Engineering a “Muse” – Volume 4: Case Studies of Successful Cash-Flow Businesses

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The Square36 yoga mat earns $10,000-$25,000 per month for Bob Maydonik.

One common challenge for readers of The 4-Hour Workweek is the creation of a “muse”: a low-maintenance business that generates significant income. Such a muse is leveraged to finance your ideal lifestyle, which we calculate precisely based on Target Monthly Income (TMI).

I’ve received hundreds of successful case studies via e-mail, and more than 1,000 new businesses were created during last year’s Shopify competition (If you haven’t already, sign up for this year’s contest here), but I’ve presented only a handful of them.

In this installment, I’ll showcase three diverse muses, including lessons learned, what worked, and what didn’t. Income ranges from $1,000 – $25,000 per month…

“Square 36” by Bob Maydonik

Describe your muse in 1-3 sentences.
Oversize yoga mat.

What is the website for your muse?
http://www.square36.com

How much revenue is your muse currently generating per month (on average)?
$10,000 – $25,000 per month

To get to this monthly revenue number, how long did it take after the idea struck?
1.5 years

How did you decide on this muse?
I was doing P90X and was annoyed by how inadequate my typical yoga mat was. My good friend, who is also an entrepreneur, convinced me that we should give Tim’s formula a try. So we plugged our big yoga mat concept into the 4HWW business model, and that’s how everything got started.

What ideas did you consider but reject, and why?
We thought about doing a free-standing pull-up bar (and we’re actually still considering this). We also considered rings that could be attached in a door way frame for doing pull-ups, like gymnastic rings for home-based workouts. We rejected the rings for a few reasons: (1) RingTraining.com was already doing it, and (2) we were going to have to deal with a few different manufacturers to have one product made. It was too complicated and wasn’t worth the hassle. More importantly, the market for ring trainers is much smaller than the market for yoga mats.

What were some of the main tipping points (if any) or “A-ha!” moments? How did they come about?
Sorry, no major tipping point moments for us. We’re both entrepreneurs and were already part of the New Rich!

What resources or tools did you find most helpful when you were getting started?
Alibaba.com to source our manufacturer. We also really lucked out with Google Adwords. Google built our Adwords campaign for us, then they gave us seed money credit to launch it… all for free.

What were your biggest mistakes, or biggest wastes of time/money?
Our biggest mistake occurred when we ordered our first 20 prototypes. We bought a large roll of PVC mat and asked the yoga supply wholesaler who we bought it from to cut them into 6′ x 6′ mats. If you look on this yoga wholesaler’s website now, you’ll see they totally ripped off our idea (they took a picture of our mat) and took credit for it. We dealt with this by changing the color of our mat to black, amping up the density and thickness, then de-bossing it with our logo. Luckily, the wholesaler has done a crappy job marketing his product. I don’t think he’s affected our sales too much, but it’s still a piss-off.

What have been your key marketing and/or manufacturing lessons learned?
Key manufacturing lesson: Guangxhi (Mandarin for ‘connection’). This is how the Chinese do business. When you meet, you talk about your family for two hours, then discuss pricing/terms for the last 10 minutes. If you go out for beers with the factory manager, you will get way better pricing/terms.

Marketing lesson: it matters what time of day your ads appear. Most people aren’t shopping online during their workday. Ads that appear on weekday nights are best.

Also, incorporating the cost of shipping into our price and advertising “FREE SHIPPING” has been pretty effective for our Google Adwords campaign.

If you used a manufacturer, how did you find them? What are your suggestions for first-timers?
We found our manufacturer using Alibaba. My suggestion is to find a minimum of three manufacturers who can make what you want. If you’re dealing in China, there’s a good chance all of your manufacturers will be in the same town (different towns seem to specialize in manufacturing one type of product). Go and visit with them all personally. Chinese manufacturers will almost always tell you that they can do what you want, but when you actually meet with them in-person and show them what you want, 2/3 of them will not be capable of producing your product. We visited five factories for our mat, all of which assured us through e-mail that they could produce our product. Only one of the five factories actually could.

Any key PR wins? Media, well-known users, or company partnerships, etc.? How did they happen?
The New Rules of Marketing and PR” by David Meerman Scott is a killer book on PR/media. However, we haven’t really done a lot of PR/media stuff for Square36. We focused a lot of energy on retail after reading “This Business has Legs” about the ThighMaster. We will be testing in 10 Costco stores across Canada, and are also in negotiations with another large Canadian retailer.

Where did you register your domain (URL)?
http://netfirms.com

Where did you decide to host your domain?
http://bluehost.com

If you used a web designer, where did you find them?
I was lucky: my web designer was my former next-door neighbor.

If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I’d probably pick a product that’s easier to ship. A 6′ x 6′ yoga mat that weighs ten pounds is not as easy to ship as a pair of shoes or a DVD. Plus, you can fit a much smaller product in a Sea-Can, which would be a nice savings.

What’s next?!
Counting dollars and sending Tim a mat🙂 Thanks for the inspiration.

[NOTE: Readers of this blog get a discount on Bob’s yoga mats with the coupon code ‘tferriss’]

“iFlip Wallet” by Vincent Ko

Describe your muse in 1-3 sentences.
The iFlip is a niche product that combines the style of a leather iPhone case with the functionality of a flip wallet. Our product is for minimalist iPhone owners who are looking to carry everything in one package.

What is the website for your muse?
http://iFlipWallet.com

How much revenue is your muse currently generating per month (on average)?
$1,000 – $2,500 per month

To get to this monthly revenue number, how long did it take after the idea struck?
3 months

How did you decide on this muse?
Right before returning for my senior year of college, I received an iPhone as a birthday present. Form-fitting jeans were the style around campus and having pockets bulging with an iPhone and thick wallet looked pretty stupid. I evaluated whether I needed all the items in my wallet, and came to the realization that the only things I really needed to carry around on a daily basis were my ID, credit card, a $20 bill, and my iPhone. That’s when I envisioned an iPhone case that also acted as a wallet. When I went online and couldn’t find that type of product, I decided to create it myself.

What ideas did you consider but reject, and why?
Prior to reading the 4HWW, I was actually selling fold-up beer pong tables online. It was a fun product to sell as a college student. However, beer pong tables are huge and heavy. Logistics and shipping from a rented out warehouse soon became too much of a hassle. Along with growing competitors, import tariffs, and shrinking margins, I knew I had to call it quits on a profitable business. The time spent was not equal to the financial output. I traded-in 30 pound beer pong tables for 3 oz. iPhone wallets.

