Case Studies: How to Build Online Businesses That Gross $250,000+ Per Month

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Debbie Sterling’s GoldieBlox is now grossing $300,000+ per month.

My specialty is modeling success. I analyze what works and ask: what recipe can I find that others can use?

In this post, we’ll dissect five successful online businesses. Some of them (e.g. GoldieBlox) are now grossing $300,000+ per month…and it’s the founder’s first company! One (Fresh-Tops) has gone from 1 to 20 employees in six months. Some of the other stats are even more impressive.

The highest monthly sales by a contestant in the FIRST two months of starting, excluding any pre-existing businesses, was $196,811. How would that change your life?

Out of more than 10,000 contestants in one of the last Shopify Build-a-Business Competitions, these five businesses are those that sold the most in completely different categories:

Design, Art and Home
Gadgets and Electronics
Fashion and Apparel
Canadian [Because Shopify is based in Canada. Go Canucks!]
Everything Else

So… What do they all have in common? And what can you replicate on your own?

For both questions, the answer is: more than you think.

[Sidenote: Have you seen the brand-new competition, launched yesterday? Grand prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to Necker Island, Richard Branson’s private island, to be mentored for a week by Richard, yours truly, Seth Godin, and a bunch of amazing folks. Check out this description.]

Without further ado, let’s analyze these five rock stars, looking at what they did right and, just as important, what they did wrong… Read More

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Hacking Kickstarter: How to Raise $100,000 in 10 Days (Includes Successful Templates, E-mails, etc.)

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Hack Kickstarter
Mike Del Ponte co-founded Soma, which raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter using virtual assistants and free apps.

I first met Mike Del Ponte two years ago when he was running marketing at BranchOut, a startup I advise.

Before joining BranchOut, Mike had explored a variety of career paths, including preparing for the priesthood at Yale Divinity School and serving as a peacemaker in the West Bank.

Earlier this year, Mike came to me with a new product idea called Soma. Soma is, in its simplest form, a high-end competitor to Brita water filters. It combines Apple-inspired design (e.g. sleek glass carafe) with a subscription service that delivers the world’s first compostable water filter to your door. From form to function, from funding model to revenue model, Mike was eager to disrupt a sleepy but enormous market: water. I became an advisor.

To launch Soma on Kickstarter (and raise $100,000+ in just nine days), Mike and his team used some of the techniques that helped BranchOut grow to 25 million users in just 16 months.

You can replicate what he did.

This post includes all of their email templates, spreadsheets, open-source code to build landing pages, and even a custom dashboard Soma’s hacker Zach Allia built to monitor their Kickstarter data, social media, and press.

This post is as close to copy-and-paste Kickstarter success as you will find. And even if you have no interest in Kickstarter, Mike’s approach is a blueprint for launching nearly any product online for maximal impact and minimal cost.

Enjoy! Read More

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The Magic of Thinking Big – How to Break World Records in Times Square

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Preface from Tim

The following is a guest post by John-Clark Levin, Joe Luchsinger, and Jason Soll.

I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to publish it, and today is that day. Why? I have big battles coming next week, and they make me want to tackle the world.

By the time you finish reading this post, you’ll learn how they:

• Booked the heart of Times Square for three days for only $20
• Brought together teams of elite competitors from as far away as Nepal and New Zealand
• Organized a record-breaking competition as full-time college students…from 3,000 miles away
• Received a promotion on every page of YouTube.com, ultimately receiving over 800,000 webcast views and tens of thousands of comments during the course of the event
• Landed extensive coverage by the Wall Street Journal, ABC, NBC, CBS, and AOL News
• More than doubled the previous Guinness World Record for the Longest Continuous Handshake

After telling the crazy story behind this event, called “Shaking History,” they’ll teach:

• How systematically studying both your successes and failures can take you to the next level
• Why taking on charitable projects allows you to make astounding breakthroughs in the size and scale of your endeavors
• How to achieve spectacular results by defining your own “best practices”
• Why you can be the best in the world at something

Now, on to the story… Read More

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The 4-Hour Chef All-You-Can-Eat Campaign of Goodness

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PLEASE NOTE: THIS PROMOTION IS OVER. THANKS!

