of truth and ask for the sale is key to success as an entrepreneur
  • Nothing else matters

Let me spell this out in some blunt rules for starting a business:

1) Nothing happens until you ship

2) Your first and only goal is to find a paying customer

3) No customer = no company

The first, and most important moment of truth, for the Lifestyle Entrepreneur is Shipping. Shipping is getting your product into the hands of a paying customer. We can defined our initial startup activities as falling into one of two categories:

  • Pre-Shipping: everything that happens before getting your first customer
  • Post-Shipping: everything that happens after

Your goal as an Entrepreneur is to spend as little time and money as possible in the Pre-Shipping stage of your business. That’s how you can launch a business for less than $100 in days rather than weeks or months.

  • Spend as little time as possible in Pre-Shipping

The good news is that it’s both possible to minimize your Pre-Shipping activities and build a better business as a result of doing so. The last part is because you don’t really know what your customer wants or thinks until you ask them to open their wallet. Everything else is an assumption. So, if you spent 6 months building around an assumption, you’re taking a massive risk. Better to build fast, test quickly and improve on the results.

So, let’s look at how you can Ship fast:

How to Ship Fast
Activities Do only what’s absolutely necessary to get your product into the hands of a paying customer. Everything else can wait.
Planning You don’t need a business plan. Everything you assume in the plan will change “in the wild”. As they say in the military “no plan survives the enemy”. In business, no plan survives the customer.
Incorporation No need to register your company at this early stage. Early incorporation will limit your options and detract your focus.
Research Small amounts of effective research can help you focus your initial offering but you should not spend days or any of your money at this stage.
Product Build the smallest version of the product available (called a Minimum Viable Product), in the shortest possible time, with the minimum features and see if the customer is willing to buy it.
Branding Website, logos, company name etc… none of this matters at the Pre-Shipping stage and only slows you down. You can successfully launch a business with none of these.

GUIDE CONTENTS: CHAPTERS 1-12

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