Saturday, June 11, 2005

Lesson #10 - Getting yourself in motion

A WebKEW reader, age 23, wrote me a letter this week to say, approximately, "I have book ideas and I am having trouble getting started. I have business ideas, but they need money to get started or they seem too big for me to start with. What can I do to get moving?" It was a very good letter actually, so I wrote back and asked him to call me.

If you have read How to make a million dollars, you know that "getting in motion" is one of the most important keys to success. If you simply think about making a million dollars, nothing will happen. You have to actually do something.

We talked on the phone for about 15 minutes. During the first five minutes we talked about where he is at. Then we talked about several simple, concrete things he can do to get moving. Here are some of the things I suggested:
  1. As far as the book writing goes, I understand that writing a book can be hard. The problem with writing a book is that you have to write the whole, entire book before you can publish it. It is a year or more of work before you see any results. And there is no guarantee (unless you are someone like J.K. Rowling or Tom Clancy) that anyone will read your book once it is published.

    My suggestion: Start writing your book on the web. There are several benefits to doing it this way. First, it is easier. Saying to yourself, "I am going to write a little bit each day or each week" is somehow easier that saying, "I am going to spend a year writing an entire book." Second, you get instant gratification -- what you write is up on the web immediately. Third, you get feedback. You can look at your web statistics and see if anyone cares, and people will write comments or send you email. In that way, you find out what people think. Fourth, you can make adjustments based on the stats and feedback. If there is something people seem to find really interesting, you can focus on it.

    What is WebKEW? It is a book that I am writing on the web. I work on it a little bit each day or each week. See The introduction to WebKEW for details.

    The knee-jerk reaction to this suggestion by some people is, "but... if I put it on the web then who will read my book?" That is backwards thinking. It is far easier to publish a book if you already have an established audience. See the YarnHarlot case study for an example.

  2. Find someone to talk to. I suggested that he look for a mentor. In his case, I suggested that he look for someone who has accomplished what he hopes to accomplish or is moving down the path, and ask that person to be his mentor.

    How do you ask? You simply ask. You write the person a letter or call the person and you tell the person what you are trying to accomplish. You ask if you can take him/her to lunch (or schedule a call) to learn more about what he/she has accomplished. What you are asking for, initially, is 30 minutes to an hour of the person's time to ask questions.

    What is the person going to say? The person will say, "yes" or, "no". If the person says, "no", you look for someone else. If the person says "yes", you create a list of questions and you ask them. The book Never Eat Alone can be very helpful if you follow this path.

    After you have lunch, and if it goes well, you ask if you could do it again sometime. The person will say, "yes" or, "no". If you have three or four lunches and they go well, you ask the person if he/she would consider being your "mentor." Or you never ask -- you simply continue getting together every so often. In that case, the person is your de facto mentor.

  3. As an alternative to finding a mentor, try to find two or three people who are trying to accomplish the same kind of thing you are trying to accomplish. Agree to have lunch or get together once every week to share ideas, compare notes, talk about progress, etc. You will be amazed at what a little peer pressure can do!

  4. Look in your area and see if there is an "entrepreneurial organization." In my area this organization is called the CED. There you will find a couple hundred like-minded people that you can talk to. An organization like this often also has classes, a helpful staff, etc. (if you find no such organization, consider starting one yourself).

  5. Take a business-plan-writing class. In a class like this you will be in a room with 10 to 20 other people who are trying to write business plans. While taking the class, you normally write a business plan, and both the instructor and class members will critique it. The "entrepreneurial organization" in your area will normally offer classes like these, but if not try calling the business school at a local college or talking to the chamber of commerce.
By taking any of these steps, you help get yourself in motion. See also How to make a million dollars.


At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also you should read the books on Marshall's million dollar book list. They help me get motivated. Reread How to make a million dollars as well.

At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marshall, thanks so much for your blogs and insight. I read HowStuffWorks even before I saw your banner ads in the NetZero toolbar (free version). ;)

I'm glad to see you are doing well. I have started a microISV (software shop) myself. I make a few sales and my current goal is to keep a steady pace of sales.

Keep writing I FOR SURE will be reading. :)
- Brandon Doyle

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous John Goewert said...

That's about the same boat a group of us are in.

Our ultimate goal is to make decent indie video games. But, like a book, making a good game will take about a year or two. Since we are trying to do this with no capital to start with, and we really don't want to take out a loan as we are in the post-college years with serious debt already, we are trying to find the money to get all the paperwork filled out to become a businesses to make the money. So, we are going to have to seed ourselves in some respects like most family owned businesses do.

Our plan of attack looks like 3 waves:

Wave 1: Make a small, yet sellable application to sell to a small market. We have a friend that runs a pen & paper game store that might be willing to sell some of our stuff as our application fits as a product he would sell and he already sells small stuff from other people. Use that money to get the paperwork/lawyer fees and stuff to corporatize ourselves for legal purposes.

Wave 2: Keep blogs about what we are doing to start a business and hopefully get people interested in the story to want strike out on their own. Try to make more capital by selling logo'ed merchandise, additional small programs, and advertisements from Google and such. Use this money to be able to buy the rest of the software we need and maybe salaries. We have already started blogging and fixing up our templates and main page, but we need to get a tax number to sign up for Google Adsense to generate capital that way. is an example.

Wave 3: Sell our long term products via the web. Quit our day jobs and make our own business our day job.

At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can further pursue the Millionaire
The founder will be speaking this Sat.
June 18th at 9:30am-11am in the Hilton
Garden Hotel, Allen, Tx.
Ask for Tom Simmons, hope to see you there. It can be your own business.

At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Benjamin Curtis said...

I would definitely agree that making sure you continue to take small steps towards your goal is the way to go. That's what I'm doing with my project, Tesly, a web-based software testing application that will hopefully generate a little bit of revenue. Regularly adding little features here and there to make the product better keeps the motivation level up and helps the product become more useful (similar to the experience with the beginnings of

At 3:21 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Your articles have been more informative and motivating than anything else I've read lately. I've been wanting to do a book too, and it seems an immense task. Sometimes I'm afraid that I could spend tons of time writing it and then it ends up nowhere - a huge waste of my time that I could have used finding other income, or pursuing interests. However, writing a little a day and posting it to the web is an awesome's fun, it's a little at once, and I could see if the book will actually go anywhere.

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

isn't there the risk that someone will steal your book idea if you put it on the internet?

At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been to your site and I too am working very hard at adds adsense free google to increase my revenue. I am also looking into many NEW ways to utilize the design to further direct people to follow my ads.
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At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One way of getting money for a U.S. Busniess is government grants. (Most likely there is a government agency in your area who could atleast tell you where to look.) These grants can be used for licences, employee pay, and a few other general things.

At 1:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

enjoyed it - thanks

At 7:20 AM, Blogger Raja said...

Marshall, Thanks for the excellent content. I presume I am late in reading all these! I have been thinking of starting my online business for quite a while (I would have made million dollar by now!) and I am happy atleast now I have seen your blog.

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