Last week, Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust sold roughly 66,000 books through BookScan. If you walk into Barnes & Noble, you will likely see walls of her books, which her publisher has paid for, just like Coca-Cola pays for the first 50 feet of Walmart placement.

I don’t have an issue with that. This is how publishing has worked for a long time.

But to compete with monolithic forces that are banning my book due to my publisher (Amazon Publishing) — 1,000+ bookstores, including all of Barnes & Noble — I can’t play their game. I have to do things differently. It’s the Red Coats versus the colonies, and I must take attack using different means.

The New York Times bestseller list is highly skewed towards print retail. This makes it a hard target for me, though I’m still gunning for it. No matter, I want to hit #1 on BookScan to send a message to the incumbent world of publishing, to those who want everything to remain in the 1900’s. If The 4-Hour Chef “wins” in any capacity, authors will feel freedom to experiment. If this book “fails” because the old guard makes of an example of me, their message wins: don’t mess with the system that keeps us fat and happy, or we’ll punish you.

Enter The All-You-Can-Eat-Campaign of Goodness. This is a sniper shot directed at the heart of every member of the publishing oligarchy (not all publishers, mind you) who cares more about their parking spot at the country club than their end user: the reader. That pisses me off.

To attempt something different, I’ve recruited a small cadre of companies to make you offers that defy belief. I hope you enjoy them.

ALL OFFERS EXPIRE AT 5PM PST THIS SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17TH.

WORKAROUND ON U.S. ADDRESSES AND “LIMITED TO U.S. ONLY”: This offer is only available to those with shipping addresses in the United States… but not to fear! There’s a workaround. If you live outside the US, you can use http://www.hopshopgo.com/. It’s a simple service that allows non-U.S. customers to have goods delivered to a U.S. address; the goods are then forwarded to wherever you live. You actually save 10% on international shipping.

THE DEAL WITH PRINT: For reasons unknown, The New York Times omits any advice/how-to e-books from their E-Book Nonfiction bestseller lists (even Ina Garten!). I don’t know why, and I wish I did. In the meantime, that means that only print copies of The 4-Hour Chef count towards The NYT bestseller list. The good news: as much as I love digital, I optimized the reader experience for print. It’s a beautiful, tactile experience intended to be read in two-page spreads.

Now, onward to the packages…

PLEASE NOTE: THIS PROMOTION IS OVER. THANKS!

BUY 1 BOOK

Buy 1 print book ($21) and get the following:

- One sweet, tasty hardcover that you’ll enjoy again and again for years. Also suitable for self-defense and bicep curls. I will raise a wine glass to you and your family and send good karma your way.

BUY 3 BOOKS

Buy 3 print books ($63) for yourself and X-mas gifts, and you get the following ($130 value and 2-hour live Q&A) — Limited to first 2,000 people:

Exclusive 2-hour Q&A with me after launch — ask whatever you want. I’ll be drinking wine and in a sharing mood, no doubt. Limited to people who buy 3 or more books.
428-page PDF — The Best of The 4-Hour Workweek Forum (value: $25): The 4HWW Forum was vibrant for years, a repository of great lessons from readers, until it became simply too buggy. It’s now read-only, but I’ve curated the best material and put it all into a 428-page PDF, complete with a Table of Contents.
850-page PDF of full interview transcripts from Mastery by Robert Greene (value: $50). See my post, “The Magic of Apprenticeship — A How-to Guide,” for more on Robert and Mastery and how to gain control over your life. This document contains full interview transcripts that dive into the thought processes of nine living masters, including Paul Graham, Freddie Roach, and Temple Grandin.
3 months of Evernote Premium (value: $15)
3 months free of CLEAR card, (value: $40) which allows you to skip airport security lines (Example: reduced my wait time in SF from 60 minutes to less than 5 minutes).

Interested in this package? Sweet! Just buy 3 *print* books on Amazon and fill out this form: https://4hb.wufoo.com/forms/z7x2s9/

If you already bought a copy, no problem. Just buy two more copies on Amazon and fill out the same form.

