June 18, 2012

The Six-Step Plan to Establish a New Income

Most people want at least one of these things:

a) more freedom

b) more money

Whether you want to quit your job as soon as possible or just establish an additional source of income to have more freedom, you have to take specific action. This post will show you how.

1. First, Stop Killing the Dream

There’s no hidden secret to establishing your own security through additional income. People who work at Google or Microsoft earn six-figure incomes, but sometimes get stuck on the basics of making money on their own.

Others focus on failure, with the mistaken belief that failure is destiny. Just because someone else fails or gives up doesn’t mean you will.

The dream of working on your own terms is real. Don’t kill it! Stop reality-checking your life.

I’ve been earning a living online for 14 years now (yes, I’m old). I receive emails every day from people making the leap to creative self-employment or otherwise earning a good side income.

There’s no get-rich-without-work plan, but there is also no shortage of ways to get paid by adding value to the world. Let’s consider one of them.

Step 2. Make a Plan By Focusing on What You’re Good At

You begin by thinking about what you’re good and what you like to do. You may think you’re not good at anything people will pay for, or that you have no marketable skills. Not true!

A key principle of skill transformation is that if you’re good at one thing, you’re probably good at something else.

Teacher: Good at communication, crowd management, lesson planning

Engineer: Good at methodical thinking, problem-solving

Bookkeeper: Good at attention to detail, figuring out systems

If you’re not sure what you’re good at, think about the questions that people frequently ask you. Is there something people always come to you for because you’re the expert?

Not everything that you’re good at and excited about can become a business model—but something can. This is why you need to find convergence between those skills and passions, and what other people also value. Spend as much time as you need figuring out this part; it will be the foundation for everything else.

Step 3: Create an Offer

Next, you need to take your idea and turn it into an offer that prospective customers can evaluate. Wait, where are the other steps?

There aren’t any. You can skip these unnecessary actions:

  • Create a business plan that no one will ever read
  • Beg the bank (or your family and friends) for money
  • Run up debt on your credit card
  • Recruit investors
  • Devise an exit plan

Become an Instant Consultant. Yeah, you can do this now. Stop waiting for someone to give you permission; there’s no need to wait.

Step 4: Get Your Offer Out to the World (ASAP!)

A product launch can be a big deal, but if you’re just doing this for the first time, you have to start somewhere. You start with a very basic website (get a free one from WordPress) and a PayPal account to accept payments.

As soon as possible, get your first sale. In the course of writing The $100 Startup, I heard over and over that the first sale was critical. “Once the first sale came in, I knew I’d succeed,” someone said. “It may not have been completely rational, but that single sale motivated me to take the business much more seriously.”

“I was doing a live presentation and opened the shopping cart for our first product launch,” someone else said. “I saw orders coming in and literally said out loud, ‘Yes, this is it!’ It was huge for my momentum at the time.”

On book tour I’ve been hearing more stories like these at every stop. Lesson: get the first sale.

When you’re ready to do a real product launch, the post at the link contains a number of tips. Probably the most important are:

1. Prepare people in advance. (Let them know when it’s coming and why they should care.)

2. Tell a good story. (Make it fun and interesting.)

Don’t wait any longer than you absolutely need to get your offer to the world.

Step 5: Tell People About Your Offer

This is also known as hustling. Get the word out!

Sometimes people say, “But I don’t know anyone!” Sure you do. You know all kinds of people; you just need to reach out to them. Here’s a sample message (customize and send this individually, not to every contact in your address book in a mass email…).

Hi [name],

I wanted to quickly let you know about a new project I’m
working on.

It’s called [name of business or project], and the goal is to
[main benefit]. We hope to [big goal, improvement, or idea]. Don’t worry, I haven’t added you to any lists and I won’t be spamming you, but if you like the idea and would like to help
out, here’s what you can do:

[Action Point 1] [Action Point 2]

Thanks again for your time.

Then, spend time every day getting the word out. Make a list: what 5 actions can you take to further spread the news of your project?

Step 6: Figure out what comes next

First things first—get the offer up and running. Make your first sale. Next, the world is open to you.

Things get really fun once you have the first sale, because then you can start tweaking. The biggest question at that point is… where is the next sale? And the next, and the next?

You can then either:

a) Recruit more customers, or

b) Sell more to the same customers

For best results, work on these goals simultaneously by planning several actions for each strategy.

You may also decide on expansion or non-expansion. You may want to do something entirely different. The goal is to get to this point, and then you have options.

That’s it.