What were some of the main tipping points (if any) or “A-ha!” moments? How did they come about?
My A-ha moment was the first time I went online searching for an iPhone wallet. When I found the only product out there was an iPhone case that looked like a mini-purse, a light bulb went off: create an iPhone wallet case that guys would want to buy.

What resources or tools did you find most helpful when you were getting started?
The best resource was learning directly from other muse owners and entrepreneurs. For instance, Mixergy.com does a great job of putting out interviews with entrepreneurs who have been successful. Taking those nuggets of wisdom and implementing them into my business has been extremely helpful. This includes everything from tactics for increasing conversion, tracking statistics, sales language, and more.

What were your biggest mistakes, or biggest wastes of time/money?
The biggest marketing lesson I learned was: you have to get your product in front of people searching for it. Initially, I was advertising on iPhone-related sites. It was only after I invested money into getting my site in front of people specifically searching for “iPhone Wallet” was I successful. This naturally led to me working on SEO for particular keywords.

If you used a manufacturer, how did you find them? What are your suggestions for first-timers?
I found my manufacturer on Alibaba. My suggestion for first-timers is to find the supplier that currently manufactures a product as close to the product you are envisioning, then tweak that product to fit your specifications. I found that creating a custom product from scratch was not only hard to communicate but very expensive. The iFlip was actually a modification of an iPhone case that my manufacturer was already producing.

Any key PR wins? Media, well-known users, or company partnerships, etc.? How did they happen?
I was able to get my product featured on some iPhone accessory blogs by creating a template e-mail and sending out custom messages to sites I thought would be interested. I told all of them that I was a college student who had created a unique product that solved a simple problem.

Where did you register your domain (URL)?
http://www.netfirms.com

Where did you decide to host your domain?
http://www.netfirms.com

If you used a web designer, where did you find them?
I actually designed the site myself. I took a template I purchased at ThemeForest.net for $15 and tweaked the text and images in Dreamweaver. However, I did hire help for SEO. I found two people on oDesk to create backlinks and submit the site to directories.

If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I have a short video that demonstrates my product. After putting it on my site, sales increased by 25%. I believe that potential customers who see your product in-action not only understand it better but are also more inclined to purchase. If I were to do it again, I would have implemented the video sooner.

What’s next?!
Creating more muses! The iFlip was developed by creating a product I wanted for myself but currently was not on the market. I have teamed up with a college buddy to create several new muses. The key is that we only create products we would use, then we strategically think about the best way to market the product to ourselves. It is a fun process🙂

“Keynotopia” by Amir Khella


Describe your muse in 1-3 sentences.
User interface libraries for turning Apple Keynote and Microsoft Powerpoint into interactive prototyping tools.

What is the website for your muse?
http://www.keynotopia.com

How much revenue is your muse currently generating per month (on average)?
$5,000 – $10,000 per month

To get to this monthly revenue number, how long did it take after the idea struck?
3 hours

How did you decide on this muse?
I’d been creating and using these libraries for awhile in my consulting gigs, but wasn’t sure they would be useful to anyone else. One day, I was playing around with my iPad and challenged myself to prototype something in 30 minutes. I did, and it worked on the iPad almost flawlessly.

I wanted to do a quick test to see if this would be useful to anyone else, so I wrote a step-by-step blog post and created a video showing the end result. I also included a downloadable zip file containing the iPad interface library with the blog post. Three weeks later, I had over 10,000 views on the post and over 500 downloads of the archive file. One evening, I thought about prototyping a quick website to see if anyone would buy the libraries if I charged for them. Three hours later, I had a premium WordPress theme linked with an e-junkie shopping cart and I posted a link at the bottom of the original blog post.

The website made its first sale after roughly 10 minutes of being online (The original version of the site looked too ugly – at least for me, as a designer – that I thought about pulling it down, but that first sale told me otherwise).

The full story behind this experiment can be found here.

What ideas did you consider but reject, and why?
Developing plug-ins for Keynote and Powerpoint. I wanted a product with a very low barrier-to-entry so I could quickly test it, and these templates were the fastest. Now I can confidently develop these plug-ins, knowing that I already have hundreds of paying customers who can use them.

What were some of the main tipping points (if any) or “A-ha!” moments? How did they come about?
The biggest tipping point was waking up one day to find more money in my bank account. That was a paradigm shift, as my income was no longer coupled with my time. Instead of consulting/freelancing (trading time for money), I had invested some upfront time to create a system that worked hard for me.

Here are a few other “A-ha!” moments:

– Realizing the first prototype doesn’t need to look pretty, it just needs to work. Instead of spending days (potentially weeks) reinventing the wheel and creating my own e-commerce site, I just bought something that was good enough and tried it out. Total cost: $47.50 ($5 hosting, $7.50 domain, and $35 WordPress theme).

– People buy benefits: if it weren’t for the original blog post, I doubt that I’d have 1/100 of the sales I have now. The blog post continues to be the highest traffic generator for the site, because it shows people what they get out of the product (not just how they can use it).

– Aggressive testing: For Keynotopia’s landing page, I tested over 29 iterations for the copy and layout, reducing the bounce rate from 59% to 12% in less than 30 days.

– Byproducts can be profitable: The UI libraries had been sitting on my hard drive for months before I’d decided to share them. I didn’t consciously sit down to create a business by making the libraries and selling them; they came as a byproduct of working with clients, and all I needed to do was to create a system that delivered them.

What resources or tools did you find most helpful when you were getting started?
WordPress + Premium themes
Google website optimizer
e-Junkie
TextMate (Mac)

What were your biggest mistakes, or biggest wastes of time/money?
Banner ads. They don’t generate much traffic (compared with AdWords) because they are placed in websites/blogs where people are already distracted by other information, and may not be actively looking for a solution.

What have been your key marketing and/or manufacturing lessons learned?
Great free content (blog posts + videos) converts better than $1000’s in advertising.

Any key PR wins? Media, well-known users, or company partnerships, etc.? How did they happen?
The libraries have been mentioned by some of the top UI designers (including a blog mention from Adaptive Path). I basically reached out to bloggers who had written similar content, left them thoughtful comments, and sometimes shared a free copy of the libraries with them. In the beginning, almost nothing happened, but then the mentions started to snowball.

Giving away a freebie on a well-known blog has helped tremendously with building a strong rank on Google. I gave away a simplified version of the libraries on SmashingMagazine (one of the top design blogs in the world), they wrote a post about it, and it literally brought down the server.

Finally, sharing the story behind the product helps too. I wrote a blog post on how I prototyped the product and it was on the homepage of Hacker News for more than 24 hours. Again, lots of traffic and good back-links.

