The Three-Word Business Start-Up Strategy
When you start a business the Carefree way …
It’s a lot easier …
It’s a lot cheaper …
It’ll take less time …
And you can expect to make money faster …
It all comes down to an extremely simple start-up strategy I learned from Michael Masterson:
Ready, Fire, Aim.
According to Michael …
“To start and grow a small business you must develop a pragmatic, action-oriented mentality. Rather than spend too much time and money refining theoretical ideas, you develop a prototype quickly and then see if the market will buy it.
“For every business that fails because of poor planning there are a dozen that never get off the ground because of too much planning.”
Jack Panzarella was an entrepreneur who embraced this philosophy. And although he started a more traditional brick-and-mortar business, I’d like to share his story because it’s a great example of Ready, Fire, Aim in action.
A car enthusiast, Jack was inspired in the early ‘90s to create neon lights that attached to the underside of cars. He managed to put together a few hundred bucks to build a prototype, which he put on his car. He didn’t invest any money in inventory or setting up shop somewhere – he was a high school dropout with no money. He wanted to see if people would buy his creation first.
Working from home, he started calling custom car shops. And he went to car shows in his area. Based on comments he got, he tweaked the lights and the price until he found the sweet spot.
But even then, he didn’t call up a manufacturer to start pumping out neon car kits. He would build the kits one at a time when he got a deposit from a customer.
Only when the number of orders kept growing, and he couldn’t keep up on his own, did he order inventory. Today, Jack’s company (Jack himself retired in 2006) is the industry leader and makes millions per year.
And it all started with an idea and his focus on trying to sell it before he did anything else.
Like most of us, Jack didn’t have the luxury of a huge start-up budget. He wasn’t willing to risk everything on an untested idea. But he had the desire to work for himself.
That’s why Ready, Fire, Aim is so powerful for first-time entrepreneurs. It’s a nearly risk-free way to test the waters with your business ideas.
So let’s break it down into its three parts …
First you get Ready.
What will you sell?
At this point, you don’t need business cards or a logo. Or to be an expert web designer or know Internet marketing strategy inside and out. Don’t consult an attorney about registering with the state. Or an accountant about your tax situation.
Truth is, you don’t need any of those things to start a business. (Most you never will, actually.) They’ll just bog you down.
A Carefree Business is all about keeping things simple. So all you need is an idea for a product, something you have a hunch will sell. Because you’re selling information online, the whole process of product creation and even marketing is a snap thanks to all the easy-to-use tools out there.
(I’ll give you some action steps to get you Ready in a moment.)
That brings us to Fire.
At the Fire stage, you’ve turned your idea into a simple product that you didn’t spend much time or money to create. The goal is to see if it will sell before you invest any more time or money.
So you direct most of your effort into trying to sell it. You try advertising in different media, testing ad copy (check out this article for an outline of copywriting) and prices, change the look and feel of the product … until you find something that works. Be creative with your testing.
And don’t worry if you aren’t sure how to do this yet. It’s my favorite part of the whole process, so I’ll be giving you plenty of tips on how to do it quickly, inexpensively, and effectively.
And if it doesn’t work, you try another idea. Because your investment was very small – no harm. Failure in this case is a good thing. Now you know what doesn’t work and can narrow down to what does. The key is to accelerate that failure so you can move quickly to success.
When you know how to sell that initial product, you’re ready to Aim.
After reviewing the results of the Fire step, you perfect the product and the advertising.
You keep selling your first product, gradually introducing other products in the same area. Before you know it, your Carefree Business will be off and running, and growing quickly.
So now … back to …
The First Step to Getting Your Carefree Business Ready
Getting Ready is the foundation of your Carefree Business.
First, you need an idea.
You may already have a “dream” business you’ve built in your mind.
But if you don’t, that’s okay. Spend some time today thinking about your passions and hobbies, things you’re interested in. Pick one.
When considering the idea for your business, you should have a good feeling that it could sell.
In the next essay in this series, I’ll show you how to get that business idea Ready enough to test in the marketplace quickly and inexpensively.
Later on, we’ll tackle how to Fire and Aim your Carefree Business, which will turn that idea into a full-fledged business.
For now, start coming up with those Carefree Business ideas. When you have narrowed it down to one, I invite you to share it with me here in the comments, or if you’d prefer to keep it under wraps, email me at email@example.com.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »