Category Archives: Business Ideas

Cool ass trick to find people talking about your niche

Cool ass tip I just learned for finding people ACTIVELY talking about your niche/product/whatev:

1.) Google a word or subject. Like “wantrepreneur”.
2.) Under “More” in Google search bar, select “Discussions”.
3.) Under “search tools” select “past 24 hours”.

BAM. List of everyone talking about wantrepreneurs in last 24 hours.

You can chime into these discussions, see what they’re saying, use their language for your marketing, get ideas.  Whatever.

Use away.
-Neville

P.S.  Share or “like” this with friends or colleagues.  Extremely powerful research tool.

Sifting for good/bad ideas

Fresh off a trip from Cabo, I went back to Austin, did laundry, packed the exact same clothes, and headed off to our AppSumo Getaway in Seattle:
http://www.appsumo.com/how-to-make-your-first-dollar-seattle-getaway/

Some of the people who came were already running businesses, some were not.

I noticed something while talking to the people who DID NOT have a business going….

There were lots of ideas floating around in their heads (and even written down), but no apparent framework to make sense of those ideas.  

I realized something I accidentally did back in the day, and still to this day, that has helped me immensely: I would write down tooonnsss of ideas, and rank them.

Read that last part?
The part about “ranking them”?

It’s immensely important.  So lemme take you through the simple process I use to find business ideas, product ideas, ways to make money…..

I first am fully aware of this:

“The best way to get a good idea, is to have a lot of ideas!”

I write down a ton of ideas.  Anything.  The point is to get the brain jogging:

  • Bad ideas.
  • Good ideas.
  • Funny ideas.
  • Stupid ideas.
  • Wacky ideas.
  • Ideas that solve problems.
  • Ideas for stuff I personally want.

Just by it’s nature, this list will contain some gold, and some crap.  Mostly crap. But who cares, it’s just a freakin list!!  (usually mine are written somewhere in a notebook).

Now here’s how to sift your list of ideas for gold (in a semi-scientific way):

You rank each idea on a scale from 1 to 5 in several areas:

  1. Easy-ness – How easy would it be to get this going?
  2. Fun – Is this fun for me?
  3. Profit – What’s the potential profit here?

Total up the numbers, and almost instantly….the piece of paper you wrote these down on will turn from a random list of ideas, to a piece of paper telling you which ideas you should move forward with.  

Here’s a ghetto example I made in 2 minutes:

Obviously some ideas will be easier for some than others based on skill/talent.

So in my particular case, this list has shown a book about Kopywriting will be my best bet.  A yogurt stand however, doesn’t seem very fun (although I love GOING to them and pretending my CakeBatter yogurt with 9 pounds of chocolate toppings is “healthy”)!

So this my friend, is a key difference between a regular-ole list of ideas….and a list of ideas which tells you which one to go with.

Now I’m a big pencil/paper kind of guy, but I thought I’d make a cool “Idea Calculator” for you to use.

Simply click on the Google Doc, and save it for yourself.  It’ll auto-calculate your ideas, and tell you when something is promising (usually anything over a “10” is decent):

Here’s your Idea Calculator (save it for yourself in any format you choose to start entering your own):
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuaB65FccS9sdDVZVWU1ZFZYaXdaQVNsMWZPdF8zNmc#gid=0

The point of this is to get you to start ranking your ideas with a number…..so you can spend less time sifting through ideas, and spend more time trying the winners.

Cool huh!?
Neville – Enjoying the awesome Seattle summer weather (and surrounded by 25 nerds in a house)

The entrepreneurial ramp-up period

I’ve done a bunch of these “survey” and “contest” thingies where we offer to help people with their small business ideas or current businesses.

It’s almost a shame only I get to see these results instead of other people…because:

MOST OF THEM ARE STUPID!

That’s right….a bulk of the ideas and running businesses that get submitted …DON’T MAKE MONEY, and doubtfully ever will.

 

BUT….THESE STUPID BUSINESSES ARE VERY VERY IMPORTANT!

Starting any small business or side-gig is kind of like riding a bike (or any skill):

STAGE 1.) You don’t know what the hell you’re doing and you’ll probably fail a couple of times.
STAGE 2.) You start to get the hang of it.
STAGE 3.) After trying many times, you kind of know what to do by now.

Look at any successful business person and there’s a VERY high chance they’ve tried A LOOTTT of things before whatever made them rich.

Here’s just a SAMLL LIST of dumb things I’ve done:

  • Resumite
  • Tried to buy and sell penny stocks
  • Facebook fan website
  • Rave website
  • Rave forum
  • Rave video hosting service
  • Powerwashing houses
  • Painting address numbers on curbs
  • Burning cd’s
  • Fixing computers
  • Selling bottled water
  • WordPress design
  • Website building
  • Adsense websites
  • Blogging
  • 3D printer websites
  • FancyBlog
  • SEO consulting
  • Buying/Selling on ebay and from Surplus stores
  • more….
  • ….and more….
  • ….and more….

That was just junk I could list off my head in a minute!

In fact, I’m always disappointed at my progress.  I feel like after ALLL THHHEE THHINGGSS I’VE TTRRRIIEED I should be a freakin billionaire by now! But like a lot of things, it takes longer than expected and it probably harder than expected.

Every person I’ve met that’s successful has GREAT stories about all the things they’ve tried in the past.  Try asking someone successful this question:

“What other business ideas did you try before you made it big?”

….and I bet you’ll get a lot of cool answers.

 

So if you’ve been trying to get something off the ground once and for all but feel it isn’t that great of an idea……. don’t be afraid to start quick & fail fast with some crappy business idea.

There are methods to help increase your odds of success (like the SumoBusinessBlueprint we did)….

….but JUST STARTING SOMETHING is always a damn-great place to start!

How to profit from hackers

Here’s a quick business idea (more like “consulting”) one of you can run with.

I got this “Pharma Hack” on my WordPress blog a few days ago.  Apparently it doesn’t have any effect on WordPress blogs, except it changes your title tags in your database (so you can’t easily change them) to promote pills…..this is what it did to my search rankings:

Sooooo……apparently NevBlog now sells Viagra :-)

It’s actually not a “hack” but rather a small “exploit”.

ANYHOW, I ended up paying to get it removed (yet it still came back).  I REALLLLLYYY wanted to do a search for “WordPress Pharma Hack” and see a sponsored result saying:

….instead I found nothing.

I had to personally call Chris Pearson who wrote the most detailed post about the pharma hack to get a recommendation for the removal of this brilliant little exploit.

But these large-scale exploits seem like a GREAT opportunity for WordPress junkies to make a bunch of extra money.  If someone charged $200+ to just “take care of this shit” for me….I would’ve GLADDLLLY paid.

-Nev

 

P.S.  In case you’re wondering, I’m currently moving this blog to WPengine  and they’re cleaning it up right now.

Spray Alcohol Experiment

Browsing the news I saw this article about a mouth-spray alcohol that gets you “temporarily drunk”.

A little YouTubing showed videos like this:

I was instantly reminded of this thing I read about in Europe a while ago called AWOL (Alcohol Without Liquid)….

….which is essentially an oxygen vaporizer machine with hard alcohol infused into it…..and you inhale the liquor instead of drink.  This means you only have to only get a SMALL amount of alcohol to have an effect, but it only gets you “buzzed” for a very short amount of time.  It looked like:

 

SO I WANTED TO SEE IF SPRAYING ALCOHOL IN YOUR MOUTH WILL GET YOU BUZZED!
(since I really have nothing else better to do all day) :-)

STEP 1.) I bought several different types of atomizers from Sephora (those little perfume pump thingies):


STEP 2.)
 Bought a bottle of Titos plain vodka (40% alcohol) and a bottle of Everclear (90% alcohol).


STEP 3.)
 I filled the purple spray thingy with Titos, and the Silver one with Everclear


STEP 4.)
 TIME TO SEE IF I GET DRUNK!  I wore safety goggles (in case I mis-sprayed pure alcohol into my eyes):


STEP 5.)
 Waiting to see if I got drunk!
The first few sprays actually didn’t taste THAT bad like expected (although not particularly good either).

I sprayed a few Everclear, and a few vodka….and I’ve gotta say….(unless it’s placebo effect speaking), I FELT SOOORRRTA BUZZED! (it was a similar feeling to the very first sips of alcohol you take in a night…..you’re not “buzzed” yet, but you know something’s swirling around in your brain).

I’m 29 and have been drinking since about the age of 20 years old.   So I can tell by my first drink of alcohol that “something is happening” in my head before I get full-on buzzed or drunk.

Two of us tried this, and we both are almost 100% convinced we felt a very light buzz.
The buzz however wears of literally in about 2 minutes or less.

I’m sure there’s MANY other ways to achieve this (such as just swishing around alcohol in your mouth), but this “spray” method seems to be the most convenient.

 

CONCLUSION.) I’m almost dumbfounded to say this…..but IT WORKED!
…however, only a little. Drinking still seems FAR superior.

However there was only a few milliliters of alcohol in each spray bottle, so this alcohol delivery method is surprisingly efficient.

 

VIDEO OF THE EXPERIMENT:


SO IS THIS A VIABLE PRODUCT?  WHAT OTHER USES?

Here’s a couple of quick ideas an “alcohol spray” could be marketed as:

  • Anti-anxiety spray for approaching and picking up girls (placebo effect will also be strong on this one).
  • Anti-anxiety spray for shy people (placebo effect will also be strong on this one).
  • Creativity Spray – “Spray twice, and start brainstorming!”
  • Calm-Down Spray – “Two sprays will calm ya down!”
wow….those are all kinda dumb ideas.  Maybe I’m still drunk ;-)
Happy spraying!
-Neville

A bunch of business ideas …..and my feedback on each

If you wanna see a bunch of business ideas….and my feedback (on most of them), go here and look at the comments:

http://sumobusinessblueprint.com/hi/well-validate-it-for-you/

I’ve been going through each comment and responding (so all of them might not be done yet)….here’s what I feel like going through EVERY DAMN COMMENT and responding:

These are all business ideas people want to see validated in the SumoBusinessBlueprint style (which I must bragged has helped TOOONNS of people actually get off their ass and validate their idea instead of sitting on it forever).

It’s like free business idea research….check it out:
http://sumobusinessblueprint.com/hi/well-validate-it-for-you/

P.S. I’m still answering the comments one by one….so if you comment, it will get answered!

Nasty Clamps are Nasty (and why they did it RIGHT)

A guy who runs a business called NastyClamps contacted me and wanted to send a product sample to me:

….you can see why at first I was like, “uuuuhhhhhh?”

However phallic that may look to our gross imaginations….in reality the NastyClamp is a useful tool for photographers:

It can attach just about any camera, to just about any THING….like my camera on this desk:

I saw the product (and have used it already with my camera), and I saw the website NastyClamps.com …..and just thought this whole concept was pulled off brilliantly!  (I’m not talking about their whole business model….just the way they’re marketing it).

SHAMELESS PLUG: Matt who owns NastyClamps took the SumoBusinessBlueprint course….so clearly he’s already smart ;-)

One of the things I like very much about the way they executed this whole business was they used the VERY unusual look of the clamp and turned it into a funny selling point.

I showed it to some of the people at the AppSumo office….and they all thought it was hilarious! ….and remember the name.  I don’t know the brandname of any other camera equipment….so I guess the “NastyClamps” name worked pretty damn well!

…..but FIRST, let’s not forget that it’s just plain useful (marketing gimmicks can only get you SO far).

ANOTHER SHAMELESS PLUG: Matt watched the bonus copywriting video at the end of the SumoBusinessBlueprint and sent me this:

Also, I wanted to let you know that I followed some of the basic principles you’d outlined with Andrew Warner (in that bonus Blueprint video) about copywriting, making the written word more conversational, obvious “click here to purchase” links, etc, etc… And that — sincere-writing the copy on my website’s cheesy home page — that my conversion rate has nearly doubled.

One suggestion I’d have for NastyClamps (and for your website if you have one):
…..is make small email collection box that links to a contest.  Maybe something like “We give away a set of NastyClamps every week….just enter your email address to enter the competition”

This would at least help build an email list for later use.  So if you ever do a sale, you can hit up all your fans (pretty much the exact formula I did here).

Another suggestion would be to have some sort of “training material” for people…..just to open up their minds to the possibilities (and Matt, you told me you took my Course About Building A Course)…..so either make a quick video or even have a one-page “course” with several videos or pictures showing what people can do with NastyClamps that they couldn’t do before.

Good job keeping your product interesting (and Nasty)!

“Should I Make An iPhone App?”

“Should I make an iPhone app??”

….it’s a question I’ve heard quite often, and a question I’ve asked myself a few times.

Then I remembered I’m friends with the three guys that started Mutual Mobile, which is the largest (or one of the largest) iPhone app developers in the United States.  They’re now so big (250+ people) they focus on huge enterprise stuff, but they have a TON of experience with apps.

So John Arrow, a friend, and also the CEO of Mutual Mobile was speaking at The Internet Marketing Party here in Austin, and his speech directly answered my question of “SHOULD I BUILD AN IPHONE APP?”

You see, I build all these online courses, and they’re only on the web at the moment….no iPad or iPhone apps yet.  However developers who’ve taken the courses and liked them have offered to put them on the app store for me.

Just for fun I mocked up what it’d look like for the KopywritingKourse to be on an iPhone :-)

Anyhow….I’ve thought about this multiple times.  And it makes sense, “If this works well on the web, it will work well on the App Store! I’m a GEMIUS!!”

Well after listening to John Arrow speak at the Internet Marketing Party I have some more insight on this, and here it is:

He said this (and I’m paraphrasing):

Just because something on the web works, DOES NOT mean it will work well as an app.  Think about it like this:

What additional benefit does product solve if it’s on a phone?  Does it make your service/product more valuable…easier to use?

iPhone’s and iPad’s are portable…..would your service be better if it was more portable?  Would it give the users more features that could use their geographic location?

Here’s something we did: The company People Finder offers background checks.  Just releasing the app as “People Finder” didn’t offer the user anymore benefits than using the service from their mobile browser.  So we made an app called “Are They Single?” …and it did phenomenally well.

It was a simple app, that when you meet someone, you can type in their name and buy a quick background check which shows you if they’re married, single, have kids etc.

This was a huge success because it solved a problem involving geographic location.

No one cares about having a People Finder app on their phone.  They just wanted answers to a specific question.  The way we released that app, DID in fact help people more than the web service.

So if you’re just taking a product from web, and doing a simple port-over to an app….it’s very unlikely it will work unless you add more functionality that’s helpful from a phone.

So there was my answer to “Should I put some of my courses on the app store?”

Not the way I was gonna do it.

That explanation was really helpful, because now I can put that thought to rest….until I find a way that having an app would be MUCH more beneficial to the users.  For now they can always load and watch the courses on their phones with their browsers.

Think about this advice before spending time and money on building out an app.  John has seen tons of successes and failures in this space.  He even started out his speech by asking everyone in the crowd if they’ve built an iPhone app.  Very few people raised their hands.

He then said, “Now give yourselves a round of applause for NOT wasting your money!”

….which is a testament to how many failed attempts at simply porting over a website to an app he’s seen.

———————————————

Has anyone out there seen proof of a course in app form do well?

Sumo Dojo – Answering Startup Questions

Noah and I answer some questions people have about Startup bid-naz’s.  Some of the questions:

  • “I’m trying to start a company….what are the TOOLS I need?”
  • “I work 18 hours a day on my startup, and I still haven’t made money.  Am I doing something wrong?”
  • “When should I QUIT a project I’m working on?”
  • “Do I need a webpage, a Facebook page AND a Twitter for my business??”
  • “What do you think of Startup Weekends (where everyone gets together and builds a business in a weekend)?”
  • “Where can you find ideas for businesses?”
Let us know if YOU have questions on anything, and we’ll answer them :-)
-Nev

“I want to start a business but don’t know where to start”

God I’ve heard that question so many times before.

A good deal of people I know see my lifestyle:

  • No boss
  • No set working time
  • Take any day off
  • Don’t have to commute anywhere
  • Can work from any location

….and they think it’s great.  And I got admit…it ain’t bad!

Many of them realize that working 9-5 is not just 9-5, but also the night before, the morning of….so it consumes and dictates nearly your entire day, what you can do, when you go on vacation etc.

If you like your job…this isn’t really a problem, but if you don’t….yeesh.

So back to the question I get from someone who’s never started a business and now wants to after years of working:

“I want to start a business but don’t know where to start”

To burst most bubbles quickly: It’s doubtful it will happen. I’ve seen long-term working people start successful businesses only a few times. Usually the longer someone’s worked, the more likely they will not succeed.  Most people trying this are in the wrong frame of mind almost immediately. They just want to “make some money” without doing much work.

Anyhow, for this question I will try to assume the role of how I’D PERSONALLY go about starting a business with no particular business acumen.

————————–

First and foremost I’d GET MY LEARN ON.  That’s right….prepare to READ A SHIT LOAD OF STUFF.  And TAKE NOTES.  It’s like school.

Then I would try to implement what I’ve learned and make $100 from it.

That’s it.

————————–

I think those three short sentences above can teach you an immense deal about business.

The benefit of this is:
1.) It’s easy to make $100 in just about anything.
2.) Simply DOING something will very quickly show if you like it or not.
3.) Your desire to learn will be way more intense if you’re currently DOING something real….not just thinking about a hypothetical business you might build.

It is ABSOLUTELY GRATIFYING to destroy the dreams of people who say, “I want to start a business but can’t think of anything”.

Me: “What business books have you read?”

Them: “Ummmm, none.”

Me: “Have you ever written down what you like to do, what skills you have etc. on a piece of paper?  Spent a couple of hours on it?”

Them: “Hmmmmm…..not really.”

Me: “Have you sought out business people you admire and asked them to show you how their business works”

Them: “I once saw YouTube video of Bill Gates.”

Me: “So basically you’ve done NOTHING to realize your dream of starting a business?”

Sincerely,
Neville (destroyer of dreams)

P.S. Here’s some motivation to consume if you fall in that camp.
Earl Nightingale’s The Strangest Secret