Want to call yourself an entrepreneur? Than sell something.
This is a guide to making your first sale on a good or service in one day.
Most people think starting a business is a major risk. They consider it to be a HUGE decision that requires months of planning and significant upfront investment.
Well, that sounds like it would suck to me.
I prefer to not do things that suck, therefore I'm not interested in starting businesses like that. I like to start businesses the simple way that requires no real risk and less than an hour of planning.
The strategies outlined below are of course specific to certain types of ventures, but the principles behind them are solid and can be applied broadly.
I don't like to write much fluff (not too good at it), so let me just get right into sharing my approach to starting a service business or launching a product with minimal effort and risk.
I will walk you through two examples that have specifically worked for me:
SELLING A SERVICE OFFLINE
So, this is a real life, creating a business in your community type of thing.
Most people who decide to do something like this (probably 90 percent or more) will spend weeks or months planning everything out to the T, and will then either:
Bail on their plan at some point and revert back to what they were doing before.
Dump a bunch of money into going forward with their new business, to which 50% of them fail in the first year and most will have failed by the end of the second.
Here is how this would look in real life:
Johnny wants to build websites as a side business. He is a self-taught and self-proclaimed computer nerd with the skills necessary to build a good quality small-business website in about 10-20 hours. One night, while sitting at home thinking about how much he hates his current job, he gets out his calculator and decides he could charge $1000 for a website and could build about 2 per week. So, $2000 per week for about 48 weeks per year (because of course - he'll take a month off because he's his own boss) leaves him with a $96,000 per year salary.
Yeeee HAW! Johnny sees the light! Why wasn't he smart enough to see this sooner?? He's going to be RICH!!!
So, yeah - sitting there eating his microwave dinner and watching mad men, he decides to start a business.
The next day after work, buzzing with excitement, Johnny decides his first step will be to go to the bookstore and buy some books about starting a business. After purchasing and reading the wonderful books The Personal MBA and Book Yourself Solid, he feels like he has a grasp on what it will take to get his business launched. He’ll need smart marketing materials, a professional appearance, business mentors, and strong testimonials.
Still thinking that he'll soon be rolling in the big bucks, he spares no cost in purchasing some high-gloss business cards, a new desk chair, and some super amazing new accounting software. He continues this preparation trend for the next few weeks, building himself an amazing websites, and stocking it with helpful articles for his clients. Adding a bunch of other cool services to his offerings (more potential $$$). Securing his new Twitter handle and launching a Facebook page, etc, etc, etc. The trend continues, on and on, forever and ever. You get the point.
It's at this point that Johnny will either be burnt out or will have gotten excited about a new idea and be on to something different. Or else, he will realize that he needs to actually go out and SELL SOME WEBSITES, at which point his balls shrivel up with fear, and he runs for the hills. Or...ideally, the poor soul actually gets lucky and starts drumming up some business and does pretty good for himself.
I hope to Jesus that its the last one. I hope he succeeds, I really do - but most people don't. Their sense of fear or else life's distraction usually get in the way.
But I do things differently.
I think if you are going to start a business, you can avoid distraction, and mitigate the momentum of fear by getting it over and done with in a day.
Here is what I would do if I was Johnny:
For example, here's one I did a couple years ago selling email marketing services to restaurants:
One of two things will usually happen.
1. something - you will get a few calls over the next couple days or months, and your business will slowly blossom from there.
2. nothing - no calls, no $2000/week, no freedom
If something happens, go with it. See how you enjoy the industry. Take on clients slowly at first and begin to organically build the components and systems of your business. Once systems are in place, then you can be growth focused.
If nothing happens, interpret it. Learn from it. If you think you may still have a shot, go pass out 100 more flyers. Or take the information you gathered from talking with business owners, and maybe decide to shift gears and offer them different solutions to match their true needs.
See, it really is a win-win. And it can all be done in a day or two.
Even if you strike out with 4 or 5 ideas in a row, eventually one will take and you will land your first client. Eventually, and still with just a few days effort, you will have a legit business on your hands.
Give it a try. If you have any questions about this process, ask in the comments.
SELLING A PRODUCT ONLINE
I went into a whole big parable schpeel on that first one and I'm too lazy to re-create that effort. Trust me when I say that most people who set out to sell products online (or even offline), spend weeks or longer planning, building, and often times trying to figure out how to re-create the wheel.