Where did you register your domain (URL)?
http://godaddy.com

Where did you decide to host your domain?
http://1and1.com

If you used a web designer, where did you find them?
Nope. Just a premium WordPress template.

If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Do it much earlier. I waited too long to build up enough confidence and discover that what I had built was useful enough to sell.

What’s next?!
Having paying customers is great because they send all kinds of questions and requests. I have great customer service (I personally reply to all emails and tweets), and I have a long wish-list of what they’d like me to build next!

###

Do you have a successful muse that’s generating more than $1,000 per month?

Please tell me about it! If it stands out (meaning you give specific details of lessons learned and what’s worked vs. what didn’t), I’m happy to promote you and help further increase your revenue. If you qualify and this sounds like fun, please fill out this form.

Both physical and digital goods are welcome, as are services, as long as they’re low-maintenance, income-generating “muses” as described in The 4-Hour Workweek.

Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series can be found here.

Posted on: September 12, 2011.

The Tim Ferriss Show is generally the #1 business podcast on iTunes, and it was selected for iTunes' "Best of 2015." Each episode deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use. If you want to 10x your productivity, click here.

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167 comments on “Engineering a “Muse” – Volume 4: Case Studies of Successful Cash-Flow Businesses

  1. I never get enough of these case studies. Thank you so much Tim!!! I’ve been brainstorming ideas for the past couple weeks now. So far 3 suppliers that I’ve tried contacting though alibaba have yet to get back to me. The 4hww has changes my entire outlook on life! I really want to implement the strategies so people I’m close to will start to believe its more than just hype. Any tips on contacting manufacturers? Am I supposed to send them a query letter? I’m always a little confused as to what exactly to say.

    Like

  2. Branden,

    If you are in the US, it’s not a bad idea to check with manufacturers here in the US, you could have a prototype made and then check costs to have it built overseas. Furthermore, I would just send them an email or skype them. A timeframe of when they should contact you should be included in the letter as this will give them a sense of urgency.

    Cheers

    Jose

    Like

  3. Thank you Tim for this great post. No other part of your blog is as inspiring as Engineering a Muse. I’m working on mine now thanks to you and so is my dad.

    Thank you,

    Rebecca

    Like

  4. This is a sweet post Tim,
    I especially love the fact that 2 out of the 3 ideas are really adhering to the 4HWW principles and generating a great monthly income within only a few months of set up.

    Like

  5. Wow – great ideas and great detailed information! Thank you so much for gathering this information and thank you to the people providing the case studies!

    Like

  6. Tim,

    Thank you for the continued inspirtation and real life examples of cash flow muses. I loved the Iflip wallet!

    I am still plugging away with my books, earning money each month for the two of them. I recently added his/her single downloads to the kindle and nook formats, and am finishing up some audiobook versions as well. I am hoping to get a PR breakthrough here soon that will launch my own lucrative idea into the forefront.

    Keep up the good work!

    Darren Michaels
    Fellow Author and huge fan

    Like

  7. Very cool case studies – thanks for sharing!

    My question is for the owner of the company in the first case study – how did you hook up the Google Adwords project? PPC is an area I’ve experimented with and failed on, so getting expert help setting up a campaign would be really useful.

    Thanks, and congrats to all these successful business owners!

    Like

  8. Branden,
    For suppliers in China, an alternative to alibaba.com is the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (hktdc.com). For me the best way is to mail hard-copy letters AND email. On hktdc you can contact them through the website. They get tons of emails a day so its best to use both methods to make sure they hear from you. Also, I think there’s something about a mailed paper letter that just comes across as more professional. The letter should include your address, phone, fax, email, skype, etc. Whichever method they use to respond will be the method for further correspondence.

    Also, I would put in the letter as much detail about your product as possible, what niche you’re trying to fill, why you think the product has potential. Ideally, you should have feedback from potential customers that you can convey to the suppliers. The best suppliers get requests from all over the world so you need to stand out in some way and convince them that working with you is worth their time.

    I would also contact AS MANY suppliers as possible, as only a fraction will respond. I sent letters to almost 40 suppliers and heard back from almost half of them. Also, for some suppliers, they replied (by email) when they received my paper letter even though my email was received by them two weeks prior.

    If they’re interested, they will either ask for a sample or designs/drawings so that they can make a sample.

    I’m still finalizing my designs for them. I was actually surprised by how quickly they responded that I felt I may have jumped the gun and contacted them too soon! Now I really need to get to work!

    Good luck!

    Like

  9. Has anyone got any examples of information products that are non-techy that are making more than $5000 a month? If so, how long did it take to make this kind of money and what advertising methods did you use? Any tips and tricks for someone new to this musing?!🙂

    Like

  10. Hey Tim, keep doing what you’re doing, your an inspiration.

    About muse creation, has anyone here created a physical product (like Lapdawg as an example) as their own muse? If so, how did you handle prototyping?

    I have a muse idea on my head that I would love to create as I am in the market for it, but I have no idea how to tackle the prototyping phase of it.

    Did you hire anyone to create the design for you in a modelling application and sent it to a manufacture? If so, how did you find that person and what skills were you looking for? And how is prototyping handled by the manufacturer?

    Thanks in advance and keep rocking🙂
    Joao

    Like

    • Joao, I can tell you about how I went through my prototyping experience to give you some idea on how to get started.

      I had an idea for an accessory for the DJ HERO game console. I did not do anything with it past prototype and a website, which was good because DJ HERO is a dead gaming console today.

      The accessory were little rubber adhesive pads that attached to the current hard plastic buttons on the console. The console buttons were too “slippery” for you to really get a good “dj scratch” movement on the turntable so I wanted to build pads that killed the smoothness and provided more grip.

      I measured the size of the existing buttons using a friend who had a machine shop who took out a dial ruler scale to measure it’s dimensions.

      I needed to create a “die” stamp to cut the adhesive pads out to that shape so I needed the dimensions. I took the dimensions to a local machine shop (a different one from the one that helped me measure it because he did not have time to do a prototype deal for me). I had to call 3-5 of them to see who would take me. Who ended up taking me was a local shop where the owner was just completely into his art/business of cutting metal. He gave me a tour of his facility as a plus!

      Anyway, I gave him the dimensions and 2 weeks later, he had cut these 2 die’s (I needed 2 different sized pads) out of solid aluminum blocks. I then purchased a hand press to mount the die to the bottom of it and punch/cut out the adhesive pads. They worked like a charm. But again, I never took it to market because there was no market.

      Long post, hope it helps.

