CMR 16: The First Secret to Starting a Successful Business

Ben Willson - Conversion Marketing Radio

“Emphasis on the word ‘Starting’…”



**Transcription of Recording**

How’s it going today guys. I’m Ben Willson and welcome to Conversion Marketing Radio.

[Intro] Welcome to Conversion Marketing Radio, uncovering the secrets of how to convert your dream clients into being customers. If you’re here to learn about maximizing conversions for your business without wasting money on vanity results, consider subscribing to this podcast. Now, here is your host, Ben Willson.


 This week, I had another coaching call with a girl from California, who initially signed up to see what other ways she could obtain new customers through advertising. About 20 minutes into the call, we had discovered that she wasn’t really excited about the business that she was trying to grow. She just didn’t find passion behind it, as well as realizing it is a very very saturated market. From there, what ended up turning into, was more of a like a deep dive questionnaire, that she was able to just start picking my brain about. I was really excited because it was transforming the way that she was looking at business.


The thing that I love about coaching calls, is that I’m always able to reconstruct and look at my own business from a different perspective. One of the questions that really– Or how the topic really transformed into, was the question of, I’m not really sure about what business I should start. There’s a lot of ideas and so what’s the best business to start? How can you ensure it’s going to be successful?


As we started working through this, there was there were some different mindsets and different areas in which I was pulling information from over the years, either through other mentors, books, and courses, or failures, or successes or just turning conglomerate in a very short amount of time. Like what’s the best approach to starting a business?


The thing that it really comes down to, and as cliche as this is, it comes down to what problem do you want to solve? If you care enough about. There definitely is more than that. It’s not just about what you’re passionate about, and it’s not just about the problem you’re trying to solve because in business, there are so many different changes that’s constantly happening, and there’s always going to be the dirt that has to be solved. I’ve referred to dirt as in like the day to day grind. You can’t 100% be always doing the things that you dream about, or are only solving that problem all right.


Running a business, there’s a lot of different variables and lots of different things that can go wrong. You can certainly align a lot of what you do want to do in creating a business and finding good partners or good employees. Most of all it comes down to, “Do you care enough to deal with the crap?” That’s the best way to put it. Do you care enough to deal with the dirt? Do you care enough if things go wrong? Like you really you’re in the pursuit of it.


What is driving you to try to solve it? Is it just money? Is the only thing that you’re motivated by? Are you motivated by the change or the impact that it can create? Are you hopeful in the status that it gives you? What is it that’s driving into this business? Because that’s what the passion should be about. Because in that point, then you can start to care about the crap that comes with business.


This last week, it felt like everything just went wrong. It was so crazy. I mean enough so that– I wasn’t really frustrated but I was definitely starting to feel defeated. In like an awkward humorous way, I started laughing when things would go wrong. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, every little thing that I touched, it just either broke or something happened to go wrong. I started getting phone calls from other people and things like that they were working on breaking and they were looking for my advice and I was just trying to keep it together.


But I’m passionate about this new other agency and practice and we’re creating different products and services. Most of all, different offers to solve problems that are much bigger than what I can do alone. I’m passionate enough to fix these crappy problems, in order for the bigger pursuit because I know that if I can do this and continually repeat it, then the success will happen.


That’s wasn’t necessarily the entire phone call. It’s not just about solving your own problems. It comes down to more of, how do you actually start? what’s the best approach to ensure your success? You might be passionate about something and about the concept, or about the problem you’re solving, but it doesn’t also mean you’re going to be successful. You might be– There are definitely lots of passionate people out there who are not successful, who do not have successful businesses, but they are passionate as all get up. They’re very very happy, but they are also not achieving the success that they were hoping for by following those dreams.


It’s not to say, “Don’t follow your dreams or don’t follow your passions.” Those are definitely important because of dealing with that crap. How do you actually start a successful business? If you can wrap this into your passion, this is where I truly feel that you’re going to find success. Also, it’s talked about in multiple different books, there’s a lot of different people who have seen success and the biggest thing that they say is something that we’re going to talk about in just the second here.