Bonus! A Few Guidelines on Your Escape Plan

As your project grows, these additional guidelines may help.

Don’t worry about expenses; increase income instead. The way out of debt is not through clipping coupons, skipping lattes, or buying discount toilet tissue. It is found through increasing your income. Ramp it up!

Never compete on price. Even if you could win, it’s usually the wrong approach. Charge a fair price and compete on value.

Sell at more than one price. Offer customers different versions of your product or service based on their needs or level of commitment. (Visit any Apple store for an example of this practice in action.)

Ignore the competition. Focus instead on how you can improve relative to where you began. Focus on your customers and how you can better serve them. The most important competition is against inertia.

All things considered, some businesses are easier than others. It doesn’t mean they are inherently better, but why make it complicated? Embrace the knowledge economy. Teach people something, reduce a barrier or remove an inefficiency. Fix a problem or remove a pain point.

Value means helping people. Whether in business or life, when you’re not sure what to do next, help someone. (More on this in an upcoming article.)

***

Here at World Domination HQ, we often hear from people making the big leap to self-employment, as well as those who still have day jobs but have successfully established a side income. We are in the dream-building business, not the dream-killing business.

Yeah, you’ll have to work hard. But if you want to make this happen for yourself, you can in fact do so. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

What’s your next step?

Feel free to share it with readers in the comments.

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*This week I’m in CANADA, visiting Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver with the message of The $100 Startup. Tell Tim Horton’s to stock up! Current tour dates are here, and more will be added soon.

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Image: N05

Comment on this article

39 Responses to “The Six-Step Plan to Establish a New Income”

  1. Chris is completely correct with what he says in this article. Just a few weeks back, my partner B and I launched our business and that first sale was the key to realizing that this is not a fantasy. The first sale was to a friend, which in no way negated how meaningful it was. The next big thrill was a sale from a stranger. It’s been snowballing from there and our business is all we can talk about together. It’s happening.

    If anybody is interested, click on my name above to check out our website. We hand-make high quality organic soap, and will soon be offering other products. We’re so thrilled to be able to make something useful and deliver it to appreciate people. I can say without hesitation that following through with this business is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me. Thanks for the inspiration, Chris!

  2. “The most important competition is against inertia.” My new motto. Thanks!

  3. “There’s no get-rich-without-work plan, but there is also no shortage of ways to get paid by adding value to the world.” This statement says it all, Chris. Great advice for those trying to join us in making our own employment. So far, I’m still relatively broke but enjoying the quest and constantly evolving my 2 small business as I continue to discover my hidden strengths.

  4. I cannot thank you enough for this shot of motivation this Monday morning! Momentum & more time seem to be the reoccuring issues with building our business and bringing the necessary attention to our platform. Kerry & I burn the weekend & week night oil with website development, conference calls, FB, hootsuite, you name it….this is a good kick in the pants and as always- appreciate all that you do for us!

  5. Amen! Great list of actionable items that are clear and concise!

  6. What an awesome post, Chris!

    What a funny coincidence the last time you were in town, I went on your blog, and only found out the day before.

    This is the first time I’ve been on your blog in a while, and coincidentally you’re in town tonight! I’ll definitely be there tonight! I look forward to hearing and seeing you in person again.

    I loved the book (btw) and will definitely bring my copy tonight!

  7. this is great!! ‘stop killing the dream’! just what i needed. my next step(s) are getting more stuff up in my shop and start learning how to build a website (totally anti-technical gal, but willing!).

  8. Chris, thanks a lot for posting this. Life is risky and it is risky not to take risk. So anyone who wants to break forth online or offline must be ready to take risks and spend money as well.

    I’m working on amazon kindle publishing and hope all I’ve learnt will help me break forth and become a best seller.

    Sheyi

  9. A really caring committed piece of work. Well done.

  10. “The most important competition is against inertia.”

    This. Yes. Thank you.

  11. I’ve been following this site for quite a while now, well before the first book. I guess I need to focus on #1. This is something you haven’t brought up much before. I mean, it’s been there but something about this article put it in more plain English for me. I’ve been focusing on #2 for so long and coming up empty that it’s becoming easier for me to just give up.

