A Book That Will Change Your Life
This week, I want to share a book that has changed my life, and my perspective on what it means to be an entrepreneur: The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries. I think that it is a great fit for us as entrepreneurs with day jobs, because it is all about not wasting time building products or services that people don’t want. Instead, it outlines a way of doing “validated learning” about what your target market wants by actually talking to them, your potential customers.
A related book, which has been highly recommended to me, is Running Lean by Ash Maurya. I have heard that this book does a great job of laying out the “how to” of the Lean Startup process, so it is next on my reading list!
My overall business strategy
My strategy is strongly influenced by:
Eric Ries’ book: The Lean Startup
Ramit Sethi’s course: Earn 1K On The Side
The Copyblogger Media course: Teaching Sells
(At the time this podcast was recorded, neither of the above courses were open for immediate enrollment, but the links above provide more information about the courses. They are also not affiliate links.)
And my overall strategy is:
Start by offering my services to individual people or businesses as a freelancer (or coach/consultant), in order to start generating income quickly, with little monetary investment needed.
Then take what I learn from helping individuals, and turn that knowledge into e-books, courses, group coaching programs, and so on. I plan to create a variety of tiers of products and services that people can buy.
I have seen that this “tiered access” type of business model, where customers pay increasing amounts of money for greater access to you, works for a lot of experts. I give the example of Pam Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation.
Once I have products and services to offer that allow me to make enough money per customer, I plan to use my expertise in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to grow my business more quickly. If you make enough money in sales to more than offset your cost in advertising, PPC can be a way to grow your business very quickly.
My pivot: I am now offering freelance PPC services!
My true mission is to help entrepreneurs like you to get your businesses over the hump. I realized that I will have a much easier time doing that by using my existing expertise in PPC, rather than trying to get hired as a newbie business coach. So, I have now started my own PPC freelancing business to do this.
Following the strategy that I outlined above, offering my services as a freelancer is just the start of my plan. If the market wants it, I will also create training products and coaching programs to help you manage your own PPC advertising campaigns. I plan to continue my PPC freelancing and consulting at higher and higher rates, as I learn how to provide even greater value to my clients, and my services are in greater demand.
In addition, since my real mission is to help entrepreneurs have their businesses take off, I will be looking for ways to help my clients that go beyond just PPC. If I can use my knowledge to help clients build better sales funnels, make effective back-end offers, or do anything else to take their businesses to the next level, I will actively be looking to do that. Helping with PPC is just an obvious way to get my foot in the door, so that I can help my clients in a bigger way.
You may want to consider: What skills can you use to get your foot in the door?
What choices have I already made in my business?
My initial goal is to make $1,000 from my freelancing business by August 31, 2012, one month from the recording date.
My ideal target market is entrepreneurs who are selling information products online…but only really awesome products that actually help people! My truly ideal client already has an existing PPC campaign, since this demonstrates that they are willing and able to spend money on PPC. However, I would like to help any entrepreneur who is out to help people and who is in a position to use PPC to take his or her business to the next level.
I will be refining my offer as I talk to my target market. However, I expect that I will need to start by offering a small upfront fee, because I don’t expect my clients to have a lot of money to spend on PPC. As a result, I will need to find a minimum PPC campaign build-out that I can provide that will still enable us to get enough data to learn whether PPC will work for that particular client’s goals.
What are my next steps
I will generate at least 50 leads per week by finding entrepreneurs selling awesome products or services online.
I will then send short emails to each of those leads to gauge their interest.
For the qualified leads who show interest, I will follow up with them to give more details on how I can help, and ask to set up a phone conversation to discuss it with them.
During these phone conversations, I will work on building a relationship with the potential client and understanding what they really want. If I see that I can help, I will make a proposal about how I can help, so that they can accept or decline.
For clients who hire me, I will do the work I promised. If the results are good, I will follow up with a proposal about how I can help them in a bigger way, either through PPC or in other ways.
I’ll be reporting on my progress over the next several podcasts.
What I want you to take away:
Freelancing is not the only way to get your business off the ground. However, it is a great way to start earning some money quickly, so that you can pay others to help you and you can start investing in advertising and marketing. In addition, you can use your experience as a freelancer to create e-books, courses, and other information products.
If you want to join me in growing your business through freelancing, I’ve provided some action steps below.
Set a goal that fits the amount of time that you can devote to your freelancing business.
Focus on actively finding leads who are in your target market, ideally visible people who you can find online or in the real world. (Don’t start by building a website, or even a podcast. These are not active or direct enough methods to learn what is working or not working in our sales funnel.)
Send short emails to these leads to gauge their interest.
Follow up by phone with those who show interest.
In those phone conversations, build relationships, learn what they need, and offer your services (for pay!) if you can help.
Even if you don’t get a client, you will learn more about what your target market wants, which will help you to refine your offer.