Back in college when Steve Larsen from Sales Funnel Radio, I’ve talked about him a lot on the podcast. When him and I were in college, we convinced our teachers to allow us to miss class. I know I’ve told this story before, where we convinced them that we could work on basically our own learning. We were going to learn more outside the classroom than what we’re going to learn by the curriculum that they had prepared to teach all the students. We just felt that what we were learning was going to be more valuable in the pursuit of why we’re even in college. The whole thing was to be successful in life and we didn’t want to be held back necessarily.


There was a couple of stipulations though, one of which was to join the entrepreneurship society, which we reluctantly did because we did want to pursue our concept of what we were developing at the time. Steve was able to get out of it quite a bit because of ROTC what he had joined during school. I had to show up and represent both of us to this so that we could both continually miss school. Because he had a very valid reason. There’s no way that he was going to be to miss out on ROTC and it was at the exact same time as this club essentially.


We started noticing something though, that other students who had started in this entrepreneurship society were doing the same things that later also transpired to what I’ve seen many people claiming to be like entrepreneurs or these business owners. It’s not the concepts, it’s not about how fantastic the logo you’ve made, these kids had started– They would ask us, “What’s the best way to brand our company?” “What kind of websites and website builder should we use?” And like, “Oh well, we want to make our website before we go sell our products.”


I remember talking to Steve about this. We were laughing like they’re playing house essentially. You know when you’re a kid and you’re playing dress up, and you’re imagining what this life is going to be like and you’re imagining like, “This is what my house is over here,” and you’re playing house essentially. Well, it never changed for a lot of people who are entering into the business world. They’re just playing business. They go get business cards, they make a website, they share their dream on Facebook maybe.


Most, they start writing about these whole new concepts and the whole thing that they do not do is get their first sale. They’re not selling at all. If they’re posting and they’re not selling, they might be selling the idea, but they don’t release a product to buy. They’re not getting a paying customer. People might think, “Oh well, I’ve got support, I’ve got likes on my Facebook post. Therefore, people will buy my product when it eventually comes out.”


Well, the product never comes out, ever because the business has failed already because of the amount of money that it takes to start creating all these email sequences, or the type of websites that you’re hoping for. All the different things that do go into a business because they didn’t actually have the funding. They either thought, “Okay well, I’m going to get capital or an investor or a loan.” But there’s literally a way you can do it. Just go sell. Just go sell the very first thing. Go knocking on doors and go figure out if that’s the first– Like get your first customer on board. Be embarrassed by your products. If you’re trying to perfect it before releasing it, you’ve released a way too late. That actually comes right out of The Lean Startup from Eric Reis, the book. Literally, if you’re not embarrassed by what you’re producing, it’s way too late. You should have released it so long ago.


The same concept was introduced in a different book. This other book that has become like a Bible was actually introduced to me around the same time. Steve and I had gone and we didn’t really know what we were– We didn’t have a business, we didn’t have a name for the business. We had no business cards, we didn’t have a website. However, we had a waiting list of 14 different businesses because we weren’t able to necessarily take them on as clients. Because we hadn’t figured out a process where we started doing those. We just started selling services of being able to generate hundreds of thousands of visitors to websites, based upon the type of mediums that we were using for ads.


We were working with actually some major companies, which was crazy. Especially after a couple of weeks of doing this, we had really traveled and we were working with large companies, like Paul Mitchell, even Aisles by Scholastic. It was a learning course. We were producing lots and lots of leads and sales for their products, but we didn’t have a business name.


Part of the entrepreneurship society was to also enter into a business competition. On the same day of the competition, Steve and I came up with some stupid name that we called it because we didn’t have that ‘business name’. But part of to enter is that at the very top of the entry form was like, “What’s your business name?”. I was like, “I don’t know. Let’s just–.” We put in like a word generator and it literally spat out a five letter word, and so we call it Good. That’s the start of that ‘business’.


