How GrowingStartup got started and the failures before our success

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 Permalink

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. 

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