      Ray

      Like

      • Hi everyone,

        Read all four parts of ‘Engineering a Muse’ last night and have spent the morning rapidly scribbling and sketching down ideas for products instead of going and walking around the awesome Lobrang Monastery…the process became so feverent that I feared I night be insane…

        Anyway, my questions relate to design. I have no experience of designing a physical product for manufacture and my drawings look like they were done during an epileptic fit. Could I outsource the design? Anybody ever done that? How’d you stop ’em nicking your idea, would an NDA help?

        Yours in utter confusion,

        Andy

        Like

  11. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for the case studies. They are useful…but they tend to be based on creating a manufactured product.

    Can you post (more) case studies of muses where people have had success with a knowledge/information based muse? That’s what I’m working towards.

    More of those types would be very helpful and inspiring.

    Thanks, Stephen.

    Like

  12. Got my juices going again. I was thinking abou similar concept to the iflip but completely different🙂 I think I will begin looking into this again! Great post.

    Ken.

    Like

  13. Tim

    Thanks for these eye opening case studies. They show how the
    4 hourworkweek principals work in the real world. Looking for more muse examples soon.

    Leonard

    Like

    • I agree Graham, I have no idea what it does/is either even after watching a few of the videos. I even looked up prototyping etc to figure it out, but I still don’t get it. It looks cool though!

      Like

    • @Graham and @ Missy Holden
      I too didn’t quite get what the author meant by ‘prototyping’ until I watched the video and heard the word ‘app’ – light bulb on!

      Ok, so in terms that I myself understand, it seems that Keynotopia lets you create mock-ups of how your proposed app will look, and work, when finished. The USP appears to be that Keynotopia supplies standard components (libraries) as part of the templates, to allow us non-designers to create these mock-ups in presentation software, as opposed to more complex software packages such as those is Adobe CS or similar… did I get that about right, Amir? Great product, by the way – once I worked out what it was, I loved it!

      @Tim – this post is an inspiration, and has motivated me to MAKE time to re-read 4HWW and get my hands dirty this time!

      Like

  14. Hi Tim

    I have exchanged a few emails with Amy and although this comment is not specifically linked to this blog post, she suggested I post you my question here.

    I read this quote from Robert Redford in Inc Magaine from 2003: “When you have the good fortune to have success in your life that is precisely the time you should reinvent yourself. You should go right back to zero as though nothing had happened and start over. Because you can get real stale. You call fall in love with yourself or get to that danger point when you could ride on that success or try to repeat it.”

    I love the idea of never being done, of going right back to zero and starting over… And I was wondering, what would it be for you to reinvent yourself? What’s after the 4 hour work week, body and chef…? What if you were starting from zero? Who would you be?

    Love to hear you thoughts…

    Have a fab week!

    Gemma

    Like

  15. Good Post.

    While this post is very informative, but I’m still waiting for a post for those who are still trying but failing. Let’s face it. For every success story, there are 99 people who have are failing to realize their 4 hour week business.
    It can be a real downer to see these successful people and think “they are doing it, making it work. why am I not succeed thing? Is it talent, is it time management, is it the marketing, is it the concept? what am I doing wrong?”
    Yes, failing and getting up again is important. But failing sucks. And I wish there was a post for struggling people as well.

    Like

  16. Tim, you could put these case studies out for the rest of your blog life and I would be ecstatic. This is how I am learning to build my muse: through reading these posts.

    More more more!

    Like

  17. That’s troubling, that the yoga mat guy said most of the Chinese factories who claimed they could make it couldn’t, and it took a face-to-face physical meeting to learn that fact. Are they trying to boost tourism by lying about production abilities!?

    Like

    • Having worked with China for over twenty years, we have found that personal contact with the owner(s) of the factory is of paramount importance.

      Before making the visit, I would sincerely suggest the following:

      1. Know something about recent Chinese history and economic development but don’t knock it!
      2. Read up on how to do business in China. Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” is a must.
      3. Learn a few words in Chinese; it is very much appreciated and shows you are interested in them.
      4. Remember that the U.S.A. and/or Europe are NOT God’s gift to the world. In Chinese, China is called Zhongguo or “Middle (of the world) Kingdom.”

      Lastly, a lot of Chinese customs are completely different to western ones. Whilst there, try to respect them, don’t knock them. And, if you can learn to use chop sticks before you go, you will amaze your suppliers and command their respect!

      Carl-Robert

      Like

      • Great point Carl-Robert! I would add two more suggestions: u der stand the importance of ‘saving face’ and Chinese concept of contracts.

        ‘Face’ or others perception of one’s reputation is extremely important. I have been involved in deals where successful Chinese business people have pulled out of profitable deals,or taken a loss rather than look bad before superiors, seniors or others they respect, in other words it can be more important than profit to some.

        Chinese view a contract as a living document. In the West once negotiate a deal and have contract, if other side breaches we tend to go right to lawsuits, etc. in China, if factory runs into supply or other issue and can’t meet contractual terms, they expect partner ( think this best describes their view of other party to contract vs our more adversarial view) to work with them by accepting late or short delivery, rather then claim breach of on tract and trying to get out of the deal.

        I say this based on 20+ years of experience as international trade and business attorney.

        As original post and this comment mention, getting to know you partner and genuine interest in their family and business are key first steps.

        Like

    • Amir, I am a bit late with this, but your story is an inspiration. Thank you for sharing with Tim so he could share it with all of us. Best of luck – you deserve bucketloads of future success.

      Like

  18. Tim,

    Great blog post.

    First I’d like to ask a simple question about the expert building section in your 4 Hour Workweek book: when you say “Give a one-to-three hour hour seminar at the closest well-known university, using posters to advertise” do you mean as a guest lecturer (as you did at Princeton,) or being invited to speak by a student club, or just borrowing a room for a seminar without any prior authorization (assuming authorization is not necessary)?

    How connected to the university’s academic system does this seminar have to be?

    I like your engineering the muse blog series; I enjoy reading about lean startups making due and succeeding with minimal resources.

    Like the above poster, I would like to see an muse case study about an information product, as your book mentions that this is possible muse with minimal initial resources necessary with potential for a great impact.

    I really like this series; I appreciate your analytical approach to goal achievement, as though it were an engineering challenge.

    Respectfully yours,
    Aaron Fung

    Like

  19. Tremendous Post Tim!

    One question regarding the first case study:

    Bob talked about Google building their AdWords Campaign for them and giving them seed credit. I have never heard about this. Do you have some more information about how that works?

    Cheers

    Like

  20. The article is interesting, but the free shipping coupon code for the yoga mat made me feel like a pawn when right in the interview the guy mentioned:

    “Also, incorporating the cost of shipping into our price and advertising ‘FREE SHIPPING’ has been pretty effective for our Google Adwords campaign.”