  12. Once again you hit the nail on the head at a very opportune time Chris – who needs a coach?!!! Thanks for your insights

  13. What’s my next step?

    I was let go after working 11 years as a book designer for a large children’s book publishing company. I wasn’t happy there, but I figured, with the economy we are facing, and as a single mom, I needed to keep this job in order to provide for my family (which wasn’t really working anyway–even with a job I wasn’t meeting my expenses well with the income I received.) So this past year I have taken a lot of web design and ePublishing classes and am determined to do a better job at getting my book design (where so far I have 60 examples of my work on coroflot.com/beckstone but aim to create a domain-name website with linked PayPal account like you say to do) and eventually illustration work up on the web. I am determined to start illustrating by 2013, if not sooner. I would like to also resurrect a past passion of mine of creating batik art and having that available for sale or commission. ALL of this is going to happen! My next step? Getting it “out there” and reap the response! Thanks for this inspiring blog!

  14. I love your stripped down approach. As a business consultant I always suggest to startups to avoid business plans unless they are getting outside investors, partners or bank loans. Steps 4 and 5 are so true. Too many small businesses fail because they don’t communicate their great offer.
    These 6 steps make a wonderful mantra in tough economic times.

  15. Thanks! I needed some motivation today. New vegan business coming soon. Woohoo!

  16. Awesome steps of action Chris. I’ve been on a slow and steady online business venture for the past few years. The face to face business is booming but it’s the dream of geographical freedom that keeps me motivated to provide my service in a comprehensive online variation. In the past 2 weeks I’ve made over 1K online and it’s only ramping up every day!

    AONC has been a huge influence. Thanks for your writings and keep the goodness coming my man.

    Patrick

  17. This advice is practical, actionable and sound, but it’s the fear that gets me every time, and I have yet to find a blog post or book that can quell the sense of fear that rises up inside me every time I try to think bigger. The good news is, I keep thinking and keep trying anyway.

  18. Great post, Chris. The comments remind me of the line from the famous Marianne Williamson poem, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure”. That fear of success sure is a kicker…

  19. Thanks for the simplification (again) with your key steps. The golden nuggets (for me) are in your bonus list… between up-levelling my company’s offerings, and what I provide others through my writing, I find it mostly comes down to values propositions. Rock on.

  20. Ironically, a lot of people when starting out have trouble with the idea of monetizing skills that they’ve already been paid to do for years and years. The difference is that they’re no longer on autopilot, receiving a regular paycheck, and now have to have the confidence to continually go out there and keep selling themselves, versus selling themselves one time in the initial interview. And when you’re in a full time job, you’re not paying attention to the competition, because in many cases your role is specific to you. But being in business for yourself is a whole other ball game. But I like what Chris said about not comparing yourself to the competition (outside of basic strategy). Price what’s fair in market value, what you think you’re worth. Really great advice!

  21. Awesome! Thank you Chris!

  22. “Stop reality-checking your life.”

    Reminds me of something the guys from 37signals said: The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse.

    Great post, great summary of your ideas from $100 Startup. For those who like this post but haven’t yet read the book, I highly recommend the book.

  23. After reading this article, I stopped the procrastination and just did it. I took your sample email and sent it out to some personal contacts today and have been getting some great feedback already. Thanks (as always) for the push to get moving even though everything is not perfectly in place yet.

  24. Great post as always Chris! We all like to complicate the launch but these simple steps cut to the core of what needs to be done. I would add one additional step. Validation. That is essentially accomplished by getting the first sale (as you mention). However, I think its important to make the distinction that people should not spend a lot of time, money, energy building a product until they have validated the demand (i.e. know someone will buy it). That is a common mistake. Certainly, that’s not as much of an issue if you just open the door as a consultant, freelancer, or service business.

  25. June 18, 2012

    chrisbianchisays

    Another insightful article. I’ve had your site bookmarked for a while as it can be hard to find other people with the same mindset.

  26. I’m reading thru your book & taking notes for a review on my bloggy-blog. Looks like I should have waited — this article just about summarizes the first 5 chapters! Awesome “cliff notes” version. Your book is so jam-packed with good stuff, I was having a hard time narrowing down the succinct points, but this puts it all in plain bullet point. Thanks! :)

  27. Thank you so much for this article. I’ve been reality-checking myself lately and the initial excitement and motivation to set up my own business were waning. Even though everyone I spoke to about the idea said it was good and would work, I was subconsciously setting myself up for failure. But now, I’m going to figure out a way to fight this and my inertia too. Thank you again for the book and this article.

  28. This post couldn’t have been more timely as I begin the launch of my freelance career (for real this time). I’ve been reading the $100 Startup and I’m learning a ton. I have so many ideas and plans and I’ve been pushing myself harder than usual to stay motivated and keep working in order to make this happen. It feels good to go to bed at night one step closer to having my dream fulfilled and even more so to know that I did it on my own.

