We’re continuing online business month with an interview with Corbett Barr on how to build a business
Andrew and our original co-host Matt met through Fizzle. Fizzle is a community and video training library for entrepreneurs. There are 40 courses in the library that teach people how to build an online business and get it up and running.
Fizzle encourages you to create something you’re proud of through hard work and persistence. The site isn’t full of “20 Amazing hacks to start a business overnight and become a billionaire” content. It offers long-term advice that will help people grow a business.
Is Anyone Out There?
Why do some sites take off and others languish in obscurity? Getting what you do in front of people is as important, maybe more important, than what you create. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? You want your tree to be heard.
You need other people to help you get heard. Work at building relationships with the rising stars in your field. Corbett rattled off a list of who’s who in the online business space, all of whom he knew before they really blew up. Join forums, go to networking events and connect with as many people as you can.
Relationships matter. Especially when you feel like you’re shouting into the void. The people in your day to day life may not understand why you’re devoting so much time and energy to something that seems to be going nowhere.
The like-minded you people do understand and can help keep you aloft when you want to give up and everyone else is discouraging you from continuing.
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The Magic Formula
Entrepreneurship and personal finance have a lot of parallels. The magic formula for growing wealth is really not that magical. Make more money than you spend and invest your money. Viola, wealth! It’s not easy but it is simple.
Having a successful business has a magic formula too. Identify a group of people who have a need that is not being filled and find a way to fill it that those people will pay money for. Again, not easy but simple.
Even if you think the area you want to jump into is saturated, there is always room for one more. There are tons of cooking blogs. There are tons of vegan cooking blogs. So how could you stand out in that space?
Thug Kitchen separated themselves from the pack with lots and lots of swearing. It took two things that can really take themselves too seriously, cooking and veganism, and made them funny and naughty.
Just like LMM, you can approach a serious subject in a non-serious, entertaining way. I’m Paleo but I still read Thug Kitchen and occasionally even cook from it because it’s funny and the recipes are good. I just top them with a steak.
It might sound ridiculous to you but that site has spun into three cookbooks one of which has been a New York Times Best Seller. They were able to stand out in a very crowded space.
Putting something of yourself into your work can help you stand apart. For LMM that was Andrew drinking and swearing during the pod. I know him in real life and how he acts on the pod is how is in real life. The duo behind Thug Kitchen write how they speak when they’re with friends.
Quality Not Quantity
Most of us starting an online business are going to do it while we work a regular job and we have plenty of other things that need our attention too like friends and family. That can be an advantage.
When we only have a limited amount of time to spend on something, we are more likely to focus and work on the things that really matter.
If you have two hours a day to spend on your project, you are not going to spend it pouring over WordPress templates looking for the perfect one. You’ll just pick one and instead spend time writing or finding your first customer. Spend your time doing what will give you the biggest return.
Viable Minimum Product
The VMP theory means for Cripe’s sake, get something out the door! Quit tweaking it, quit fiddling with it, just get something out there in front of people. Your customers don’t care how much time you spent on something, they care if it’s good.
That’s not to say you don’t do some research. Effort doesn’t guarantee the outcome. You can spend years working on something but if no one wants it, needs it, or is willing to pay for it, you’re not going to succeed.
Get your ideas in front of people you think need what you offer. Get their feedback and listen to it. Then push your product out based on that feedback. Because your product was VMP, your audience will give you the feedback you need to do the kind of tinkering you need in order to make it succeed. Ten years of theorizing isn’t worth one month of feedback from customers.
A Numbers Game
Last week we talked about the equal-odds rule. The more work you push out, the better odds that something will be successful. Corbett encourages bloggers to make it to 100 posts. If you write 100 things, odds are, something is bound to strike a cord and get more eyeballs on your site.
I write blogs. One hundred sounds like a lot but I just counted how many posts I have written for LMM since I started in April of 2014 and including this one, it’s 103. I have probably written half that many of various other sites.
I now make a full-time living blogging. I had no previous writing experience prior to LMM. If I can do it, there is no reason you can’t do it too.
Don’t Go it Alone
Some people hesitate to bring other people on board when they’re trying to build a business. Maybe because they want all the glory for themselves, maybe they don’t work well with others, or maybe they want to keep all the hypothetical profits for themselves. But isn’t it better to own 50% of a watermelon than 100% of a grape?
Give up some ownership for the fresh perspective a partner can provide not to mention the additional contacts and perhaps funding. That’s one of Fizzle’s big strong points. It brings people together to work on a project.
As we mentioned, it’s how Andrew met Matt and Thomas and a lot of other people who helped to propel LMM forward.
Having other people involved can help keep you accountable. The people in your day to day life may encourage you to throw in the towel and be relieved when you do because they don’t understand what you’re doing, they just see that you’re spending a lot of time and effort on something that is taking your time away from them.
Someone who has a stake in the project is not going to be so happy to see you walk away. They will keep you accountable and can give you the encouragement to keep going when you’d rather quit.
Don’t Quit Your Job
While LMM and Fizzle want to encourage you to build a business, neither of us advocate quitting your job to do it. There is a lot of myth and romance around the sink or swim aspect of quitting and being forced to make it work. It doesn’t always work though no matter how hard you work.
You don’t have to start from scratch. Get a job in the space you want to start a business in. You can learn what worked and what didn’t without putting your own money on the line. It’s also a good way to meet someone you may want to partner with in the future which means you can spread the risk.
Find Those Hours
One of two hours a day for one year spent building a business and we think most people can bring in $1,000 a month. Find those hours, work with focus, write 100 things or get a VMP out the door. No matter what you do, get out there and create epic shit.