    Like

  21. I love hearing these examples.

    I personally kind of lucked into my current position. The owner of my gym does some pretty popular training videos. I ended up just advising him over time, rebuilding his site, helping with product launch strategy, etc. until I could make him enough additional revenue that he could start paying me.

    Just helping out one guy basically because we were friends, has led to a full time job (a few hours per week), and I’m picking up his friends as clients.

    While I’m still doing some technical work myself, I’m able to scale my efforts out because small improvements in an already successful business make larger revenue impact. Where we need labor intensive work, it goes to the automated tools or cheaper labor.

    Advice for those looking to do consulting: just talk to people, help them, be a nice guy, and if you’re good at what you do, people will want to work with you.

    Like

    • Nice advice, Allen. I contacted my former boss. They have some technical needs but they don’t have the budget to hire a consultant. What I did is offer my service for free (yes, FREE). I am not sure but I am really hoping that this will yield some good benefits in the future🙂

      Like

  22. After reading 4HWW, I’ve been racking my brain for a Muse that is greater than $50 per unit retail (as suggested by Tim). It’s good to see that the little Muses get some love too! Thanks for these case studies!

    Like

  23. You used to ask the muse creator what it cost to produce the muse. that is the most important part. You didn’t do that this time(tht I saw). Why not?

    Like

  24. Hello!

    I’m sort of new to this. So once you come up with the idea for an item, you get a manufacturer to make it for you? Then you see if it sells well?

    So, I don’t have to actually make the product in a garage to show before they duplicate it?

    Like

  25. BT Dubbs – I just scooped up the “Tri of Excellence” on amazon:

    1. Four Hour Body (being in the fitness arena myself, I’ve stutter stepped buying this one)
    2. FHWW “New Edition” (Weeell overdue to get the updated version!)
    3. Letters from a Stoic (I’ve heard you mention this WAY too many times to let another day go by reading it :))

    You the man. Looking forward to my snail mail gifts!

    Oh! and if anyone reads this, I just booked a flight from DC to Lima, Peru to hike to Machu Picchu for $350!! A little travel hacking job I thought I’d let peeps know about.

    Rock it out!

    Patrick Hitches

    Like

  26. Hi Tim,

    Apologies for this being largely unrelated to the (super interesting) blog post but its not easy to get in touch any other way!! You said that an offhand comment from a student inspired you to write the 4HWW, so here’s another, I hope its of interest…

    Just as you describe in the 4HWW there are skills and meta-skills, which apply to the process of learning, the same is true for ideas: there are revolutionary ideas and then there are revolutionary meta-ideas (such as the patent system) which apply to the process of idea generation.

    In my economics thesis I made up a ‘prize principle’: which states that for prizes rewarding innovation, the amount spent on R&D vastly exceeds the sum of the prize offered. With this in mind here’s my idea for a global innovation prize fund:

    • A REALLY BIG target of $$$ is set for the collective innovation prize fund. This great big fund is divided into lots of innovation prizes (maybe 100+), as decided upon by the brightest and best in the industries who agree upon the necessary criteria, which would stand a chance of undoing the damage and leading to a potentially sustainable future.

    • • Big multinational companies would pledge a % of their profit/revenue towards the collective pool of innovation prize money on the conditions that:

    1) All money would be returned if the initially stated target $ was not reached. In return the contributing companies would get to use the prize ‘logo’ as a badge to show their dedication to change and CSR.

    2) All pledges would be returned if no innovation was discovered within the specified time period but companies still get to say they contributed all the same.

    • • • This might sounds far-fetched (it is of course) but if Yvon Chouinard persuaded 1,300 companies to contribute over $50m in his genius ‘1% for the world’ campaign, would bigger companies not be willing to do the same? Especially if a) there was a high chance they’d actually get their money back. B) It signals to shareholders that they intend to be around for a long time; C) they are sending a message to their customers saying: “We collectively realise that we’ve messed up the environment and now we’re collectively doing something about it.”

    • • • • With these prizes, not only the image of firms but also the reputational/prestige incentive would boost the innovating teams. A kind of ecosystem might be created around the prizes – other innovations could serendipitously occur, which might not fit the prize criteria, but are nonetheless really useful. Pledging companies might even undertake research themselves in an effort to ‘win their money back plus extra’ or governments might jump on the bandwagon and pump subsidies into R&D in an effort to ‘out-innovate’ other countries – as they did during the great space race for instance.

    • • • • • The most fascinating finding from the few prizes that have occurred in the past is that most competing entrants spend MANY TIMES the prize money. For instance, in the Ansari prize, 26 teams collectively spent over $100million for a $10million prize! Crazy but true! In the event that an innovation is made – it would be released open-source into the international public domain. Currently only $315 million is available through philanthropic prizes. It seems ludicrous that almost all are offered for prototypes for flying to space as opposed to scalable ideas that would make a genuine difference! If there are two types of creativity: making 0 -> 1 and making 1 –> 1000, the innovation prizes would probably have to focus upon the latter, so that when released open source, they could be widely adopted in a short space of time.

    Here’s a link to my visualization of the awards (based on the Archemedes quote: “Give me a long enough lever and I will move the world.”) I really liked the image and have used the proverbial ‘lever’ to represent an imaginary global prize fund in this image:

    http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_lr7oupq6LG1qadfqmo1_1280.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6IHWSU3BX3X7X3Q&Expires=1315584545&Signature=kwqDywFZq8JzRiDBazrqQT2vl%2FQ%3D

    I gave this idea a lot of thought during my thesis write up and truly believe that with the right execution it could happen!! I would be fascinated to see the outcome if you could apply your system/method to deconstruct this ‘strategically unreasonable’ goal and maybe make a dent in the universe!!

    Thanks for taking the time to read…

    Kind Regards,

    Jonny Miller

    Like

  27. Sound like is breaks down to:

    1. Right niche
    2. Right product
    3. Right time
    4. Right advertising

    Love your books and site Tim. I’m still working 60 hours a week, but hey, we’ve all gotta start somewhere, right?

    Like

  28. Hey Tim,

    I know you’re life mission is exploration and out of the box lifestyle. I think you should meet HOWARD MOSKOWITZ. He’s a marketing innovator and well known in that world. check out Malcolm Gladwell talking about him at the genius conference:

    This guy will blow you away and I can make the intro; he’s my best friends father.

    Like

  29. Like everyone else I love the case studies for inspiration and execution details. The insights on shipping cost and adwords effectiveness were also good validations that’d I’ve seen other places.

    Onward and upward

    Like

  30. I can’t get enough of these case studies Tim. Recently I’ve been reading back over the 4HWW. Some of the methods may now have changed, but the ideas are still rock solid.