  29. Well – You got me. I’ve been doing traffic school with Corbett, and realizing that while my site is a labor of love – and I’ll continue it – its not going to free me, and frankly, it isn’t all that helpful for anyone. Ouch. So today, I followed my passion – the real one, not the one I think I should follow. Chose my name, bought my domain, outlined 10 posts and worked on a logo. My mini-manifesto was a neon sign. I was refusing to pull the blinds, but I wouldn’t put on my shoes and go see what all the fuss was about either! Clearly this was all in my head waiting for me – I just wasn’t listening. Thanks Chris! Your post came just when it should have, and I’m on my way!

  30. June 18, 2012

    Tyler Carter

    I look forward to your follow up, as I’m most interested in helping people first, and helping them to help me second.

  31. Thanks, you the MIND yes I said Mind anywho I have no money,credit but I will open my FlashBack HotDog Pad Sumhow and ‘o’ yeah my website is coming loaded with Home and Personal Security products thanks Mind

  32. I love your message about getting started right away, not waiting for the perfect moment. It’s easy to be always be “thinking about” that next thing and waiting for the stars to align. Also, there is the “God complex” that convinces us we can plan our way to a sure success, though the market is a lot more complex than any of us can know in advance!

  33. I’m going to compare this article to a good back rub… I needed it and the more I read it the better it felt.

    First off, I am going to start working on ways I can get paid with my services. Right now this will likely mean affiliate marketing (with awesome product that provide genuine value).

    Next, I am also going to really hone in on my network and use almost your exact template to reach out to some people and spread the word. As you have said in a previous post (I think… or maybe it was your book) friends of friends are super powerful to have in your small army.

  34. After too many years I took the plunge and set up my own business in the IT recruitment sector three months ago and though it’s been a slow start I have had some early success. However, I’ve felt a little frustrated in the last couple of weeks so the advice you’ve posted here has helped remind me of a few points I need to reconsider.

    I wholly agree with the unnecessary actions you’ve mentioned in Point 3. Looking back, I think I wasted considerable time & energy on such things that I now realise were peripheral to what my business needed at the very beginning. Fortunately, I’ve realised this pretty early on and can now concentrate on what is really important.

    Thanks for the continued flow of advice and information, Chris.

  35. My next step is working hard on the “getting the word out” part…I do some of that, but not nearly enough. Somehow I am still shy about telling strangers (esp. the press!) what I do and how I can help them (I’m an accessories designer, a sewer, and a sewing teacher), and even though I KNOW I need to get over that, sometimes actually doing it is still hard. Thanks for the kick in the pants. :)

  36. I’ve “stopped killing the dream” at long last and am now ready to dive into all the next steps. This is a perfect blueprint. Thank you!

  37. I’ve figured out 3 different ways to help people – I even have one website built already – but I haven’t figured out what my offer/product should be yet. I’ve dismissed the usual methods such as turning it into a book or subscription business and can’t come up with any other ideas for a sell-able product. Does anyone else struggle with having the idea for content but not knowing what product to sell? Any thoughts?

  38. There’s a lot of hype going around about the “retire off of a simple start-up method”. I speak with friends who are obsessed with the idea of starting an “automated” online business so that they can work very little, or even not at all (with the help of virtual assistance) and live on a beach somewhere sipping mai tais. Needless to say, they are still unhappy in their current lives and have yet to launch that business.

    You really hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that:

    “there’s no get-rich-without-work plan, but there is also no shortage of ways to get paid by adding value to the world.”

    I think their biggest problem is that their motivations are self-serving and that they are looking for that get rich with little work plan. They also rarely consider how they can be of service to others. They think about themselves and how they can retire asap instead of discovering one of the endless ways to add real value to the world.

    Great post Chris! At the end of the day, the six steps you mention here is really all it takes… Especially when combined with being in service and adding value to the lives of others.

  39. @ Joe from Maple Row, you website is beautiful and your soaps look great. Congratulations. I wish I was located in the US as I’d order from you.

    As for a business plan, that was my stumbling point earlier in the summer, as I was trying to put together a business plan for bank managers, so that I could try to open a business bank account with a poor credit rating.

    Since then I’ve made my company dormant and switched to sole trader, I will be using my personal bank account and PayPal, and that’s all to come after I’ve recovered from this health glitch and an upcoming house move. The only plan I will be writing is my basic roadmap, which is for my eyes only.

    Cheers.

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