How We Started Our Business On $200
As I mentioned in my rant about the $49 investment, we started our business with $200. When we opened our bank account, we each deposited a whopping $100. That was the only capital investment we eve made. Everything else that has ever flowed into that account has been earned - albeit, sometimes it seemed as though by rubbing 2 sticks together.
I should note: we began with no clients in hand, no stolen accounts (as most agency guys do), and no external support of any kind. It was actually kind of stupid.
So here's what we spent that first $200 on:
- 2 orange visors - one said 'defy' and the other said 'gravity'
- A label maker
- As many plastic name tags as we could afford - they were all engraved with 'Ask me how I Defy Gravity.'
I should also note - I am not recommending this as a viable strategy. I'm just reporting on what we did. It worked for us. But it may not work for you.
While deciding what to spend our money on, we wrote the first edition of "The 10 Tall Tales of Traditional Marketing" and we prepared a presentation called, at that time, "There Are 7 Bs in Remarkabbbbbbble."
When we finished those items, we donned our orange visors, packed our name tags and label makers into a little sack, and headed out to a Chamber of Commerce after hours networking event. It was the first time I had ever attended an event like that. Maybe it was Jim's 4th time. We really didn't know what to expect.
The after hours was at a bank.
When we walked in with our orange visors, people looked at us like we had just escaped from an asylum. I felt the same way. One thing was for sure - we got a lot of attention!
But we started walking up to every single person in the room who had one of those sticker name tags, and asked if we could make them a nice, permanent name tag. We had plenty of takers. We would ask them for their business cards so we could type their name into the label maker. While one of us was doing that, the other would explain that we had just finished a new ebook, etc, etc and would love to send them a copy for their feedback, etc.
At about that time, the name tag was finished, and we would pin it on and move to the next. In almost every case, the person would ask, "What do I say if someone asks how I defy gravity??"
We told them they would know the answer as soon as they finished the ebook.
That first night we signed up 55 people for the ebook. We sent the ebook as 10 separate emails over 10 days. In between chapters and at the end, we promoted our presentation - which we were offering to do for no charge.
We repeated this drill until we ran out of name tags.
After a few events, we had 200 people in our funnel - and we got a handful of takers for the presentation. And when people would respond to our emails with positive feedback, we would ask them for coffee and would try to strike up a referral relationship with them. I can't think of a single time we have directly solicited a piece of business - we've always relied on giving away information - and the solicitations come our way.
We made a goal to have coffee with 3 people every week. That quickly turned into 6 people a week. We rewarded ourselves (and our wives) when we reached that goal the first few months.
When we showed up to do the talks, we invariably received requests to talk at another group or company and received a few requests for personal meetings.
And thus began our company. Our first presentation yielded our first client. We reinvested that money directly into a small mailing that offered the ebook (we got a 6% response) and into google adwords - where we bid on marketing keywords for .25 per click.
We slowly but steadily built our list. After a few months it reached 500. Then 1000. And we have been sending relevant and valuable information to the people on that list since the first day - and continue to send it today.
From that list has come virtually every client, every referral, every fan, every valuable connection we have. And it all started with silly orange visors and plastic name tags.
As you may figure, my point here is not to brag or to simply tell a story. It's to demonstrate and PROVE that by combining creative, critical thinking, valuable expert information, and a few dollars you can promote and build a business - and ultimately begin turning a profit within a couple of months.
And if $49 is all you have - I would spend it one the third month inside the inner circle. Because most people are unable (for some reason) to come up with these ideas on their own (I've never seen anyone doing this stuff except for us and our clients). If you try and leverage the $49 with traditional thinking, you will run out of steam in about a minute and a half. But with ideas like these, you could extend that $49 into an infinite and ever growing stream of prospects.
I wish we knew then what we know now. I think we could have done it more quickly and with less effort. But nevertheless, here we are.
It's the information we have learned along the way that we provide here - for your benefit - to use and apply in your business and life.