    Keep going strong. I’m looking forward to the 4HC (assumed acronym)!

    Like

      • Agreed. By definition, the term “cash flow” should include charges against the income. It’s pretty surprising that TIM has ignored this question over and over in these comments on every post in this series.

        Like

    • Bob addressed the question I have every time I read these case studies. What is revenue? Gross sales? It would be good to know both gross sales and monthly personal income after expenses. Are these businesses profitable? Is it worth the work?

      Like

  31. Great post! I was soaking up every word. We have just launched our e-comerce site and working like crazy to improve SEO. Lots of other great suggestion that we will implement. Thanks!

    Like

  32. Tim – Thank you so much for showcasing iFlip on your site. Your book was truly an inspiration.

    For those interested in distribution, partnership, or business development opportunities feel free to email us – info (at) iflipwallet.com.

    -Vincent

    Like

    • Awesome idea for a product Vincent, I love it! I think it’s helpful little products like these that make our lives a little better. I have an idea of my own, and I just sent you an email about it. Thanks for the inspiration.

      Like

  33. Thanks Tim.
    I’ve been hanging for a bit of this kind of inspiration.
    I’ve got all the ideas and no action.
    This post (including all the links)… has made me act.

    ps. down the track it would be really interesting to get a successful muse creator to break down their experience with Alibaba and the process of going abroad and sussing out the manufacturers. This is the bit that is totally mystical to me!
    Does anyone know of a good blog post that does this??
    x

    Like

  34. A couple of those businesses look more or less out of business when you research their marketing efforts. A number of competitors with more exposure, no ppc since March, non-existent social media for months, poor seo rankings, etc. Not hating or anything, just wondering what the deal is. I hope they’re doing well… maybe the Square 36 product made it into stores as planned and doesn’t need to market online anymore. I’d go crazy if a supplier poached my idea then started selling it all over the place.

    As everyone says over and over again with these very inspiring posts… it would be amazing if we could see profit numbers. I don’t really care how much they’re making; just knowing they’re making a liveable income would be that much more motivating.

    Like

    • I echo Alex’s comment here.

      It’s motivating to see this stories but they’re a little misleading. Obviously these people were able to launch their businesses and they’ve had sales but where are they now? How profitable are these muses? Are they profitable at all? Do they still make sales?

      Tim, could you just ask if they’re profitable in your list of questions? Also, what are they doing now to keep business coming in the door?

      I love the idea of having more “information” based muses in the future too. Not all of us can/want to travel to China to meet with competitively priced manufacturers.

      Like

  35. I’ve read the 4HWW and am re-reading it. What’s awesome is that by 1998 (when Tim started) I had been in the military, got degrees from Oxford University, lived in a Bangkok slum, worked for a multi-national, started an investment company…. BUT I NEVER UNDERSTOOD THE LIFESTYLE!!!! So Tim, thanks so much, man. As for the muses – great stuff! I have interests in travel and agriculture, but not a product as yet. Working on it NOW as a result of reading these posts. Very cool stuff indeed.

    Like

  36. I love reading these case studies! I’m happy for all of them.

    I’m submitting my story to you Tim. Been thinking of a way to contact you, and this post came at a perfect time.

    Since I’ve read the 4HWW years ago, I’ve been searching for my muse. After trying and failing with different ways to make money online, I think I’ve found mine.

    I know you just got an iPhone this year and talked about making apps. I outsourced an app for less than $2K that made me $30K in the first 30 days and made App of the Week. I’ll explain more in the submission! Thanks!

    Like

    • Benny, you wrote “I outsourced an app for less than $2K”. This is incredibly good value. Someone I know recently paid around $8K for an app to be developed. I would be very grateful if you could give details of how you went about this. The App model is the perfect “application” of the 4HWW low maintainance business model in action. 2K input that makes 30K in the first month – mindblowing!

      Like

  37. I enjoy reading this posts to see what niches people are creatively attacking. BUT – as has been stated many times before, it would be much more telling to report PROFITS and not just revenue (or perhaps even both so we could see their operating margins).

    TIM – Any chance you could update the question to read “How much profit is your muse currently generating per month (on average)?” Even if you left the revenue question and added this as an optional question it would be very helpful. There are many companies that have massive revenue but zero profits. That’s not a bad thing as long as the founders are taking compensation and factoring that into their profit calcs, but many don’t at the beginning…

    Like

  38. Thank you Tim for featuring Square36 as a case study. We really appreciate it.

    Just wanted to address a few comments:

    Sarah Russell – send me an email at bob AT square36.com and I will hook you up with my Google contact. But, to be honest it’s really hard to find cash-flow positivity with Google Adwords and we’ve found better success recently with Facebook Impressions. I will address the shortcomings of online marketing as a sustainable business model below.

    Cameron, re: Free Shipping – Profit is being made by someone every time you buy a product. Don’t feel like a pawn. Just letting you know what worked for us.

    Alex – It’s not all about online marketing. Most muses that are based on a manufactured product are going to want to shift focus from fulfilling direct sales to fulfilling retail orders ASAP. The main reason: the re-up. A direct sale consumer will buy from you one time, but a retailer will re-up every month or every quarter. It costs a fortune to acquire new customers through Adwords, but it’s important to do so in the beginning, because it’s difficult to get a retail deal without sales history… So there’s a tidbit on how we executed our muse.

    Like

    • Hey Bob,

      I just gloriously failed at getting a Google ad campaign off the ground. I hope you don’t mind if I send you an email. Google gave me a total run-around. The 7th time I called they said that if I didn’t have a product to sell right away I couldn’t advertise. That kinda defeats the purpose of testing the market. I’m going to give Facebook a try and drop you a line. Thanks for the helpful reply!

      Cheers,
      Rob Norback

      Like

  39. I really like your site Tim. Is this a wordpress blog site?
    Did you use a template? In the three muses you presented
    which of the ideas did you use? Keep up the good work.
    You publish very helpful information and I think your books
    are great.

    Like

  40. Tim,

    These case studies are fantastic sources of inspiration and motivation, thank you very much for continuing to post them! It would be great if this feature can continue.

    Like

  41. With this type of coverage and extensive details about ACTUAL products regular people have built using the tools available today — no one.. absolutely NO ONE reading this should have any excuse for creating their own muse/niche product. None.

    Like

  42. I feel like everyone is knocking on Tim’s door, but he isn’t home. In fact, he hasn’t answered the door for 3 or 4 blog posts.

    Can’t blame him though, he still takes time out to post and give us a knowledge dump- busy guy!

