How do you come up with that killer business idea?
Rob Percival was a maths teacher who did a bit of coding on the side, building websites and dabbling in being an entrepreneur.
Over a period of eight years he created a few businesses that didn’t work (Homesexchange.org anyone?) and two businesses that between them now bring in £200,000 a year (although some sources put it at closer to $1m). Most of the growth has happened in the last two years. The two successful businesses are EcoWebHosting and Rob’s on-line training courses for Udemy which have been bought by over 250,000 people.
Rob is delightfully open about everything he’s learned along the way – good and bad – and has put together these six lessons that can can be applied by anyone who is looking for that breakthrough idea:
Lesson #1. Build something people want
Seems obvious but a lot of people throw marketing money at something they think people “should” want instead of really testing an idea to see if anyone will buy it. It’s turning the usual business model on its head and asking “How many people want this?” instead of “How much money will this make?” See what Paul Graham of Y Combinator has to say about this.
Lesson #2 Automate everything
(specifics depend on the type of business – read Tim Ferriss and The 4 Hour Workweek for more on this)
Holy Grail: Create recurring revenue!
- Use text expansion – save typing the same phrases over and over
- Set up FAQs and a help section on your website to reduce queries
- Allow customers to do as much as possible for themselves on your website
- Outsource repeated tasks
- Use IFTTT (If This Then That Workflow app)
- Learn to code – even a little bit can save a lot of time! (I learned HTML in 1990 but I’m not sure that counts!)
Lesson #3 Talk about everything, especially money
- Be open and honest
Two ways to ensure success: become the best at one specific thing OR become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.
- Get a mentor (Yeay! – I didn’t pay him to say this!)
- Join a MasterMind Group (or this!)
- Find someone who does something similar and get together to compare notes
- Spend at least 2 hours a week just thinking about your business
- Read Rich Dad Poor Dad and understand the difference between being self employed (you own a job) and owning a business (you own a system).
Lesson #4 Create recurring revenue and systematise your business
- Transform the business so it’s not about you.
Think of ONE thing, right now, that you could systematise in your business.
- Find a way for people to pay a small amount of money regularly, over a long period of time.
- Choose related products so that you can sell more things to the same people. (Again, I didn’t pay Rob to say this but it’s always cheaper to sell more to existing customers than to spend time and money acquiring new ones.)
Lesson #5 Don’t rush to take on employees.
When you try to replace yourself you’ll need more people than you think. (But do it anyway).
Plans are useless but planning is indispensable.
We overestimate what we can do in a day but underestimate what we can do in a year.
Lesson #6 Begin with the end in mind
What would you do if you had £10m in the bank? What would your ideal life be like? Work towards that now.
Persist! It took Rob eight years to come up with an idea that worked.
If you’re planning to make changes in your life or your business contact me to get a free lesson on how to Work Smart, Not Hard!