I received this email from a talented young entrepreneur a month or so after I interviewed him for a marketing position at Toofr, the sales tech website I built and is my main source of income today.
I wanted to reach out in hope for some advice. I’m inspired by Toofr. It’s such a simple service, yet so valuable to your customers, and highly profitable in proportion to the time spent to manage it. I want to create something like this for myself.
I would like your advice on:
– How I can build a product that is just good enough to get a first customer.
– How to market and sell without hiring sales people or buying ads.
– How to retaining my customers for as long as possible.
Can you offer me any advice?
It was a moment of pure, blazing coincidence. I had just finished this book when he emailed me out of the blue. It’s like I wrote it just for him, so I sent him an early draft of my book in response.
Building a product on the internet is relatively easy these days. It’s the making money part that’s hard.
I know because I’ve done it, and unlike a lot of entrepreneurs I know, I’ve done every part of it myself. I code, sell, market, and even file taxes. I learned it all on the spot.
I wrote this book to help you and people like TN become parallel entrepreneurs faster than I did, and to encourage you to do so while you have the safety net of a day job.
In writing this book, I interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs who have done it more successfully than I have. These entrepreneurs have at least two income streams generating $10,000 per month, and they’ve developed their companies both solo and with a team.
I’ve divided this book into two parts: Theory and Tactics.
The Theory section will cover all sides of parallel entrepreneurship and lean on both my experiences and those of others who have also ventured into parallel entrepreneurship.
I lay out a framework and incorporate insights and patterns from dozens of parallel entrepreneurs, so that we can understand the rationale behind splitting your time across multiple ventures instead of focusing on just one.
This is important because we’ve all heard the refrain, “Focus, focus, focus.” I’ll explain why this is right (each business you start should be singularly focused) and why this is wrong (because–and this is the point of the book–you can have multiple singularly focused businesses!)
The Tactics section covers everything you need to know in order to plan, build, and run a business on the internet — all while keeping your day job.
This book will not help you open a restaurant or a consulting company. You probably can’t keep a day job and start one of those types of businesses. It focuses on internet software businesses because they are what I know and also the most scalable kind of ventures. These are the types of business you can run just at night and on weekends, and you can run several of them at once.
If your goal is to own a website that makes money while you sleep, allows you to (eventually) work one-hour days, and nets you more income than your peers in full-time jobs, then read on.
You can do it if you work hard and get just a little bit lucky.
If your goal is to build a multinational enterprise, list your company on the NASDAQ, and make $100 million dollars, then I’m sorry, this book is not for you. The decisions you’ll make, the investment you’ll need, and the ability to build a portfolio of your own small businesses are incompatible with the methods described in this book.
The businesses I’m focusing on are singles and doubles, not home runs and grand slams. The businesses I want you to build are little money makers with no staff. Combine them together and you’ll be financially free.
Throughout this book I’ll explain why keeping your businesses small and simple is very important.
Furthermore, I focus solely on businesses that sell to other businesses. These are called “B2B” companies. I think it’s too hard to build a consumer-facing (“B2C”) business on your own. You need scale for B2C to work, and to get scale, you need investors. Yuck.
If you’re reading this book, you’re probably interested in working for yourself. If you take outside capital, you’re also taking on a boss, reporting requirements, and a business partner.
Trust me, unless you need $100 million in your bank account, the investor baggage is not worth it. If you want to raise money and report to a board of directors, then this book isn’t for you.
My bias toward B2B business is a direct result of my experience building B2B companies. In fact, I’ve never built a B2C product, but I have some friends who are successful at it. I have seen and heard directly from these friends that B2B opportunities will get to profitability faster and with less work than B2C counterparts, so that’s what I’m promoting here. I want to be upfront about that.
If you need to build something that thousands or millions of people will use, then I’m sorry, this book also isn’t for you.
Instead, you’ll get helpful resources from my journey along with insights into the nasty pitfalls you’ll inevitably discover. This book is designed to be both a story and an encyclopedia that you can keep referring back to as you build your businesses.
I must warn you: what you’re about to embark upon is all-consuming, painful, and frustrating. You will want to quit several times before you finally turn your idea into a personal ATM machine.
I wanted to shut down Toofr at one point. I was on the cusp of shutting it down in early 2014. I’m glad I didn’t. That would have been a million-dollar mistake! You might find yourself in the same situation, so I’ve written about that too.
Most importantly, I want you to know that when your monthly revenue from your side income matches your paycheck, the feeling is incredible. It’s freedom, it’s validation, and it’s worth every minute of the struggle!
I hope you stick with it long enough to get there.
In short, this is the book I wish I had access to ten years ago when I was diving into my first company with dreams of starting many others. It would have saved me a lot of time.
And time, my friends, is everything.