    Like

  43. I will join the others in saying thanks, Tim, for continuing to post these examples. I’m trying to make a couple of my ideas realities, and it’s a little frustrating sorting out/learning all the pieces. Reading these stories reminds me to stick with it and press onward and hopefully upward.

    Like

  44. I read the description twice, and even went to the website but I still have no idea was Keynotopia actually does. I get the wallet though.Like everyone else I love the case studies for inspiration and execution details. The insights on shipping cost and adwords effectiveness were also good validations that’d I’ve seen other places.

    Like

  45. Interesting to see how much revenue is being generated per month, but margin is more important.

    One could be selling 10 high-grade bikes at $10k per pop for $100K monthly revenue… not too good if the (unstated) opex is $150K…

    Like

  46. I love the case studies Tim. Please give us more case studies! I look forward to them more than anything! As soon as my muse is up and running, I’ll contribute my successes and failures for everyone as well.

    I think I speak for a lot of us that have learned the most from the case studies and actual live muses making money. How often can we expect more of them? Thanks for everything Tim, you’ve changed a lot of people’s lives. Cheers!

    P.S. I bet you can make a separate blog just devoted entirely to the case studies and we would all come there too!

    Like

  47. Having a manufacturer in China that I contact via Alibaba steal my idea and produce the product on their own (like what sounds like happened to square36) is what I fear most when planning to get my muse started. Does anybody have insight on what steps you need to take prior to contacting or working with a manufacturer for prototypes or product orders to ensure they cannot steal your idea?

    Like

  48. Bob, very nice muse. How did you get Google to design the ad campaign and front your spend? That’s unusual for a new campaign..

    Congrats again,

    -Chris

    Like

  49. I have been a big fan of the FHWW for a long time and always check the blog, i find the muses that people create are a great inspiration for me. as i am at a cross roads regarding my ‘muse’
    Do i spend 2 years and two thousand five hundred pounds registering a patant for my product plus countless hours and money defending the patant. or do i just go ahead with the product production, heavy marketing and try to gain the bigger market share before it is copied.

    Like

  50. Hey Tim, First, I LOVE the 4 hour body:) Love it! 2nd, I’ve been looking to ad to my new body by trying some male enhancement pills. Can you give me your thoughts on if any actually work and/or what does work? I really value your opinion and trust your advise. Thanks so much.

    Like

  51. @Nate – Yes, there are steps you can take to prevent your idea being stolen by the manufacturer. The legal option is inconvenient and doesn’t protect you as well as it should. The law doesn’t have to make sense; you only have to understand it. …but get it anyway, it gives you leverage. Say or imply that you have a patent on it – even if you don’t. They will take your word for it. It’s too much work for them to verify.

    Further design your product/service in a way that it cannot easily be turned into a commodity. There are several ways to achieve just that. This could be branding, first to market, be the go-to expert, quality leader, but the most effective way is to have a meaningful relationship with your market. Your manufacturer cannot steal that from you.

    Happy to discuss further. Feel free to contact me directly.
    Leo

    Like

  52. One question I have for the two people selling physical goods is whether thay are warehousing their own goods or not. Is it possible or recommended to have a manufacturer drop ship for you?

    Like

  53. I have a question regarding creating physical products and automating the sales process.

    Once you find a manufacturer willing to product your product, how exactly do you get yourself out of the equation of handling physical products yourself?

    Is there a way for the manufacturer to send all the produced products to another third-party who handles/ships the product on your behalf? (You are just going to have a website and handle marketing etc.)

    What are some good third-party/services for this?

    I’d really appreciate some help. Thanks

    Like

  54. @Dilanka – yes there are options for you. You’ll need to analyze which type of solution fits your purpose best. I would start here: 1) ask the manufacturer if they have something already in place, 2) do-it-yourself until you have the economies of scale to 3) hire a someone to do the shipping for you or 4) hire a professional distributor.

    The problem you will face with any of these solutions – and these are inherent to all physical goods – stealing, cost of inventory (time value of money tight up in inventory), damages, returns, and quality control.

    The trick here is to – as you correctly said – get yourself out of the equation, have someone else assume the risk. …hence the popularity of drop-shipping and affiliate marketing.

    I hope this helps!
    Best,
    Leo

    Like

  55. Dude, if you’ve got so many case studies what’s with only presenting a few and waiting so long between each case study post?

    I’d like to see way more case studies than you’ve currently shared, especially more info products.

    Like

  56. Like so many others have mentioned, these muse engineering blogs are fantastic. Still working on my first, but the insights provided are incredibly motivating. Not to mention the subsequent commentary! Keep em coming!

    Like

  57. I also agree that profit would be a more attractive metric than revenue.

    I’m sure there would be less case studies to publish, but it could inspire a more meaningful excitement in us readers.

    FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN is a major obstacle for people.

    I think sophisticated people may look at these case studies and say “revenue is meaningless.” A more novice type of entrepreneur might not explicitly think that, but they might have more UNKNOWN and more FEAR of taking action.

    Heck, perhaps some of these case studies are actually living a life that nobody would truly want if it involves little to no profit (or a loss). Some of them might be on their way back to a j-o-b with a 50-hour work week.

    Maybe you (Tim) vet them enough to avoid that.

    Perhaps more excitement could be generated from case studies with explicit profit😀

    Like

  58. Great site / post.

    Sometimes I think that my sector, i.e. finance, is far too negatively competitive…too many sharks chasing the precious few basis points.

    Hats off to all successful muses, especially those showcased in Tim’s blog. At least a muse creates!

    TiB

    Like

    • Hey Lucis (nice name by the way…hehe…I caught that),

      Finance is competitive especially investment banking, hedge funds, private equity, etc. But you can still “create” and build a successful muse in that sector. In fact, you could probably even make bigger gains because of the industry.

      Sam

      Like

  59. Hey T Dogg!

    I was blabbering about you and some others on my new blog and I linked to your blog. Would it be preferable to you to if I linked to the book (4-Hour) at Amazon vs. linking to here?

    Thanks for starting an unshakeable fire deep inside of me by the way. I promise to always pay it forward.

    All good things,

    Brian

    Like

  60. Enjoying these case studies. I;ll admit your book (and also Seth Godin also telling me to ship, ship, ship) has influenced me to create simple online businesses outside of my 13 year old branding and interactive services firm….www.onefastbuffalo.com. The fist one I decided to create was a wood baseball bat company…www.warstic.com. WHy? Launched in April 2011. I used my branding and design skills to create a unique approach to a simple product that I also have experience with. I managed to partner with a manufacturer in my home state of Texas. No overseas bullshit here. We make a carefully crafted, real deal American product. Getting lots of free pub online; uncrate.com, svsupply and such. As well as traditional publications like Wall Street Journal, mens Journal, GQ, etc. Profitable from day one. Bats are only made after they are purchased online. Paying my mortgage with this business and spending about 1 hr per week. Sometimes more but its time spent designing new product = my muse. Several more new brands in the works😉

    Like

  61. I too would LOVE to know how Bob Maydonik and his partner managed to get Google to build their AdWords campaign for them, AND give them seed money!

