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How One Strategy Generated $100,000 for a Stupid Idea

262,000,000. That’s the number of results the search query “how to launch an idea” generated on Google. What this means is, a lot of people are asking questions on how to launch their business ideas; but the trend with a lot of want-to-be entrepreneurs is they are waiting for the perfect website, custom-made business cards, high-end business event before they attempt to network or to afford a million-dollar business coach or start-up fund.

 
Some are also waiting to get in the perfect shape, appear on TV, buy a premium theme before starting a blog, get featured in radio or speak at celebrity events or not speak at all. I am sorry to burst your bubble but if you are waiting to launch your business, or for your idea to be picked up, you are going to wait a long time, because the world is busy. Everyone is in a rush. No one is going to put you on their radar unless you do.

 
If however, you are serious about launching your business, you can learn a thing or two from the founder of this “stupid idea.” His idea has:

• Scooped over $20,000 in profits from product sales
• Attracted high-profile networks and enjoyed media attention
• Sold at auction for $85,000

 
But guess what, this stupid idea that generated over a $100,000 in profit started with a single line of action: “He registered the business domain name.” It’s not just him. From billionaire entrepreneurs to small business owners, each one started with a single line of action.

 
– For Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, it was learning the Atari basic programming in the 1990s
– Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin, started with £200 from a necklace his mum sold.
– For Charlie Mullin, founder of Pimlico Plumbers, it was dropping out of school at the age of fifteen to start a plumbing business
– Luke Webster, the founder of Straight Razors, hand-registered a screened portfolio of straight razor and shaving domains done by his friend.
– For Hannah Edia (me!), it was launching a new blog on WordPress when I had no idea what I was doing except that I wanted to change the world.

 
If you are unsure about the strategy I will be exploring from this idea, what if I told you putting this single strategy to work can help you sign your first client or net your first profit as a business owner? You’d probably think I am crazy making this claim (I’d think I was crazy), but by the time you are done reading this post, not only would you be inspired to go launch your start-up, you will learn what to do first.

 
Presenting, my case study: Ship Your Enemies Glitter

Stupid idea + passion + action= thriving business

 
This case study is not only brilliant, but it also shows how an idea that sounds stupid to you can thrill someone else.

Stupid Idea: shipyourenemiesglitter.com
By: Matt Carpenter
Start-up Cost: $30
Profit Generated: $85,000 from sale of website; $20,000+ product sale
Total Profit: $100,000+

 
The idea behind starting Ship Your Enemies Glitter was just to create a fun site that got a bit of attention. Carpenter built the funny, profanity-laced site himself a few days after he finally registered the domain name. The total cost to get everything up and running was just under $30.00 (excluding web hosting which he already had). He then posted a link to Reddit and took a few other insignificant steps to promote it, and then went on vacation with a friend. Within hours, he had hundreds of orders and was burning up Reddit. He turned around his car mid-vacation to go check on the project.

 
“At this point, I was completely unprepared. There were no envelopes, no glitter, nor had I even started writing the letter that was supposed to go inside,” he recounts on his blog.

 

Don’t underestimate a stupid idea – Matt Carpenter.

 
#STRATEGY: Start Stupid!

Matt’s “stupid idea” motivated him enough to take action:

• Buy the domain
• Set up a website
• Post the link on Reddit
• Some marketing

 
What happened stunned him as that little gimmick turned to thousands of orders from all around the world. For him, this was the most stupid idea, ever, but he decided to give it a try.
One thing that many fail to notice is that though his idea was stupid (and he delayed it a long time because he thought so too), he had a little belief; a little faith. If not, he wouldn’t even have set up a website. But after the website, it got more interesting, and then he put it up on Reddit and the rest, they say, is history.

 
You know you have a great idea but are you refusing to launch because you are convinced it sounds stupid? Is everyone saying to you how crazy you are and how you are better off spending your time elsewhere? Well, that’s a pointer that you are on to something. Almost every remarkable entrepreneur that I’ve heard of used this strategy of starting out stupid. Robert Kiyosaki had the opportunity to get a well-paying job but he refused to take it, (talk about stupid!) to pursue his own business. When Ryan Levesque left his job on Wall Street where he lived a comfortable life complete with a driver and domestic staff, to start an online business, some may have thought, how stupid; but he was convinced that there was an alternate world out there and he went for it. Today, Levesque and his wife, Tylene run a marketing agency/coaching program; has written a book and is expecting to finish the year with their businesses having earned about $5 million.

 
Pssst, even if your idea is not so great after all, it is still better to start stupid, than sit ducks, hoping one day, you’ll be picked up.

 

It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves – Andre Gide.

 
Why Start Stupid?

1. Starting stupid is adventurous. You are not disappointed if your launch flops. It helps you test the waters and develops your strong will to succeed as an entrepreneur.
2. Starting stupid involves less risk. There is a little risk because you can launch out with as little as $100 to purchase a domain name and buy some office supplies. You might not even need up to $100, assuming that you passed your idea through the “RCMP” test. (More about this later).
3. Starting stupid serves as a reference for future acknowledgement. Louis L’Amour received 200 rejections before Bantam took a chance on him. He is now their best ever selling author with 330 million sales. Don’t you just feel in awe of the author?
4. Starting stupid can test the value of your business idea. Little risk is involved, so you are more open to corrections and adjustments to improve your business
5. Starting stupid makes you more profit in the long run. People start to pay you for your experience. As Albert Camus rightly said, “you cannot create an experience; you must undergo it.” Your future clients want to avoid failure at all cost and you become their go-to-expert in your niche.

