Can’t Get Started with Your Business Idea? 7 Common Hang-ups and Thoughts on Kicking Their Ass

Site updates: I’m currently in Bali, Indonesia with my business partner @AnythingIan. For me, Bali totally lives up to its billing. I am loving it here. Since the last post here, David from TMBA Semester II and I have been having tons of fun in the Philippines and we’ve launched a new venture that we’ll sharing with you in the coming months– this one is truly a lifestyle business. For all of you who are interested in our paid internships, we’ll likely be launching TMBA III within the next 2-3 months. Its focus will likely be on editing and publishing our podcast which is now cash flow positive thanks to the listeners who have been supporting us. I’d really like to publish 2-3 programs a week plus do a live show, but the production costs are huge, especially in terms of time. It might even be based out of Bali! We are working through the logistics on that now. Most of my business thoughts lately have been published at the Lifestyle Business Podcast, here’s the episodes we’ve put out since the last post here at TropicalMBA:

I get a lot of emails from people just getting started asking me to evaluate their business ideas. Here are some general principles I pulled out of my responses and my hope is that these thoughts are helpful to some folks who are looking to get started with their own internet based business. As always, take my advice at your own discretion :)

Can’t Get Started with Your Business Idea? 7 Common Hang-ups and Thoughts on Kicking Their Ass

  • Start With Selling – When people write me with a great idea for a blog or website, I generally say “send me a great idea for a product.” A better way to start a new business is to write a classic 4,000 word long-form sales letter. They force you to conceptualize a precise value proposition. You’ll need to determine the benefits of a product, how it will be cost neutral to your market (how it will make them money, or save them time, or perhaps, solve a burning problem), and what kind of prices you are going to be asking. You’ll also need to create responses to common objections from potential buyers. This is also the time to consider the pricing on your products and how many customers you’ll need to cultivate in order to keep the lights on or afford the lifestyle you desire. You can’t say the same thing for hits, visitors, or subscribers, so shy away from those types of metrics in the beginning.
  • “I’m Willing to Work Hard for It” Doesn’t Mean Much – Be Prepared to be obsessed about your business. Everyone I know who has the kind of business that allows them to do cool shit thinks about it all the time. I’ve met very few exceptions. In general these people watch less TV and movies than others. They have rules about how they spend their time. They put up with less shit. They don’t complain about working too much. They complain about working too little. If you don’t totally dig the process of growing businesses, you probably won’t make good ones. Consistency of effort is huge when starting your own venture, so keep your eyes on the 5 year horizon. That’ll make all the big changes you need to make seem less daunting. In other words, you’ve got time, and you’ll need it :)
  • You Have Unrealistic Ideas About What it Takes to Take Peoples Money – Here’s what it takes to get people’s money: ANYTHING. Some things that work: A pitch, an ask, an invoice, a sales letter, a compelling opt-in form. Start issuing all of them. The web is a great way to do anything but make money. In general, think less about your WEBSITES and more about your INVOICES.
  • Your Friends and Family Are Holding You Back – One of the reasons you are having trouble getting started is that nobody around you is an entrepreneur. Friends and family are SUPER demanding on your time. Most of the people I hung around with when I was “working for the weekends” are no longer in close contact. That’s often the sacrifice that needs to be made. What you’ve lost in good times and shared memory you’ll earn back in respect for having gone after your vision. It’s important to focus on supportive relationships that keep you motivated and contribute to your vision. In my case, I’m very lucky to work closely with my business partner Ian everyday. We keep each other focused and motivated. I also participate in mastermind groups which are incredibly helpful and supportive. This stuff isn’t easy and building a network of people who support your new vision is a great way to improve your odds of success.
  • You Want to Do it “Right” – When somebody talks about delaying a project or launch because they want to “do it right” it generally means they are toiling to meet arbitrary standards they’ve set up in their head. Often the “problems” are silly behind the scenes tech solutions or design standards that don’t help your target market at all. They do, however, help you avoid getting down to the dirty business of selling. If you want to “do something right” when you are an established business and making money, more power to you, but if you find yourself saying this a lot before you’ve seen your first drop of revenue, you are likely using it as an excuse. Trust me, customers will find problems with your “perfect” product. There isn’t ever a good time to launch.
  • You Are Trying to Do Something New – Find somebody who is making a lot of money. Figure out if you like that and if you can do a little better or offer something a little different. COPY THEM. Do it better. Bring it. Hustle. Make money. Stop trying to figure out a damn idea. There are enough already. In general we copy about 80% of our “new ideas” form existing businesses in the market place and tweak about 20% of the product or value proposition. Once you have built up domain experience and are pumped up with cash you’ve pulled from the market, you’ll be in a much better position to make meaningful innovations and afford the expense of doing so.
  • You Are Looking for Answers From Somebody Else – You might be able to find them but often they come packaged in a job or an expensive coaching course. I’m totally cool with courses, and they can be very helpful, but they aren’t going to solve the fundamental issue: you need to start developing your own unique vision. Nobody Ever Knew How to Get Started, they just did. I’m able to write posts like this because I did something I knew nothing about, against the advice of everyone I trusted, and I just did it. At the time, one of my business mentors told me my move to become a location independent web guy would be a “career killer.” At the time I didn’t think that was an endorsement (to say the least!), but now I can’t think of a better reason to get started :)

Hey party people, want to hear my perspective on something? (Are you crazy!!!?) Let me know in the comments. Also: what’s holding you back in your business? For me: lack of focus. I’ve taken on too many FUN non-revenue generating projects. At least it meets the rubric: “If it isn’t fun and doesn’t make you money, don’t do it.” -Richard Branson (methinks) via Adam Carolla.

I love to be a contrarian, but Bali is pretty much all its cracked up to be.