Starting a business from scratch can be a challenging endeavour.
Many people become paralysed by self doubt and uncertainty when starting a business. This is why gaining momentum and establishing a proof of concept within the marketplace is a crucial step in achieving future success.
In today's video I sat down with Nick Fisher to discuss how I would build a business from scratch if I were to lose everything and had to start over.
Here's what we cover:
My personal story of how I got started
Why you should only focus on months, weeks and days when in a financial emergency
Strategy for long term growth and scale
Importance of being open to experimentation and evolving your vision over time
Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments?
Sam Ovens: Hi, I'm Sam Ovens.
Nick Fisher: This is Nick Fisher.
Sam Ovens: What we wanted to do with these next few videos is go to our audience; the people that follow us on social media, receive our emails, and watch these videos. We wanted to go to the audience and ask, what do you guys want to learn?
So, we sent out some surveys and everything and we collected the responses. What we have done is, we've found the most popular questions that people want answered. What we're gonna do is ... We've got a list of them, and Nick Fischer is gonna go through them, and we're gonna answer those questions for you guys so that we can help you out.
So, the first question we've got is ... A lot of people wanted to know what I would do if I was starting over from scratch. If I just lost all of my money, all of my connections, all of my followers, subscribers, everything. We're talking a true blank slate, like a fresh start. What would I do.
So, in this video today we're gonna answer that.
Nick Fisher: So, if you had to start from scratch, let's say no money, no connections, no nothing, and you only had 30 days to make enough money to pay rent. Let's say rent's $5000 before you got evicted from your place, what do you do starting today; right now?
Sam Ovens: Well, for me I'd probably just default to what I used to do back when that was always the case, like every 30 days. That was ... I would just look for local businesses that had bad websites, or who I thought were making mistakes with their websites.
So, to do that I'd just go into Google and I'd just search for different companies like Plumbers, Electricians, Dentists, your traditional source of businesses. I'd just search in Google and find them, and then I'd go to their websites and think, "Is this website like really good or is it bad? Or do I really think that this business could benefit if they made some changes to their website and updated it?"
So, I was basically looking for people who I thought I could help. I'd just ... I'd go through Google, nothing fancy I'd just build a Google Doc, or Excel file with all the companies, and the links to their sites, and their phone numbers.
Then, what I'd do is once I'd pull together a list, I would just shoot them an email and I'd say, "Hey, I took a look at your website and I think you're making some mistakes with it that is costing your business. I think if you fix these things you could really make more money, and your business would benefit from it."
Then, I'd just use screen recording software to record me just talking while going through their website explaining mistakes, and I'd link that video in the email. It's a real simple email, five minute screen recording video, and I'd say, "If you want my help with fixing any of these things just let me know." So, real simple-
Nick Fisher: Got it. So, that's the ask at the end, everything else is just value then at that point?
Sam Ovens: Well, you just want to be a few things; one, is you want to just be different. So, I see a lot of people they think ... Facebook ads and things like this they're not things to use in emergency situations. Same with social media, these aren't emergency situation things. They take a long time to build up and to grow into something.
So, when you're in an emergency situation you need something that's gonna just be like you aim for it, and it's a direct hit. So, when you just find websites through Google that's instant, it's free.
Then, when you send them an email that's instant, and it's free. And you're not relying on building up an audience, building up a community, and an authority and all of these things. It's just a direct hit.
Then, you want to be different too, you want to look a little bit different than all the other people that are out there shouting like, "Hey, I can help you with stuff." So, that's where really the personal email comes in because personal emails are real. Most emails people get are from automated blasts. It's very rare to get just a genuine person sending you a genuine email that isn't just a copy/paste thing.
Nick Fisher: I'd agree.
Sam Ovens: Then, if you put the video in there too, which is actually you critiquing their site now you're really real. Now, this person probably hasn't received one of those emails at all ever.
So, you're gonna standout, you're gonna get noticed, you know that your message is gonna reach the person. If you're honest with it and you only really email people who you believe you can help, someone should bite on that.
So, we're just removing all the variables, and we're trying to make it as simple, and as fast as possible because 30 days is like emergency.
Nick Fisher: 30 days is an emergency. So, the first day would that just be all research then? Or would you start doing ... Let's say, how many do you need to send out?
Sam Ovens: Well, if you got 30 days you're not wasting one day on research.