However, we also had like six clients already that were paying us to test out what we were doing. We had paying clients before we even had a business name. At the business competition, we met a guy who runs– He’s very successful entrepreneur up in Idaho, who had started multiple different companies and was one of the judges. After the competition, he came and talked to us and was talking about how he is impressed by some of the different things. One of the things that he said, he said, “You guys took a ready fire aim approach.”


That’s what really struck my mind is what he had explained to us. He was like, “You’ve obviously read the book, Ready, Fire, Aim.” We were like, “I’ve never heard of that book but that’s what sounded like an amazing concept, so explain more.” He said, “Well it breaks down to you’re ready to start a business, instead of aiming– Because so much of business is that aiming while it’s not quite there yet, just fire. Fire and then go figure out how to improve on what you’ve already fired upon.” When I was studying for the GMAT, I heard an amazing quote, “You can’t edit a paragraph unless it’s already written.”


You can sit here, you can type your paragraphs, you can type your sentences, you can try to do your business as much as you want, but if you actually aren’t getting these things out, you can’t go back and edit them. In our case optimize them. I can’t optimize a webpage that’s not made, and I can’t optimize a business that’s not created, and I can’t improve the next sell unless I’ve already had a sale. Instead of holding back on anything Release while you’re embarrassed. Release before it’s perfect, release and go and get that first customer.


In fact, you don’t even have to ‘release your business’, but you do have to go get at least your first customer, if not second, third, fourth, fifth, and just continually sell until you can figure out that it hurts, that you’re in pain because you’ve got too many customers or clients and now you need to salvage and save these customers, and these clients. Because you’ve got to provide either a better service for what they’re paying for, anything along those lines. It might be completely embarrassing and you’ve got to be comfortable with it. Otherwise, it’s just not going to be successful.


As you’re starting out, Michael Masterson’s the one that wrote Ready, Fire, Aim. I want to share a couple of things that he talks about in Ready, Fire, Aim. If you haven’t read it, definitely go pick it up. It’s such an amazing book. It’s like a Bible to me and the sense. I’ve reread it multiple times in the last few years because it’s actually built upon different stages of the business that you’re in. Actually, I come back and I reread it to see how to move to the next stage. This is why I really really like the book. It’s built for all different stages from zero to a hundred million. There are some good concepts if you’re above a hundred million, but I don’t think anyone is in that boat yet who listens to this podcast. If you do, thank you.


Here are some things though, is don’t let the practice of business or being busy with business fool you into of thinking that you’re setting yourself up for success. This is doing things like making a logo, a website, marketing materials. Michael Masterson talks about getting a toll-free number to look bigger than what you already are. I don’t mean to say this like I’ve never done these things. I have actually done that before. I literally done this stupid point of going on a toll-free number and paying like 15 or 20 dollars a month for it, and I don’t even have a client. That was dumb of me. When I reread that in the book, I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m the idiot here.”


Another one was even– He says even incorporating your business– And the last business that I’m moving into right now and so excited for, we’re working with healthcare practices because I truly believe that there’s a way to change the healthcare industry, and it’s by starting on the lower level or the people that are immersed with working with the patients, not the large corporations. I have done that before. I did work with those large corporations, worked with the C-Suites, but I truly believe it actually is on the on the ground floor. What kind of services and products do we provide and offers to implore into these businesses to start changing healthcare now and not waiting for it?


I feel like as we’re taking on clients, I still consider it research but we’re making money as I get to research what the true problems of the healthcare industry are. Otherwise, I’m going to spend the rest of my life because it’s such a complex and massive issue. The best thing to do is to start. My business partner and I that we formed into this new agency, it was so fantastic. We sold a client before we actually had a business name, anything. In fact, it was more so to see if someone would buy the concept. We didn’t even have the materials or the tools to get it done. We literally went and we sold it, and as they said, “Okay, where do we write the $10,000 check?”