 
Action Steps

1. Use this strategy to launch your start-up if;

• You are unsure what business to launch
• You are positive you are on to something but can’t quite place it yet
• You want to test an idea to see it’s a reception

 
2. Pass it through the RCMP Test
This is a method that I developed and have adopted to launch my service business as a writer. It has been very effective and has saved me a lot of headaches over the years.

Realistic . How realistic is your idea? What are the odds that you can achieve the goals you set for this business? You might have a good idea for a start-up, but except the idea is one that you can realistically achieve, you should drop it in your idea bank and go back to it later.

Can Do. There are ideas that are commercially viable, but too large a scale for an early stage entrepreneur to embark on. Businesses that involve import and export, for example, might have good future earnings, but you face potential risk. A better way to approach such business is to apprentice under someone who has been at it for long and learn the ropes before venturing into such business. And since we are starting stupid anyways, try to stay away from businesses that have huge risk and loss of money, in case anything goes wrong. Take it from Seth Godin: if your app will not be successful unless it receives a million download, it is probably a bad idea.

Marketable. When I say marketable to a start-up, what I mean is, if everyone you know would do anything to get the latest Calvin Klein but you are determined it’s the food business or nothing. Chances are, you will have a hard time marketing to your contacts because you are making this about what you want and not what they want. Not that you necessarily need to satisfy the desire of those around you, but if you are concerned about cash flow, especially if marketing is not your strong point, it will take a longer time to build a new round of customers. Your shortcut is your contact list!

Pay Power. This is critical. Your idea is only as good so far your niche market can pay for what you are offering them. That was what Matt Carpenter had going for him. At the $9.99 price point, anyone could afford to ship their enemies glitter.

 
3. Tell a Hundred people about it. The number “100” is a special number. I chose that number as a standard because it is used widely to recognize the best in the industry. We have:

– Forbes 100 most influential
– Inc. 100
– FTSE 100
– RER 100 companies

 
Write down everyone you know and share your ideas with them. If you do not have up to a hundred people on your contact list, try attending networking events and relate more on social media. Linkedin especially can help you build your business contact list. Your contact “100” can lead to either your first client or getting a referral or conducting surveys to improve your products/service.

 
To further make your list of “a hundred” more effective, you should target these three types of people. They will put your business ideas on a fast-track. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm stated that for an idea to spread, it needs the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts:

 
Connectors: are the people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. A connector is essentially the social equivalent of a computer network hub. They usually know people across an array of social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and make a habit of introducing people who work or live in different circles. These are the people that will “link you up” with influencers, prospects, and clients.

 
Mavens: are “information specialists”, or “people we rely upon to connect us with new information”. They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others. Get a maven talking about your business and watch it go viral.

 
Salesmen: Mavens are data banks. They provide the message. Connectors are social glue: they spread it. Salesmen have the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing, and they are as critical to the spreading the word about your business as the other two groups.

 
Take it from an entrepreneur who started out stupid — you can launch a successful business even if you think your idea is stupid because the concept of starting stupid is simple:

Take what you have and just do it!

 
This is a guest post by Hannah Edia, a freelance writer who is focused on helping you create, launch and grow your business with content that positions you as an authority in your field of expertise.

 

Comments

2 responses to “How One Strategy Generated $100,000 for a Stupid Idea”

  1. Oludami Avatar
    Oludami

    Hi Hannah,
    Nice stuff here. I was seeing myself in your words.

    I also started out as a freelance writer in 2012 because I was motivated by Bamidele Onibalusi (whom I found through this blog!).

    Then I started a blog ‘stupidly’ not having an idea what to really do with it…all because Oni attracts writing clients via blogging.

    For the first one year, I didn’t make a penny. Only enjoyed some exchange services arrangement, like writing for web design.

    I hesitated renewing my hosting & domain name after the 1st year, but I did anyways. That same month, MSN Africa hired me for their Nigerian platform. Then I stupidly (real stupidity this time) ignored marketing myself. Law school affected me tho’. But there really are no excuses!

    MSN Nigeria left Nigeria (literally) and I was out of work after 8 months. But I was wise enough to pay premium to learn copywriting from AWAI.

    I later started making some very inconsistent (yet low) income. But I never for once stopped developing myself and having ‘stupid’ ideas. (And also rejected a lot of full-time copywriting job offers from big and small names around Nigeria.)

    Long story short; in my blog’s 3rd year anniversary (just this month) I became a multiple-6-figure-monthly (in naira) copywriter! With MANY clients still wanting to work with me (and losing many at negotiation stage).

    My blog is still quack (my Alexa rank is over 3million…lol) but it got me (coupled with dear LinkedIn) most of my current clients who are from around the world (especially UK, Nigeria and South Africa).

    Never despise ‘stupid’ beginnings, folks! Veteran freelance writer Carol Tice called her own journey into successful writing business “idiotic”. But it’s brought her this far!

    Thanks for this blueprint to greatness, Hannah. I still have a lot of ‘stupid’ ideas to try!

    PS: Readers should be careful though. Validate and test your ‘stupid’ ideas so much [with all Hannah has said, especially with real people (your contacts), and also her RCMP formula] before you launch into the market. Even ‘great’ ideas fail flat because only the owners thought they were great.

    1. Hannah Avatar
      Hannah

      Oludami, good points. No one ever started out perfect and that is why it’s important to never give up.
      I’m glad you didn’t.

      AWAI is a great platform to learn copywriting. Glad you are getting results and congratulations on the multiple six-figure income!

      Thank you for reading and commenting Oludami. Let me know if you need anything with your blog.

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