BUY 25 BOOKS

Buy 25 print books ($525) and get the following ($1,008 value) — Limited to first 200 people. Get all of your Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop!

- Kindle Fire HD (value: $199) Super awesome. ‘Nuff said.
Breville Control Grip Immersion Blender (value: $149) I’ve used this to make 100s of dishes, many of them in The 4-Hour Chef.
CLEAR card: 2 free years (value: $179 x 2 = $358)
Evernote Premium: 1 free year (value: $45) I use Evernote to gather all of my online and offline research in one place. It’s my external brain.
Athletic Greens: free jug (30-day supply) (value: $97) My all-in-one nutritional insurance.
BioTrust low-carb protein: free jug (value: $49.95) — 4g of net carbs. I get asked all the time which protein powder I use. This is the answer. I have no affiliation or affiliate link.
AMRAP Nutrition, Refuel Bar: one box of Refuel bars (8 count, value: $24) Delish without fat guilt. Win-win.
TaskRabbit: $50 of credit. One of my favorite start-ups of all-time. Addictive like crack.
Havalon Piranta-EDGE knife (value: $36) – The first surgically-sharp knife I’ve ever owned. Less than 3 oz, includes 12 replacement blades.

Interested in this package? DON’T buy it on Amazon. Since there are only 200 spots, buy your package on this page: http://fourhourchef.eventbrite.com/ First come, first served.

FOR THE NEXT FEW PACKAGES, PLEASE NOTE: I do not want books sitting in warehouses or garages. If you order the big packages, I want every book to get to one of your customers, partners, or employees. If you need suggestions for distribution, let my team know, but I don’t want any copies going unread. This is very important to me.

BUY 250 BOOKS

Buy 250 print books ($5,250) and get the following (value: Priceless!! hahaha…) — Limited to first 20 people:

- Full-day group retreat in SF with me at an award-winning restaurant and/or hotel (e.g. Central Kitchen) — lunch, 4-hour jam session, dinner, and drinks, maybe more  — Theme: “Caribou and Karaoke”
1 hotel night in SF included
BodyMetrix ultrasound bodyfat tester (value: $495)
Ultimate Driving Experience (value: $500). Ride a Lamborghini or an Audi with lessons from a professional driver around a racing track in one of 14 major cities. Videos/pictures included to cherish for a lifetime.

Interested in this package? Magnanimous! DON’T buy it on Amazon. Since there are only 20 spots, buy your package on this page: http://fourhourchef.eventbrite.com/ First come, first served.

BUY 1,000 BOOKS

Buy 1,000 print books ($21,000) and get the following (Priceless!!!! That’s FOUR exclamation points!) — Limited to first 6 people:

- Awesome all-expenses-paid trip somewhere in the world. You’ve seen me do this in India, Africa, and elsewhere. I don’t half-ass trips. I don’t even three-quarter-ass trips. I full-ass my trips! This will be a life-changing, amazing, all-inclusive trip somewhere in the world. High probability: high-end trip through Tuscany, dates TBD with people who sign up.
CLEAR card: lifetime membership (value: $12,530 [$179/year x 70 years = $12,530]).
WellnessFX Performance assessment: Early access (will not be public until late Q1 2013) to an exclusive version (value: over $700). This package builds off of of Baseline diagnostics to give people a deep look into their cardiovascular, metabolic, nutritional and hormonal health & performance. Here’s what’s included: all lab & phlebotomy fees, data in your own private WFX dashboard, and 50+ biomarkers (total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, Triglycerides, etc).

Interested in this package? Great! But…DON’T buy it on Amazon. Since there are only 6 spots, fill out this page: https://4hb.wufoo.com/forms/z7x1k9/ First come, first served. This bad boy will be epic.

BUY 4,000 BOOKS

Buy 4,000 books ($84,000) and get the following ($200,000 value). Limit 1 person:

- I will give two 60-minute keynotes at venues of your choice in the US or Canada, timing and content to be mutually agreed upon.
– Everything in the 1,000-book package above

Interested in this package? Words fail me. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. Now… DON’T buy it on Amazon. First, it’s impossible. Second, there is only one slot up for grabs. Fill out this page: https://4hb.wufoo.com/forms/z7x1k9/ Danke sehr!