We had to figure out the name and all that stuff. We still didn’t even do it. We actually had the check transferred into a personal account and then from there, we later transferred into the new incorporation. But we went and we got money before we even started to make sure that the money was there. Even though there was one before incorporating, it was important to not go through all of that in hopes that a person would write us a $10,000 check. It was to go and sell it first. That now we could just repeat that sale over and over again because we knew how to sell it the first time. That’s what the Michael Masterson is talking about in this book.


In the first stage from zero to a million is how he puts it and in the infancy. Says, “Your main problem is you don’t really know what you’re doing.” That is the truth. The main challenge, you’re figuring out how to sell your product profitably and making that first sale. The main opportunity in this stage is to achieve a minimum mass of customers. The skills you’re going to need in this stage, are getting things going and selling. He then says, “There are many problems in a business’ growth, but the one and only thing that is deadly to a business is that if a business is not bringing in new customers.” Nobody works until someone sell something. So he says then, “How do you do it?” Says, OSS, the Optimum selling strategy.


You’ve got to answer four questions to know how successful you’ll be as you’re starting off. If you can answer these four questions, we can get into another four questions that you can then answer after you’ve answered the first four. Number one, where are you going to find your new customers. If you’ve listened to anything from Russell Brunson when he talks about communities. Go to a community that’s already established. You don’t have to create your new community, but go find one. Go find one where the traffic is already there.


Second question, what products will you sell them first? Now, you might have the dream of what your business can eventually and hopefully do, but what product do you sell them first? That is important. Number three, how much will you charge for it? And number four, how will you convince them to buy it?


If you can answer those four questions, we can then get into the next four, which are, what other products can we sell? Number two, how can we make the offer more enticing? Number three, how can we make the advertising copy more compelling? Number four, what other media should we test? Not just solidifying. What other things can we test? You can only answer those questions after you’ve gone through and you answered the four and started implementing them. Once you’ve got that going, then you can do this.


Now, as there are lots of things that do go bad in business, there is a thing that you need to do, is to identify this optimum selling strategy and implore like 80% of your resources into that one thing. If you are a one-trick pony, you can only sell that one thing, that’s fantastic because if your business can grow off of it, you can then sell other products. You can upsell, you can cross-sell, you can move people into monthly memberships, or courses or whatever it can be. But if you can’t get them to buy the first thing, you’re not going to be successful in business whatsoever. You have to be able to make sure that people are coming in through that pipeline and that that first part where there is going to be friction, becomes absolutely frictionless.


The thing I want to wrap up with you guys is if you’re playing house– And don’t get me wrong, I’ve listened to the book multiple times, and I still find myself doing these things, where I get caught up in the excitements of what the business could be. But I’m also not implementing the things that the business should be doing, which is to be selling, to be bringing more clients, to be working with– To ways that I can continually improve that single offer right from the bat. If I haven’t made a million dollars off of that one thing, either completely start over, or just get better at selling that one thing.


How do you find more ways to entice people? We talked about offers or treatment plans before. How do you propose this to these customers and clients so that you can continually sell that? Don’t switch. If you’re going to make any switches or tweaks, just you’re making small tweaks. Like I talked about in the last episode, is you make small changes. Don’t go make big giant effects. If you figure something out, just make the small changes to improve on that. That’s what I’m going to leave with you guys today.


As I said, this all started because of a coaching call. I’m still doing some free coaching for businesses and people that are wanting to start businesses and what they can do or how to improve your advertising conversion rates or just where to go next. I might not know all the answers, but I’m always always always always trying to search for what that right answer could be, or improving on those right answers.


If this is your first time here today guys, thank you so much for listening in. Go ahead and hit that subscribe button if you want to catch up with some more stuff. Also, be sure to check out If you are interested in that coaching, it is /coaching. If you want to subscribe and listen, definitely, also go catch up some more episodes either on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, LinkedIn, YouTube, also. You’ll find a lot of those links off of Conversion Marketing Radio. Seriously, thank you so much again for your time. Always appreciate it and until next time, keep converting.

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