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How GrowingStartup got started and the failures before our success

Let me tell you a story about two businesses I started that failed and how I would do things differently.

As you read, you will see which pitfalls to avoid.

My first business failed

In my first business, we created one of Africa’s first IOS apps. We had the idea and in a few months we had launched the app.

Launching the app was impressive because I didn’t own an iphone, had no capital and in 2008, few people even knew what an Iphone was.

The downloads, praise and reviews came in but we made no money from it.

Not even $1 dollar.

One of the reasons was that knowledge on app monetization wasn’t as widespread as it is today.
We could have charged for the app or allowed in-game purchases but no one on the team understood sales or marketing very well.

To tell you the truth, I was just excited to have worked on something cool at the time.
There’s a bigger reason why we did not make any money on the app but let me tell you about another business I started that also made ZERO dollars.

My second act was a little different but still the same in many ways.

If at first you don’t succeed

Fresh Words Inspired was a blog I started to talk about business a few years ago. I like lions so nearly all the posts had an image of a lion. Very soon people were sending me photos of lions.

I have always liked the t-shirt industry because moving from idea to product is fairly simple plus I’m pretty creative. There’s something really fulfilling about seeing someone wear something you created.

I wanted to monetize the blog and the only way I knew how was to have a friend design a tee and put it up so I did exactly that and guess what?

No one bought a single shirt. Not even one.

I did not understand how to promote products online so I did what I saw others doing and got no good results.

Here is the point I was getting at.

“Not understanding how business or anything for that matter works is the same as walking around in a dark room.”

Have you noticed the common theme in the experiences I shared? I was ignorant. I had not studied what it took to promote and monetize software or t-shirts. I was trying to use common sense like everyone else.

 “Common sense will get you common results but understanding will make you see farther than anyone else.”

What I should have done was to first understand the market, identify who my ideal client was and then create a strategy to monetize the products.
I could have also researched to find out who else was making money in their field and sought to understand their business model.

For example with the t-shirt company, I never bothered to find out if there were any prospective clients who wanted to buy a tee with a lion wearing a snapback.

I just assumed others would like it because I liked it. Understanding can make you so much money in business.

It’s the difference between a broke real estate developer and a wealthy one.
Many people build apartments, not because they know of a specific demand for the property but because they have a few acres of land and think that is the best way to develop it.

When you get tired of failure. You start winning!

Now that I was tired of failing I sat down to find out where I had missed it.
Around this time, I had just gotten married and moved from Ghana to Connecticut.

Here I was unemployed and broke for the most part.

Everyday for months I spent at least 6 hours a day studying online marketing, copywriting, business growth and sales. I didn’t just read books and online courses..

I studied them inside and out.

Reading involves the eyes but studying engages the mind.
When I was ready I launched an online course and promoted it using my new skills.

This time money came in even when I was asleep.

I found out that my ten years of experience starting and advising business owners was finally paying off. My next act was to start helping others to get the same results. I moved my family to Silicon Valley and started a growth advisory firm.

Finally, I was able to start charging 5 to 7 figures to help software companies and online businesses grow faster, sustainable businesses

I saw two things almost immediately.

  1. Consulting doesn’t scale and if you’re like me who feels business is a calling, having a few clients is not enough.
  2. I noticed most of the startups I was helping really just needed to get their first 10,000 customers and it would Snowball into something bigger.

Even though I am trained as an engineer, I kinda suck at coding so I got a friend to help me build a growth marketing tool which I launched on the app store and product hunt a few weeks ago.

This time things were different. All the hardwork, experience and studying paid off with the app.
I started getting customers from all over the world in a matter of days. I did all this as a solo founder without a virtual assistant or growth team.

This will take work on your part and I can’t say that you will get my exact results since I don’t know your strengths, weaknesses and experiences.

Here’s what I did and you can copy this process.

Step 1: Identify your best idea, product, features or highest value activity.

Step 2: Identify the best segment of the market

Step 3: Create the bait that will attract your ideal customer

Step 4: Set up marketing system i.e landing pages, funnels and campaigns

Step 5: Launch campaign and watch the money roll in

I went from nothing to where I am today with: NO connections, no staff, no big email list, no capital and no office.

Thank you for getting GrowingStartup.

If you’ve started your business and want to get your first 10,000 paying customers, go here. 

Leadership by productivity and results-not age, titles or seniority


When you hear people say “our leaders” do you think of yourself or someone in government or senior management at your company?
For some reason, young people hardly see themselves as leaders.
The idea of leadership always seems to refer to an old person.

Here’s another definition of a leader and it’s the one most people don’t know.

Gartner says over 80% of smartphone users have an Android phone.
That means only about 20% of people use an IOS(Apple) powered smartphone.
Interestingly, Apple captured over 79% of the profits in the smartphone market.

Both businesses are leading their field not in titles or age. 
They are leading with tangible productivity and results.

The leading player on a team doesn’t have to be the captain.
He just has to score more than everyone else on the team.

This is why asking for a raise just based on how long you’ve been in a company isn’t a smart move.
A smart CEO will consider productivity and results before age when selecting senior management.
If a younger person can deliver the goods, that person is promoted while older employees are left disgruntled.
We’ll talk about how to hire and promote in a later letter.

How do I become the leader in my profession/industry/community?
By simply being the most valuable, productive and indispensable person in that field.
Tactically, it’s by becoming an effective manager of your energy, resources, time and emotions. 

p.s
Over the last two weeks, I’ve been beta testing an app for entrepreneurs.
It’s a simple roadmap for attracting customers to your business.
If you’d like to test it later this week, simply email with the word “tester” in the subject line.
Thanks

Principles stay the same but application varies.

There’s a popular book by an American real estate billionaire.
A few years ago a friend told me he didn’t like the book because you couldn’t apply the principles to Ghana or places outside the USA..
Recently Forbes highlighted about 4 millionaires who studied the principles of that same book to build their empires in Asia and the Middle East.

Principles stay the same. Application varies.

My aforementioned friend still has a few acres of land but no buildings and no empire.
What did the other millionaires see that he didn’t?

I believe it has to do with an understanding of the application of principles.
People forget that principles will work wherever you apply them if you know how to tweak the application to your environment.

It is wisdom to hear a principle and find out how to make it yours.

 

 

How to find and attract the right customers


Dear ambitious startup founder,
Please allow me to help you move from
where you are today to where you
ought to be.

Some of this may seem very obvious.
Unfortunately early stage startup founders
seem to miss these simple principles.
This of course is the reason for so
many startup failures today.

“Learning by experience is fine…but the
experience doesn’t have to be yours.”

Step 1. Is this your best idea and are these the right features?
Don’t make the mistake of working on
your weakest idea.
Continue Reading…

Four top sources of targeted traffic for early stage startups

The best ways to get traffic to your startup

You know who your ideal customer is and you’ve
created your irresistibly attractive offer.

It’s time to get some traffic.

There are a million tactics but we’re going to deal with
the more advanced stuff. As you read this, don’t focus
on just the implementation, think of how and why this
works.

You’ll be able to use that understanding to
come up with creative ways to bring people to your
business consistently.

When you’re starting out its helpful to individually email
or cold call your prospects to get them to download
your app or buy your product. This one on one
approach allows you to learn what people actually
want so you can perfect the product.
When you’re done with that, here are the most effective
ways to get a lot of traffic in less than 30 days!
Continue Reading…

How to translate emotion and psychology into engineering and product design


In a Newsweek article May 18, 1998: Chief Design Officer at Apple, Jony Ive talks about how to translate emotion into design:
“The iMac revolved not around chip speed or market share but squishy questions like
‘How do we want people to feel about it?’
and
‘What part of our minds should it occupy?’”

When Ive’s team was brainstorming the iMac,
the feelings they wanted to evoke were “intuitive” and “approachable.”
That’s why they gave it a handle on top.
The handle wasn’t for picking the computer up (although it could be used for that). It was a visual cue to the user that they could touch the computer.
The handle gave them “permission” to put their hands on it.
And that made the machine much less intimidating and precious.”

As airy-fairy as that may sound, consider another example from Mark Zuckerberg.

One of the best things Mark Zuckerberg did with Facebook was to focus heavily on photos.
Many people don’t know this but Mark’s major in college was psychology, not computer science.
His understanding of how the greatest interest of a human in a community is other people, gave him an unparalleled advantage.
This insight was baked into Facebook’s product development in ways that most users can’t recognize.
Continue Reading…

Four simple steps to increase profits by selling more to existing customers


In college I sold used cellphones. Back in those days there was always someone who wanted to sell and someone who wanted to trade up or buy a used phone. My profit on each sale was usually between $20–$50. That of course isn’t much these days but in college it was better than being broke like everyone else.

My problem was that I could sell a ton and still not have enough profit to engage in bigger ventures.(or more like to fund my escapades). All of that changed when I discovered these simple steps that even big companies use.
Continue Reading…

The Ultimate Startup Growth Strategy Guide

ulimate startup growth strategy

Source imgur.com

In 1972 when Bobby Fischer was playing Spassky, he used an opening from the 1800s called The Scotch Game to become World Champion. Everyone gasped because most Americans were using openings and styles that the Russians already knew how to defeat.

One of the reasons it was difficult to beat Bobby Fischer lay in his phronesis.
I’ll explain in a bit but first, a personal example. 

“Your business will not grow bigger than your mind.”
A successful doctor and entrepreneur who I now consider to be a  mentor said that at a STEM workshop I had organized for local teenagers a few years ago.

To be honest, those words bothered me for months.
Surely, there had to be more to business success than behavior.

You see at the time I was a year into my startup but I wasn’t making the money or progress I desired.
On social and in the eyes of the world I should have been content…BUT I was not.
I was attending conferences, reading business books, sleeping 4 hours at night and taking a power nap at 4 p.m.
Very soon I could work 18 hour days and not even feel the effect.

Where was I missing it?

Why did it feel like a merry-go-round?
I was like that guy who is always in the gym but only loses 2 pounds.
Or the site that has millions of visitors but can’t monetize more than an iota of the traffic. Continue Reading…

Wisdom vs Knowledge:How to bulletproof your business from failure

 

Wisdom vs Knowledge:How to bulletproof your business from failure

According to E.W Kenyon; “Only about three percent of the men who go into business for themselves succeed…Only a few who have had the privilege of college and university educations make a real success of life.”

In summary
1 Learn to know when to skip reason
2 Get understanding
3 Make execution a habit

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How To Grow A Startup With No Money

These are five strategies I have used to grow a startup without outside investors or venture capital.
You should not let the lack of financial capital stop you from starting or growing your startup.

Consulting
When I started out, I reached out to a local restaurant owner and offered by Branding and Graphic design services.
She also needed a website but was not willing to pay my fees.
My goal was to build apps and games but I started out with consulting.
That first deal brought in about $1,500.
The next one brought about $3,000.

Even though I was having to share the money with my friend who is a designer, it gave me the boost I needed.
I did this for about 2 years before I got tired of low paid consulting and freelancing.

Continue Reading…

Three things you can do to improve your business today

You can improve your business today with these 3 steps
1 Change who you sell to
2 Change what you sell
3 Automate your lead generation, conversion and retention systems

Thanks for watching.

Please leave a comment below and subscribe to the channel.

What do you see?

At the inauguration of the theme park, the reporter said to the wife of the man who had the vision for the project but had sadly passed away before it was completed, “Your husband would have loved to see the completion of this project.”

The widow laughed and responded “My husband saw this theme park completed a long time ago.”

Look at your website and see 20 million daily visits

Look at your ideas and see your first product

Look at your products and see your first 100,000 customers

Look at your first customers and see the next one million transactions

Look at that business and see an empire of global relevance

Faith is reality.

It’s looking and seeing past the report of the five senses.

It’s living in the reality that with God all things are possible to those of us who believe.

Its the same with people.

You have to look at your spouse, children, family and only see the best.

You have to look at your team and see a world-class workforce.

Others may be not agree but you don’t need anyone else’s opinion.

Faith is enforcing spiritual reality into the physical realm.

Faith is now. Faith is not going to happen. Faith has happened.

As David Oyedepo once said “I was a rich man even before I had a bank account,”