###

In closing, let us remember one lesson that Winston Churchill delivered as perhaps the shortest commencement speech of all-time:

“Never, never, never give up.”

Deciding to fight is half the battle.

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The Magic of Apprenticeship — A How-To Guide

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In 1902, Einstein (far right) formed “The Olympia Academy” with two friends, who met to discuss books about science and philosophy. Three years later, Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis papers vaulted him to international fame.

I’m asked “How do I find a mentor?” all the time.

I’ve never had a good answer. The sad fact is this: people you want as mentors don’t want to view themselves as pro-bono life coaches. So what to do?

First, change the question. Perhaps it’s a cliche to say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears, but it’s a prescription in disguise. Here, the better question is “How do I become an ideal apprentice?”

The best treatment of apprenticeship I’ve ever found is in Mastery, the latest book by Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power. His writing on apprenticeship, mentor cultivation, and in-depth mastery of skills makes Mastery the perfect companion book to The 4-Hour Chef, in my opinion. It’s one of the few books I made time to read cover-to-cover in the last few months.

The below article explores examples of world-class apprentices and how you can emulate them. Once you do that, growth is a foregone conclusion.

Enter Robert Greene

The path to greatness is simple. It’s the path followed by everyone from Renaissance artists to the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. In writing my first four books, I immersed myself in the study these types of people–some of most powerful figures in history. Over the course of many hours of thinking, researching and writing on excellence–the last four years of which were dedicated to writing my newest book–I discerned an unmistakable formula for becoming the bestRead More

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Always Be Closing: Y Combinator and The Art of the Pitch

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NSFW: Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross. This film has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The above video was first sent to me by a star EMC sales rep in 2000.

EMC was then the 800-pound gorilla of data storage, and I was fresh out of college at my first job. Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with my field engineer, Bryan, TrueSAN Networks owned my ass. For $40,000 base, I would be paid to perform. Bryan and I were crammed into a four foot-wide fire exit doorway, we often slept under our desks, and we had to prepare for formidable competition. Namely, EMC and NetApp.

It was an exciting time to be David fighting Goliath.

EMC was famous for producing armies of A-grade salesmen. They’d hire former football players, train them to a berserker-like level of confidence, then unleash them with field-proven scripts. At the ends of quarters, wolf packs of EMC salespeople would descend upon borderline prospects, sometimes staging office sit-ins in their Men in Black attire, calmly notifying the exec in charge of buying decisions, “We’re not leaving until we get a PO [purchase order].” They were the Yankees, Dark Side, and X-Men, all wrapped into one.

They had sales rallies in rented out football stadiums, and their tribe devotion was otherworldly. I saw an “EMCDNA” license plate on a tricked out BMW on highway 101 once. I smiled and kept listening to Secrets of Power Negotiating by Roger Dawson. “One day,” I thought as I puttered along in my minivan, a hand-me-down from my mom, “I’ll beat those guys…” Read More

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How to Write and Promote New York Times Bestsellers: Tim Ferriss and Jack Canfield

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Jack Canfield, as co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, has more than 500 million books in print. Among them, he can count 47 New York Times bestsellers. Jack also provide me with the early advice and introductions that got The 4-Hour Workweek published, despite 26 rejections.

In the above video, which was filmed as a livecast, the tables are turned. I was honored to be interviewed by Jack and Steve Harrison, the founder of Radio-TV Interview Report (RTIR). In this conversation, we answer questions such as:

- How do I make writing (which I find hard) easier?
– How do I minimize writer’s block and overcome it when it creeps in?
– How have I improved my own writing?
– How do I handle or even plan controversial content?
– Is all PR good PR? (Short answer: No)
– What have I learned from Jack?
– How do you introduce your content to so-called “influencers” (a term I still dislike)?
– How do you craft the pitch and make the approach?
– What advice would I give to someone who wants to write their first book?
– How does one become more action-oriented during the process, and throughout life?
– How does the philosophy of Seneca apply to writing and selling a book?… Read More

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