STOP WORKING SO GODDAMN HARD!!! Your making me feel tired...
He's a simple, and very specific way to sell your first product online:
Rinse and repeat this cycle a few times every month, and eventually you will be selling products online. I guarantee it!
I did this exact process, and now every day or two I sell an 11" x 17" print for $21.50. It costs me $6 to print, ship, and package each print, so each sale results in $15.50 profit.
The original print took me 3 hours to design, and now it will be available to sell for the rest of my life. So long as my printing and shipping stay highly automated - those original 3 hours might turn into thousands of dollars over the course of my lifetime.
It really is that simple. And this really works. No big upfront costs. No months of planning. No major feel like a piece-of-shit failure.
I became heavily inspired to shift my role in life to creating and building things after reading the book Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. So, to pass on the inspiration, I will purchase a copy of the book (you can pick kindle or print) to the person who leaves my favorite comment before MARCH 1st. On March 1st I will announce the winner right here and tell you how to collect.
UPDATE: Mathew, your comment was selected as the winning comment. Contact me via email (nddodson at gmail) to get your copy of Austins book.
Top photo is the "slow house burger" from when I opened an underground restaurant in 2010.
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Checkout http://thebillionairesbrain.com - a nice set of business book summaries every success minded individual MUST OWN!
more people like you are needed in this world ,,,simple ideas that work instead of complictaed ones that dont ,,,,keep up the good work
Having fallen into Johnny's trap (but in the form of spending too much time getting my website "just right") I love your 1-simple-flier idea. Totally going to steal that. Thanks for the butt-kicking I needed this morning!
Hey Nate, really great post here. I would love to know more about your underground restaurant. I've never heard of such a thing but I've always had an interest in opening a small diner or something along those lines. Also, would love to hear more about your Etsy strategy. I've sold a few things here and there on it, but not had a whole lot of long term success (I make custom boomerangs).
Hi Jeff, thanks for stopping by! I'll add "How to Start an Underground Restaurant" to the next Blog Post Survey, so be sure to stick around and vote for what you want to read - its a really fascinating and exciting venture and lots of people are making a full time living at it. Its also a great way to build connections and community.
I'll get more into my Etsy strategy in a later post as well. I'm fairly new at the game, but I see it as a pretty solid opportunity to easily put out a long term asset that's systemized, scale-able, and will pay out regularly.
Your possessions own you, you don’t own them. Getting rid of all the crap that is cluttering your life and mind brings freedom. The major burdens of cleaning, maintenance, moving, and purchasing begin to fade.
Are you ready? Because it’s time. Time for you to become a minimalist.
It's time to take charge of this important mission and decide on a strategy for getting rid of your stuff. Here are 18 different strategies/ideas you can employ to begin getting rid of your stuff right now:
Djuna secured their favorite, private, high-backed booth in the empty afternoon dining room and ordered a Manhattan up. She didn’t order for Yvonne, who rarely drank before work. Besides, with Yvonne there were always two choices: most of the time, Kentucky whiskey, Maker’s Mark usually, neat, water back; but when savoring life, Remy warm in a snifter.
Fishing a cigarette from her purse, Djuna glanced out the window and noticed the rain had stopped. Sun shining through dark clouds made new spring leaves glow like a moment from the first days of the world. If only life could change as quickly as sun emerging and you could run free of a million small decisions that had led you to become a person you had never envisioned and didn’t particularly like. Djuna figured you could do that, leave everything and move to a place where you knew not a soul, had no entanglements, no expectations, where you could invent yourself anew. It was delicious thinking, which brought an unaccustomed moment of peace. But she sensed Yvonne’s presence - they had a spooky connection that way - and turning, saw her ordering from the bar, her short black Open Door skirt hidden by the huge, ugly, gray thrift store sweater she wore to hide herself. She made her way to Djuna’s table, carrying both a double whiskey and a water back in her left hand. She kissed Djuna lightly on the lips (a thing that did not quite satisfy) and slid into the booth with a grace that Djuna envied. Yvonne said, “Funny you should call. I was thinking of giving you a Bangs. What’s happening?”
“Paul.” Djuna spread her hands wide. “I can’t decide. At least with Johnny, I know what I’m getting. I’m twenty-five. What would I do with a nineteen year old, a cook of all things?”