    Did they already have personal contacts there? Is this something Google periodically do and is there a route/selection criteria/formula to persuading them to do this for you?

    Like

  62. Here’s an idea. Come up with a business model that employs Americans, instead of always outsourcing to China. I don’t want to get all, “They took our jebs!” on you guys, but don’t we have people here in the states that would love to make yoga mats? Sure we would have to pay them more than 10 cents a day, and they wouldn’t be able to live in the factory at night, but c’mon!

    Like

  63. Rivetting reading. I have nothing but admiration for those who are able to dream up a marketable application, build a website into the bargain and then simply plug SEO principles into the side of it and then launch it within hours. Technical expertise coupled with an entrepreneurial 2nd sense definitely gives you the edge when it comes to getting your ideas to market.. As I am not such a person.. maybe I will come back in 6 – 12 months time and tell you about my muse ..when my idea has had time to gestate, hatched and then dug it’s way out of Google’s sandbox. I’m afraid it’s the long haul for me!

    Like

  64. Great post Tim. You always hit the nail on the head with what people want to read. People get sick of these airy fairy blogs. Detail like this on people actually doing it. Is great!

    Like

  65. I LOVE THESE POSTS!!!

    Thanks a lot for sharing these cases, they are pure entrepreneurial crack for non-conformists like me. I love the simplicity of the yoga mat idea, it is so obvious and so simple! I just gotta think a little and make things happen.

    I think the what works/doesnt questions are pure gold man, totally 80-20; Richard Koch would certainly be proud. (were you the japanese student quoted in his book Tim?)

    Thanks man, thanks.

    Like

  66. Hello Tim! I’m a big fan and I’m finally going to take action! My question to you and the band of helpfuls is:

    I would like to lock up a catch phrase like “Life is Good” but how do I do that? Do I get a provisional patent for the phrase? What do I need to do to make this phrase mine so I can license it out?

    Thank you Tim! And everyone else for all your help!!

    Like

    • Hi John,
      You will want to see trademark protection for a phrase, name, logo, etc. (This does not fall under something that is patentable).
      Keep in mind that you can’t just coin a name and phrase, then call it as your own and then try to license it for revenue. You will actually need to use it on a product or service. You could then license it as some point. With a license, you really also need to consider quality control of the product up on which your mark is licensed upon.
      Feel free to contact me if you need clarification. I know patents vs. trademarks vs. copyrights can get confusing to most people.
      Suzi

      Like

  67. Hi Tim,

    I always love reading these case studies, they provide much inspiration!

    I did have one question however. In both the first edition of the 4HWW and the updated/expanded version when talking about engineering a muse you highly recommend an information product. Having read all your case studies, there is I believe only one that can really constitute being an information product, the vast majority seem to be physical products.

    I was wondering;

    1) What your thoughts are on this, and whether if you were to do another updated version of the 4HWW would you change your advice?

    2) Whether you do in fact receive many information product submissions that you just haven’t published, and if you would be willing to do a case studies post dedicated solely to information products?

    Thanks for your time, and all the great information you have provided in all your books and blog posts. One day in the near future I hope to feature as one of the successful muse case studies!

    Sam

    Like

  68. Great information.

    Success stories are useful and inspiring, and I think that it would also be very useful to read some “failures” so we can notice the difference that makes the difference between those two.

    On the way of modeling success it is necessary to be aware of mistakes for faster results, you can take the very same steps of an excellence model but not get good results because of some subconscious limitations or just one simple thing that is holding back all the power.

    Like

  69. Interesting stuff! Really inspirational case studies. I’m an Internet Marketer and struggling to come up with 1 product idea. I love selling physical products, but make all of my money with niche sites. Niche Adsense and niche Clickbank sites…

    And then I make money selling information products about how I make money. I’m really looking to get a solid muse in place, 1 product that makes $10,000 or more per month. Would love some info on finding markets and starting new muses.

    Like

  70. I live in Australia: when setting up a muse product test page with pricing page, how do I get around the contract and consumer laws that prohibit bait advertising, and deceptive & misleading conduct? In other words the law prohibits me from advertsing a product that I cannot ship, even when payment details are not capture.

    Like

    • @Tommy. Hi Tommy, I am an Australian too and finding our laws and regulations difficult to work around. I don’t know much about your specific situation at the moment. I would however suggest setting up a mailing list on your website to capture data. Much like Johanna in Tim’s book (yoga for rock climbers example). My difficulty at the moment is insurance as I am working on a couple of muses. If you would like someone is Oz to communicate with, feel free to contact me on missy.holden@yahoo.com.au as I am finding it very isolating working on something that no one else seems to understand (ie Tim’s style of business vs your regular type of self employment type business).

      Either way, best of luck with your muse. We definitely have very different laws to the USA!

      Like

  71. Great post Tim … These muse posts are always so inspiring and really help to keep the motivation alive.. especially in difficult times such as these. Keep up the great work!

    Like

  72. I love reading about these Muse examples. I am a recent mechanical engineering graduate. What you learn in school is theory and details about mechanical design. I have been out of school for a while and in this economic market I have been working part time. Since I have more time on my hands I have been putting my engineering skills to work and working on a few muses.

    It looks like from some of the questions above you all have a few questions regarding the engineering or design part of the muse. I’m no expert in product design and I am definitely not a seasoned veteran in the product market, but my strengths at the moment are engineering design.

    If you guys have any questions about design questions feel free to ask.

    I would like to exchange thoughts or ideas with those who have strengths in the areas that I don’t.

    -chuck

    Like

  73. Hi,

    I’m looking for people who would like to help develope my muse🙂 It is in startup process. Look on the www page.

    I’m expert in production process and development. I also has some experience in selling and seo, and everything else needed etc. but would be good to have someone who is expert in the specific area. Until now I did everything alone(with outsourcing ofcourse). If you like the product and the idea – don’t hestitate to contact me. I only want to do business with people full of creativity, possitive energy and who love to work. You may not get any benefits from this but on the other hand you may get rich.🙂 Any ideas? Let me know!

    BR, Kristof

    Like

    • Kris,

      I am involved in the cycling industry in the USA and have many contacts.

      Let me know what you were thinking in terms of a partnership/distributorship or what you were looking for.

      Thanks,

      – Bryce

      Like