Nick Fisher: I would say so.
Sam Ovens: So, what I would do is I'd think, "How many of these emails do I need to send out to get one of these jobs?" You want to be really prudent with guesses, 'cause if you're in an emergency you want to ... No, if you go too big the worse thing that can happen is you get too many clients. But, if you go too small the worse thing that can happen is you get none and you're stuck.
So, I would ... I think you could easily get a client within 50 to a hundred, but I wouldn't bank on that in an emergency situation. I would go for 300 because surely you're gonna get one in 300.
If you're doing the emails properly, if you're making these things like ... I don't see how you could do that and not get a client out of 300, it's near impossible to me.
So, if we do that then we shouldn't be in trouble at the end of 30 days. Then, if you just take 300 divide it by 30 you get 10 a day. So, all you need to do each day starting day one, is send out 10 of these things.
So, I wouldn't try and build the list of 300 people first, that's gonna be so boring, and tedious, and you'll want to kill yourself doing that. So, I'd just do 10 every day.
So, I'd just do it first thing in the morning to get it off my mind so I can just relax for the rest of the day. I'd wake up, open up my laptop, and I would just jump into Google find 10 companies that are a good fit. Put them into my Google Doc, record all of their videos, send out those 10 emails, and then I know I've just ticked off that one thing I need to do today to try and get myself out of this situation.
Nick Fisher: How about the rest of the day then? Let's say you have time left over that day-
Sam Ovens: Hopefully these people are gonna reply back and things like that-
Nick Fisher: Got it. So, you're having some time allocated for having conversations potentially on the phone?
Sam Ovens: Yeah. But, the main thing is you get it off your mind that you've done a step towards fixing it. The last thing you want to do is procrastinate it, 'cause every day it's gonna get worse. So, you don't want to put it off any days at all, and you just want to make a dent in it every single day.
I think after you do that morning action it's just gonna ... It's gonna put you in a way better state for the rest of the day.
Nick Fisher: Got it. So, that kind of covers ... I think that's the situation a lot of people that we see ... They come and they're looking at consulting, or a side hustle as something that can get them an immediate result for a short-term pinch that they're in.
But, then on the flip side there's other people that were writing into community that said, " I have the money, like, 30 days isn't necessarily a hard gap I have to make this." They're more interested in, how do I make a believable plan for the next three years?
What's the formula for goal planning further out? I have time to figure out my niche. I have time, I just don't have to make money. What do I do in this situation?
Sam Ovens: So, they're not in an emergency?
Nick Fisher: Correct. They have more time to figure out, and they just want ... It sounds like a believable plan for the next three years. Maybe something ... Maybe something like that they're like, "Oh, that's something I would burn out."
It's a short-term solution. I don't even want to sell websites but I would for 30 days 'cause I got to pay rent. These people are trying to find more believable plan, something they want to grow like a business they can be proud of essentially.
Sam Ovens: Well, a believable plan comes from a test that's gotten results. So, if you've done something in a small sample and it's worked, then it could be a believable plan to really scale that thing up.
So, I'll give you an example, when I first started selling these websites and everything, I would be able to do like one to four a month; that was pretty much how many I could do.
Then, a believable plan for me for the next two years was, "Okay, we'll just scale this thing up, all I need to do is hire more people." So, I decided to start an agency type business and hire people get them in, and teach them what I was doing then they could do it too, right?
Nick Fisher: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Sam Ovens: So, a believable plan comes from really just being ... Doing more of what's already proven to work. I think plans aren't believable when there's no pilot test, or no base test to prove the proof of concept. That's really what it is, if you're ... You can't build a three year plan off a concept that's never been proven.
You have to see it with your own eyes happen at a small scale before you know that this thing can scale. Then, with another example like being able to have a longterm vision, and having the confidence to get big on what I've done with consulting.com, and stuff.
Now, I've invested a lot of money into it and I would never have the confidence to impor all that money into it, and work really hard towards it if I didn't think it was a believable plan.
But, the plan's only believable because it had been proven, the concept had been proven. So, I started out selling the training program to people and it was really scrappy back then.
The program was just built in Dropbox and the ... I didn't have a website, I didn't have anything and what would happen is people would email me and I'd reply back and say, "Hey, I've got this thing are you interested in it?" They'd say yes or no, we might jump on Skype and talk, and then they would sign up, and they'd just send me the money through PayPal or something. Then, they would sign up and I'd send them a link to Dropbox.
