/read /Will It Fly by Pat Flynn

How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don't Waste Your Time and Money

Free Companion Course

  • Purpose of the Book

    • I want to make sure you’re clear for takeoff first. Does your idea have merit? Will it succeed in the market you’re trying to serve, or will it just be a waste of time and resources? Is it a good idea for you and the life you want to live? In other words, will it fly?
    • Here are some reasons why one might just sit on an idea without taking action.
      • You don’t know where to start or what steps are required to turn that idea into a reality.
      • You have a lot of ideas to choose from and you don’t want to choose the wrong one.
      • Your fear of failure outweighs your fear of not getting started.
      • You’re not sure if you’re qualified.
      • You don’t want to let others down.
      • You’ve discovered others who have executed a similar idea.
      • You don’t have the resources you need to get started.
      • You’re just not sure if it’s going to work.
    • When I look back and carefully examine each of these failures, the fatal flaw always comes down to one of two things:
      1. Making money was more important to me than serving people.
      2. I rushed into it.
    • If you were to start a business completely from scratch, with no ideas in mind, then the process would be different. Start by seeking out a particular market and honing in on their pains and problems and extract a solution from there. The potential consequence, however, may be that you enter a niche that you’re not really interested in, nor care to serve. But that isn’t what’s going on here. You aren’t starting from scratch. You have an idea in mind.
  • Structure of the Book

    • Part 1: Mission Design
      • Make sure your target idea aligns with and supports your target goals.
    • Part 2: Development Lab
      • We need to define your idea.
    • Part 3: Flight Planning
      • Assess the current conditions of the market that you’re entering.
    • Part 4: Flight Simulator
      • Validate and test your idea with a small segment of your target market by collecting payments or pre-orders.
    • Part 5: All Systems Go
      • Final analysis to determine insight on your next moves.
  • Part 1: Mission Design

    • 1 Before Your Journey Begins
      • Failing means we missed the mark, but it doesn’t ever mean we’re done. It simply means that we’ve come to a new starting point.
      • The purpose of Mission Design is to help you understand what your goals are in all areas of your life and help you determine whether or not your target idea supports them.
      • Mission Design is made up of several thought experiments and exercises that will help you think about your future and how your idea supports or invalidates the life you want.
    • 2 The Airport Test
      • Background
        • Think five years into the future.
        • Your friend asks you, “So how’s everything going? How is life treating you these days?”
        • You respond with, “AMAZING! Life couldn’t get any better.” And you really mean it.
        • Now here comes the key question: What’s happening in your life five years from now that makes you respond like this?
        • Really think about what would make your life, and all of the things that matter most to you, truly amazing at that point.
      • Exercise
        1. Set Up Your Sheet
          • Grab a sheet of paper, and fold it in half in both directions so that after you unfold it you have it divided into four quadrants.
        2. Define The Four Most Important Categories of Your Life
        3. Determine Why Life is Awesome Five Years from Now
          • Write down as many examples of things that would be happening in that area of your life as you can.
          • If you get stuck, try to imagine your friend asking you, “What else is going on related to that?”
        4. Analyze
          • How does the business idea you have in your head right now fit into your future self, if at all?
          • We want to find out now if it’s obvious that the idea you have in your head isn’t one that makes sense for you and your future self.
          • Most people don’t have enough information yet, which is why the rest of this book exists.
    • 3 The History Test
      • Background
        • What you will be doing is examining and learning from your own past so that you can create a better future.
        • You’re going to trace all of the jobs, positions, and volunteer work that you’ve ever done.
        • By creating a chronological roadmap of your past work experience, you’ll be able to discover some very interesting patterns about who you are and what works best for you, what kind of things you like and dislike, and where you seem to gravitate.
        • Finally, you’ll see how your target idea fits.
      • Exercise
        1. The What
          • Start with the first job you ever had or with anything that you were involved with that required you to consistently show up and contribute in one way or another.
        2. The When
          • Write down when you did that.
        3. The Good
          • List three answers to the question: What did you enjoy about it?
        4. Your Favorite Memory
          • Write your single favorite memory, long or short.
        5. The Bad
          • List three answers to the question: What did you NOT enjoy about it?
        6. Grade
          • Based on the following scale
            • A – Everything about it was perfect!
            • B – For the most part, it was very enjoyable.
            • C – It was okay.
            • D – Didn’t really like it much.
            • F – A terrible experience.
        7. Repeat
          • Repeat this same process with at least two other life experiences.
          • They can be other jobs, organizations you’ve been a part of, something you’ve strived to accomplish, or anything else you’d like to examine further.
        8. Analyze
          • Do you notice any patterns between them?
          • Chronologically, was the overall score getting better, or getting worse over time?
          • If you were to share this with a significant other or a friend, what do you think their first impression would be?
          • What one or two things seem to motivate you the most about the work that you do?
          • How much is your answer to #1 reflected in what you do now?
          • How can your future business be shaped into one that allows you to enjoy your work and continue to stay motivated?
    • 4 The Shark Bait Test
      • Background
        • You are on the hit TV show Shark Tank.
        • Billionaire entrepreneur and investor Kevin O’Leary presses his fingers together, looks you directly in the eyes and says, “You know, I could probably hire someone right now to do whatever it is you’re thinking of doing. So why should I be interested in working with you? What makes you so special?
        • What Kevin is really asking you is this: What can you bring to the table that no one else can? What is your unfair advantage?
      • Types of Unfair Advantages
        • A skill or asset that you have that no one else has, or very few others might have in a specific niche.
        • It’s your competitive edge, and whatever that edge may be, it’s your job to use it to your advantage as much as possible as you shape and create your business.
        • This is different from a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, as we often hear about when starting a business. A USP is about the business itself and how it’s different than the rest. Your unfair advantage, however, is about you.
        • Determining what your unfair advantages are isn’t something that happens overnight.
        • The best way to know what makes you unique is to hear it from someone else.
      • Exercise
        • You’re going to email 10 friends and colleagues and ask them to identify your superpowers.
        • Below, you’ll find an email template that you’re free to copy and use for yourself when you email your 10 people.
          • Subject: From Pat Flynn on Behalf of [Name] Email: Hi! My name is Pat Flynn, author of Will It Fly?, a book that [Name] is reading about business. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell you my book and there are no links to it here in this email. I’ve asked [Name] to send this to you because [he/she] needs your help and trusts you to give [him/her] your honest opinion. This won’t take more than a minute of your time. I challenged [Name] to discover a unique trait or skill that [he/she]’s really good at - to find a sort of "superpower" that [he/she] possesses that can be used to [his/her] advantage while building a business. The best way to know this information is to hear it from others, which is why I tasked [him/her] with emailing just a few select people. If you could reply to this email with what you believe to be [his/her] "superpowers" or traits and characteristics that you believe to be unique to [Name], it would help [him/her] out tremendously. Only [Name] will see your reply. Not I or anyone else [he/she] has emailed will see what you’ve written. If you’re not sure about this and want to make sure this is real, feel free to email me at pat@willitflybook.com. I’m here to help [Name], and I’m super thankful you are too! Cheers, and all the best! Pat Flynn
    • 5 Folding Your Wings
      • Background
        • A lot of people ask me how I’m able to get so much done. My answer is because my mission is clear. Why else would I do anything but that which supports my mission?
      • Exercise
        • Take your Four Quadrants of You exercise from The Airport Test back in Chapter 2 and fold it into a paper airplane and keep it as a symbol of your why.
  • Part 2: Development Lab

    • 6 Before You Print Your Business Card
      • Naming your project is extremely important. But which name doesn’t really matter.
      • Don’t stress over it. It can always be changed, and there’s a good chance that it will.
    • 7 Germination
      • Background
        • Gain a full understanding of what your target idea actually is by mind mapping.
      • Types of Mind Maps
        • Method 1: Post-it Notes
        • Method 2: Mind Mapping Software
      • Mind Map Guidance
        • The single most important rule you need to know to make mind mapping truly work for you. Don’t think.
        • Your brain can be in one of two modes when you’re creating something and most of us constantly switch back and forth between the two.
          1. Create mode
          2. Edit mode
        • The major issue is that your editor brain gets in the way of your creator brain.
        • During the first phase of your mind mapping exercise, you need to be fully immersed in create mode.
        • In the second phase you’ll be in edit mode, grouping thoughts together, removing what didn’t work and finding order.
      • Exercise
        • Mind Mapping Phase 1: The Brain Dump
          • A countdown timer set for 10 minutes.
          • Begin to rapidly write down or type as many thoughts or ideas related to your target idea as you can.
        • Mind Mapping Phase 2: The Clean Up
          • Your overall mission is to organize everything you’ve written by forming visual clusters.
          • You can start to order and create various levels within these clusters too.
          • If you have the urge to add another note or two to your cluster tree, you should do so.
          • Gaping holes will become very apparent and you can fill them in as you go.
          • There will be a few straggler thoughts that don’t fit into any of the categories you’ve already created and these deserve their own special straggler category.
        • Mind Mapping Phase 3: Pruning Your Tree
          • Remove the obvious notes that don’t belong.
          • More pruning can be done later and is not necessary now.
    • 8 One Sentence
      • Background
        • Convey the very core of our target idea in a single sentence.
        • This is the first time you’ll be communicating the current state of your fleshed out idea with others.
        • It’s not an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is important, but we’re not trying to sell our idea at this point.
      • Exercise
        • Write three iterations of your target idea:
          1. One page
          2. One paragraph
          3. One sentence
        • Read your sentence out loud and listen to how it sounds. How does it feel? If it doesn’t sound right or if you aren’t super stoked about it, those you share it with will feel the same way.
    • 9 Conversation and Observation
      • Gathering Feedback
        • Write your idea down on a physical piece of paper.
        • Carry the paper with you for a few weeks or a month.
        • Share with as many people as possible. Sharing will refine the idea.
        • Watch for instant, guttural feedback.
        • Record the feedback on your paper.
      • Challenge
        • Over the next two days, your challenge is to talk to 10 people about your target idea.
        • Start with people you’re comfortable with, who you know would care to listen and provide great feedback.
        • Then try to speak to at least two people who you’ve never met before.
      • Tips for How to Share Your Idea
        • Don’t give any opinions leading up to the conversion.
        • Don’t sell yourself (or your idea) short.
        • Help the person or provide value first. Then ask for help or feedback.
      • Tips for How to Listen
        • Consciously listen to the person’s response.
        • Don’t take notes or record the conversation.
        • Let the person speak.
        • Dig deeper by asking quick follow-up questions.
          • Why do you say that?
          • What else do you think is missing?
          • Why is that important to you?
          • What would be ideal with that?
          • What else comes to mind about that?
        • Don’t just listen to the words. Pay attention to a person’s body language and intonation in addition to their verbal reply.
        • It is important to record any important discoveries immediately after these conversations happen.
      • Concerns
        • Protecting Your Idea
          • No need to worry about anyone taking your idea. The difference between you and the person next to you in line is that you are committed to the idea and they are not.
          • “What’s stopping someone with experience inside this industry from doing exactly what you’re planning to do?”
          • I rephrased the question so that I could use it to my advantage: “What’s something I can add that even someone with experience inside this industry couldn’t do?”
        • Handling Negative Feedback
          • If there is no respect found in someone’s comment or response, then there is no need to pay them any attention.
          • Every second you waste thinking about a hater or troll is a second you’re taking away from those who matter and can benefit from what you have to offer.
          • Negative feedback and criticism given in a respectful manner is often extremely useful.
      • Refine
        • Go back to your mind map and add anything new that you potentially discovered in your conversations.
        • You may want to go back out into the wild and share your newly refined idea once again to collect even more information.
      • Word of Caution
        • Positive feedback is not 100% true validation that you’ve got a winning business.
  • Part 3: Flight Planning

    • 10 Diagnostics
      • Learn everything you need to know about your target audience and where to find them.
      • What other people and products are serving the same target audience?
    • 11 Your 1,000 True Fans
    • 12 The Market Map
      • Background
        • Define the places, people and products that already serve your target audience.
        • You’ll likely to find other businesses or products that are similar to the one you’re developing. That’s a great thing!
        • They’ve already done the heavy lifting by spending the time and money to serve that audience.
        • You can determine what’s working and what’s not, and adjust your business accordingly and find your own unique position.
      • Create Your Market Map
        • The three P’s within your market:
          1. Places
          2. People
          3. Products
        • Each of these items should be organized into their own separate spreadsheet, each with three columns:
          1. name
          2. web address
          3. notes
        • If you see brands that seem to be everywhere pop up during your research, give them a bold indication.
        • Places
          • Shoot for 100
          • Purpose & Benefits
            • Find out where your target audience resides online and what other websites exist in the space.
            • Through comments and forums, you’ll be able to hear directly from the voice of your end-user and use that information to help shape what you create.
            • List of places where you could potentially advertise or submit articles to gain exposure and build authority and trust in the market.
            • Think of what we’re doing as panning for gold. We’re putting a load of gravel and sand into our pan, and through carefully calculated movements, we’ll eventually see the stuff that matters.
          • Examples
            • Blogs
              • Google search field: blog: keyword
              • Blogs will often have communities where one can interact with an end-user. It’s typically much easier to find or reach the owner of the site. If up-to-date, it can give us a good beat on what’s hot and trending.
              • Sometimes, you’ll come across a type of article called a list post, which is a collection of helpful resources all in one place. They can be very useful in your hunt.
              • Another helpful tip is to click on the links in the “Searches related to” section.
              • If you’re having trouble locating blogs in your space try other seed keywords that relate to your target audience and market first. If nothing comes up, move onto the next exercise.
            • Forums
              • Google search field: forum: fly fishing
              • Try other keywords and use the “searches related to” links.
              • Typically there are fewer forums than there are blogs.
              • Try to add five to 10 of the top forums
            • Social Media Groups
              • Facebook and LinkedIn
              • Depending on your niche, one will likely be more useful than the other.
              • Go to the top of your Facebook page and type in a keyword related to your niche in the search bar.
              • Look for is the “Groups” section (sometimes under “More”).
              • Choose the ones that are the most populated and make sure they’re active before you list them. Do this by checking to make sure the latest messages were shared within the last year.
              • Come up with at least 25 notable groups across both channels
        • People
          • Shoot for 50
          • Purpose & Benefits
            • Learn who is in the space already.
            • By identifying existing authorities that your target audience already trusts, you can collect massive insight as to how your audience behaves, what they respond to, and what they ignore.
            • You can see what works and what doesn’t.
            • Begin to determine precisely who you should foster a relationship with down the road.
            • Figure out what you can do to separate yourself from the collective whole.
          • Examples
            • Newsletters
              • Subscribe to as many newsletters as possible.
              • After a few weeks I had hundreds of emails and I began to notice some interesting and useful patterns.
              • The most useful education I learned from following the top influencers in the space was what NOT to do. “do the opposite of everyone else” strategy is a powerful one.
            • You may know a number of influencers in your space already, and if so, add them to the list.
            • Twitter
              • Not a perfect barometer, but the number of followers a person has is a good indication of their standing within their niche.
              • Twitter is the social media channel I’d recommended above all others to start with when you begin building your brand because it’s relatively much faster to build a following on than any other platform.
              • It’s a great medium for starting relationships with influencers.
              • Instructions
                • Twitter’s advanced search function, which you can find at https://twitter.com/search-advanced.
                • In the “all of these words” text field, type the primary keyword that you’ve been using for your other searches.
                • In the “from this date” text field, select a date range that spans the previous two months.
                • Click on the “More options” tab at the top, and select “Top Accounts.”
              • Make sure they align with your target audience.
              • Shoot for collecting at least 20
              • If an account with relatively fewer followers shows up within the top few rows of your search results page and looks legitimate, enter it into your spreadsheet. These “smaller” accounts could actually prove to be more useful for you. It will likely be much easier to reach out and build a relationship with the person behind the handle.
            • Facebook
            • Instagram
            • LinkedIn
            • Periscope
            • YouTube
            • iTunes
              • Look at the top ranked and rated podcasts related to your niche.
              • Finding who has been interviewed on shows related to your niche.
              • Instructions
                • In the search field within iTunes, type in your target keyword and hit enter.
                • Under “Podcasts” (not “Podcast Episodes”), click on “See All”.
                • The ones with the most authority are at the top.
              • Look for 4+ star shows.
              • Take note of the name of each podcast and its host within your spreadsheet.
              • Be sure to also take note of who else might have been featured on this particular show.
              • Make sure you visit the “Related” section.
            • BuzzSumo
              • Probably the best search tool available on the market to help you find influencers.
              • It’s not free to use.
            • Amazon.com
              • There’s a section titled “Author,” with a list of the top authors.
        • Products
          • Purpose & Benefits
            • Most useful areas of research are products, services, and books because it tells what they willing to pay for right now?
            • Determine what kinds of offerings already exist and what might be missing.
            • There’s a difference between what is being offered, and what is being purchased.
          • Examples
            • Amazon.com
              • Type in your target keyword.
              • No matter if it’s a book, gadget, or any other physical product, write it down and include its link.
              • Take note of the average rating, the number of reviews, and the current price point.
              • Add a few books into your list, too. Select “books” from the dropdown menu.
            • Places
              • Dig a little deeper to find some other existing products by using another section of your list that you’ve already filled out: your Places.
              • Forums
                • Pick your top forum.
                • In the search bar, look for inquiries like: “Product review” “Have you tried” “I bought” “I purchased”
                • Copy and paste the discussion link into your spreadsheet, as well as the link to the product.
              • Blogs
                • Visit some of the blogs or websites that you collected.
                • Look for a particular page called “resources” or “products”.
            • Google
              • AdWords
                • Type in keywords related to your niche in Google.
                • In the sidebar, you’ll see a number of products and services that are paying to be shown there through Google’s advertising network.
                • You can’t be sure if these are selling.
              • Reviews
                • Type “product review” alongside your keyword in Google.
    • 13 The Customer P.L.A.N.
      • Dig deep into understanding your target customer by defining your customer avatar making a customer profile.
      • Broken down into four sections, in this specific order:
        1. Problems
        2. Language
        3. Anecdotes
        4. Needs
      • Prepare Your Master Spreadsheet
        • Add one additional sub-sheet to your master spreadsheet.
        • Title the sheet P.L.A.N.
        • Add headings to four separate columns: Problems, Language, Anecdotes, and Needs.
      • P: Problems
        • 1-to-1 Real Time Conversations
          • Emails are okay, but an in-person or over-the-phone conversation will serve you much better.
          • Speak to your target customers.
          • Ask the right questions.
            • What’s something about [topic] that frustrates you?
            • If you had a magic wand and could change anything related to [topic] what would it be?
            • What problems are costing you the most money right now?
            • What’s the most important activity related to [topic] that you do?
            • Is there any frustration associated with that?
            • What related to [topic] takes up the most time?
            • Do you use anything to help you with [topic] already?
            • What do you like about it?
            • What do you wish was better?
            • What’s something related to [topic] that you have to keep doing over and over again?
          • Most importantly, when having these conversations, always dig deeper.
          • Follow up their replies with, “how come,” or, “why do you feel that way,” and you’ll be able to understand the true drivers behind any frustrations or pains.
          • Where do you find your target customers that you could speak to?
            • You have a spreadsheet that already lists the places where these people exist.
            • Conventions and other events.
          • Keep note of which people you speak to and what their pains and problems are in your spreadsheet.
          • Make sure you give them something in return for all the help they’re providing you.
        • Surveys
          • Top resource for learning how to conduct a proper business-related survey is a book titled Ask, by Ryan Levesque
          • A condensed version of his book is in the interview with Ryan Levesque in Episode #178 of SPI (smartpassiveincome.com/session178)
          • You should never ask questions about what people will buy, but you can ask questions like this one that will help them tell you the answer. What’s your #1 biggest challenge related to [topic]?
          • Take note of the language that your target customer uses.
          • Parts of their reply can be directly inserted into future promotional materials for your business, like emails, product descriptions and sales pages.
          • Add any notable words and phrases into the Language column.
          • If you already have a following related to your target market, send emails to your list or messages to your social media following with this single question: What’s your #1 biggest challenge related to [topic]?
          • If you don’t already have an audience, a following, or an email list, you can still conduct an extremely revealing survey with your target customers with no current contacts by emailing them. You can find their email addresses posted on their websites, while others you can ask for an email address through Twitter.
        • Paid Traffic
          • Additional cost of setting up a landing page.
          • Facebook advertisements
          • Google AdWords
          • Twitter
          • Recommend checking out material from Rick Mulready (RickMulready.com) or Amy Porterfield (AmyPorterfield.com)
      • L: Language
        • Understand the language your target customer uses.
        • What words do they use to share their pains and struggles?
        • How do they describe their aspirations and goals?
        • Three most useful kinds of words and phrases:
          1. Questions
            • Benefits
              • If you know the questions your target customer is asking you can become the resource that answers them, either with content, products, or services.
            • Forum Search
              • Step 1: Pick a forum and copy the URL to your clipboard.
              • Step 2: Type the following in Google and hit enter: "how do I" site:
              • Step 3: Check out your results, and record the questions that make sense.
              • Other terms you could use in place of “how do I” are:
                • “why is it”
                • “when can I”
                • “what are the”
                • “what is the”
                • “how come I”
                • “need help”
                • “please help”
                • “I need”
                • “help with”
            • FAQs
              • Step 1: Pick a blog and copy the URL
              • Step 2: Type the following into Google, and hit enter: "faq" site:http://
              • Step 3: Click through to the FAQ page and record the questions that make sense.
              • Try these various phrases:
                • “frequently asked questions”
                • “common question”
                • “question from”
          2. Complaints
            • Benefits
              • Some of the most useful language.
              • See what’s not working and make sure we fix it.
              • Confirm their pains and struggles in a language they can relate to.
            • Forum Search
              • Google "I hate" site:http://www.theflyfishingforum.com
            • Amazon Reviews
              • Step 1: Find a product or book on your Market Map that is sold through Amazon, and open that page.
              • Step 2: Read the 2- and 3-star reviews.
              • Step 3: Take note of any interesting complaints that people have within those reviews.
          3. Keywords
            • Benefits
              • What keywords your target audience is typing into search engines.
            • Google Related Searches
              • Step 1: Type in any keyword related to your target market, then hit enter.
              • Step 2: Scroll down to the bottom to locate the “Searches Related to:” section.
              • Step 3: Record those keywords into your Customer P.L.A.N. Spreadsheet
              • Step 4: Keep clicking through the links in the “Searches Related to:” to find long tail keywords.
      • A: Anecdotes
        • Benefits
          • An anecdote is a short, interesting story.
          • Whenever you’re speaking to a brand new customer in your posts, in your emails, or in your sales copy, you can remember the person’s story.
          • Imagine how the person would feel using your product on his first day—would he need extra help or instruction? Would he even know where to begin?
          • What’s something you could do to help the person have a great day on their first using it?
        • In Person
          • The best place to hear stories is in person.
          • During any one-on-one conversations see if you can get them to tell you a story that relates to their pains and problems.
          • Start off by saying, “Tell me a story about when you…”
        • Forum Search
          • Here’s a list of search terms:
            • “amazing story”
            • “great story”
            • “awesome story”
            • “good story”
          • Here is another list that doesn’t turn up as many good results:
            • “tell you a story”
            • “one time I was”
            • “I remember when”
            • “share a story”
            • “happened to me”
            • “I figured it out”
        • Audio Podcast Interviews
          • Insert a few relevant keywords all in one line, such as: podcast "story of" "fly fishing"
      • N: Needs
        • Benefits
          • Understand that a need is different than the product or business that you’re potentially going to validate and build.
          • A need is what you believe your customers require to solve a problem, and the product or business becomes the mechanism to fulfill that requirement.
        • Instructions
          • Start this exercise in the Problems column in your P.L.A.N. sheet.
          • Using the problems column, determine your target audience’s respective needs.
    • 14 Elixirs
      • Add one more column to your P.L.A.N. spreadsheet and title it Elixir.
      • Come up with what you feel would be the best remedy for the problem.
      • Don’t let your “editor brain” get in the way.
      • You’ll come up with ideas that already exist, and that’s okay. It’s a sign that you’re on the right path, and because of the research you’ve done it shouldn’t be too difficult to differentiate
      • Instructions
        • Step 1: Eliminate all but one row and one solution on your matrix.
        • Step 2: Sit on that idea for a day.
        • Step 3: Conduct a second mind mapping exercise with your new target solution as the focal point.
        • Step 4: One page, one paragraph, one sentence.
  • