How to start a business in a month

Two schools of action.

Last month, I created a digital course in 5 weeks, from idea to delivery.
Within literally days, I got direct feedback, accomplishment, and (most importantly) sales.

Speed is what makes a difference.

Imagine losing 4lb in a week. Success — you’re doing something right.
Now imagine losing 4lb in 10 years. Failure—you’re doing something wrong.

When it comes to starting a business or launching a product, fear, procrastination, and lack of information all get in the way, making you work on the wrong things. I learnt the hard way, launching products that bombed over and over again for a whole year in 2015.

Here are two ways to start a business or launch a product, fast.
Choose wisely.

#1 — The Wantrepreneur way

The wantrepreneur way focuses on a sense of movement and external recognition. Here’s how it goes.

Step #1. The most important step: find a brilliant idea.
All you have to do for this is just come up with one, and believe it’s a great idea. I’m sure you have ideas all the time–just pick one.

Step #2. Start a company.
Go ahead and register your company. Actually, before you do that, spend at least 2–3 days thinking about the company name. Then go ahead and register it.
Technically, you now have a business, so all it took was a couple of days.

Step #3. Register your idea.
Now that you have a company, it’s time to patent your idea. You can do that in your own country, or you can do that internationally.
No one has ever had it before you, and that’s a good sign.

You can also trademark your company name. Do it now.

Step #4. Go ahead and buy business cards.
Either design them yourself and spend a week on it, or hire the best designer and pay them really well. Spend 2 weeks on this.

Step #5. Write all your templates.
Time to create your pitchdeck, clients proposal, referral emails, feedback requests, hell — you want to be ready.

Step #6. Set up all of your social media.
Instagram, Snapchat, don’t forget Musically…set them all up, like a real business. Then spend a week about what you are going to post next (though you still have only 3 followers on your new account).

Step #7. Get the perfect website.
Sure, a landing page created on a template would do but…eh, this is a serious business! Spend a couple of days doing it yourself and then realise it will never be good enough. Give up, hire someone to do it for you and spend as much money as you can.

Step #7. Get an office.
Time to get an office space. Possibly in a shared building, so you can tell more people you have a business (surely that will also get you clients eventually).

Step #8. Tell everyone.
Tell all your friends about how you’re now a business owner, and how you finally have a business and they don’t. Don’t forget to post a picture of yourself using #hustle.

The month is over.

#2 — The Entrepreneur way

Now let’s have a look at way number two, the entrepreneur way.
This is focused on a lean sense of making things work fast, and getting feedback about your product and services.

Step #1. Front load all the planning.
You want to understand two things:
What do you personally want to get out of the business?
What would be a success for the business at the end of the month?

For this answer, I’m going to assume that the goal for the business is to become profitable and make a first sale within a month.

Next, work backwards from that goal. What are all the steps that you will need to take to get that one sale?
Start from the end, write them all down, then put them on a timeline for the next month. Make sure you have clear actions and milestones, so that you can measure whether you’re moving in the right direction and at the right speed.

You want to maximise the feedback system to know whether you’re getting results.

Step #2. Find a problem you can solve.
…and a target market you can solve it for.
In this case, the business idea doesn’t come internally. It’s not a brilliant idea just because you had it. It comes from someone else’s existing problem.

Focus on a very specific target market and try to understand what problem they have that you can solve. You might be part of that target market, but don’t just rely on your own experience and intuition. Talk to other people, and really understand their challenges and how they phrase them.

Step #3. Come up with a hit list.
Create a list of people you can contact that fit your target market.
This is easy: just go through your iMessages, Linkedin, Twitter, emails,…

Step #4. Come up with a ton of ideas.
Now you’ve got a problem, how can you solve it? Let’s think of an example, if the problem is, having healthy lunches while working hard in a corner business. Okay, the problem is that, finding healthy lunches while working on a business. What you can do, is you can think okay, “I can do this by creating a visual product that tells them how to prepare a lot of food in advance so they can bring it to the office. Or I can create a delivery system that brings food to your office. Or I can create a restaurant that’s [inaudible 00:07:45] …” Come up with as many ideas as you can, you can use a mind map.

Step #5. Ask your hit list.
Contact your hit list, but don’t ask for a sale directly. Contact them and ask for feedback and ask about THEIR problem.

You can just say, “Hey, I’ve got this idea, it’s for people just like you, can we jump on a call? Can you tell me A, B, about your problem?”
Keep it very specific.

Read between the lines.
If people say, “Ah this is an interesting idea”, it probably belongs to the bin. But if they say “Wow, I need that! That is me!” then you’re onto something.

When I launched my latest course, Own Your Week, I tested the idea on a few people within my target market, and got replies like “Wow, I need this today!” or “That is me!”. I knew I was onto something.

Step #6. Ask your friends for help (not recognition).
Make a list of friends and people you know that might help your business. This could be through skills, money, or introductions. You want to leverage their resources, so you can use less of yours (and scale beyond your 24 hours).

Just let them know about your idea, and ask if they know anyone you can get in touch with to have a chat about your idea. No pressure on anyone.

Step #7. Test your idea(s) and ask for the sale.
Time to get the ultimate feedback. Ask for money.

Go back to the people who expressed interest, and make them a great offer. What you want is to exchange money, and validate that people will pay for your idea.

Step #8. Repeat and iterate.
If you got a sale, great! Repeat the relevant steps, and keep improving your product and your selling technique.

If you didn’t get a sale, great! You saved yourself a ton of time and struggles.
Go back a few steps, and test a different idea.

Step #10. Deliver the product.
You made your first sale, now it’s time to deliver the product.
I once launched a snack product and got 5 sales without any stock.

In the end, I refunded all order to give myself more time to produce the first batch. No one bat an eyelid, and 3 of them bough again once the product was ready.

The point is, the first sale comes first. But if you did make your sale, now it’s time to deliver,and get a great testimonial (and word of mouth).

Step #11. Celebrate.
Wow — you made your first sale!

High five yourself and celebrate with your friends.

Step #12. The technical bits.
Now you can start sorting out the technical bits: register your company, get an office space, get a great website. Just take it slow, and keep growing your company.

This isn’t a clear-cut distinction. Sometimes, you’ll have to do bits from both “styles” of business. But the two methods are very different.

The wantrepreneur focuses on recognition first and…not losing.
The entrepreneur focuses on validation first and…winning (even if that means failing on the way).

By validating your idea, you front load all the risk, planning, and learning, and then everything else can happen faster.

Which will you choose?

– Matt

PS: too busy to start your next project?
Join my free 10-day course, and find the time to grow your business (and still have a life). Lessons start next Monday.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by + 374,357 people.

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