That's all it was no website, nothing fancy at all. Not even ... The program was just recorded things in Dropbox, but once I'd sold 12 people into that ... I think we did 12 or 15 people, I was like, "Oh, well this thing is proven."
Now, the next plan for the next year is to build this into a proper program. Put it into a content portal, make the videos better, give it an actual name, give it a brand and a logo. All of these niceties, which people often do first when they really should do those later.
It's ... Every time I've done the Logo and everything first the business has pretty much failed. Every time I've just forgotten about that and just built the scrappiest most ghetto thing ever, the business has really done well. Then, the polish comes over time.
So, I think most people ... There's no such thing as a believable plan, you can't make a plan that's believable. The thing that makes it believable is having a proof of concept that it's been proven.
Nick Fisher: Got it. Then, as far as time frames on a plan for you personally when is too far, and when is too short? If you're making a business plan do you do it by a yearly basis?
Is a five year plan kind of just insane because it changes too much? Is it good to have a five year plan 'cause it keeps you on a big vision? How do feel about plans and the time lengths you should actually take action on those plans?
Sam Ovens: So, in the earlier days I could only ever see like one year how ... And even then the plan changed a lot. So, I think when you're first getting started you should think one year, and then focus most of your attention all the time on the month, and the weeks, and the days.
Months, weeks, days is where you're gonna be operating when you're getting started. 'cause you're just fooling yourself thinking out further than that. Your most important goal is just to survive, and build up your resources.
But, as soon as you start getting enough resources that you're not in the emergency zone, you can start thinking out one year. Then, as soon as you've really built up resources and things you can start thinking out like two, three.
In terms of plans, when I do my year plan I would just list five main goals. Five main things I need to achieve, and then I will just chunk out different months of the year where I'm working on different things. That's about as detailed as it is because things change all the time.
You start working on something and then it pings over here, and then there, and it moves all over the place. So, it's silly to plan things out too much.
Then, in terms of two year, three year, four year, five year those are just visions. So, like an idea or a picture in my mind, like, a mental picture of where the company, and myself, and the financials, and everything might be.
There is no plan out there because the plans change in the month, to make one out in five years is just stupid. It's gonna be a ... Well, it is a lie because I don't think anyone would ever plan out their fifth year and have things happen like that in their fifth year. To me, it's pointless.
Nick Fisher: Has your goal ... Did you ever have a five year plan when you were getting started? If you did, what was one crazy vision or goal that you had then that completely doesn't matter to you now at all?
Is there anything when you were thinking about when you first started out you're like, "I definitely wanna do this, this is my vision." Now, you're like that was naive or I was thinking too small, maybe I was thinking too big. What was it?
Sam Ovens: Yeah. When I started my first businesses like my very first one Promote Yourself, which is like an online job board. I thought that would be all I was doing for the rest of my life. I was thinking about how that might change and develop and all of these things.
But, then the business turned out to fail and not work. So, then obviously that got completely moved out of my vision. Then, I moved on to the next thing and then that became my vision. So, yeah, it's changed a lot.
I mean, when I was a kid at school I thought I wanted to be a Dentist. So, like ... I thought all in the future I might be being a Dentist or whatever. Then, when I wanted a job I thought I would just be working in a corporate. It changes all the time, and it's hard to explain because you only want to really commit, and focus on one thing, and just block everything else out once it's proven to work really.
It might just be proven at a very small scale. But, you just want it to be proven so that you know that you're putting all of this effort, and focus, and attention into something that's actually gonna do something. It's just hard to believe that when you haven't seen any sort of feedback from the market.
Nick Fisher: Right.
Sam Ovens: A good example might be Micheal Jackson, if you watch documentaries on the story, which is really interesting. Early on when he was a kid like five, six years old he was winning school talent shows and stuff.
So, this is good feedback for him that he's pretty good at this, and that if he keeps putting in more effort ... If he keeps doing what he's doing just in larger, and larger quantities, and scale over time, then he's gonna be good at it. He's gonna be a success.
So, until you really find that thing that's given you that feedback, you don't want to be too just focused on one thing. You've got to be opened to other ideas, and experiment, and things like that.
Nick Fisher: Got it. Cool.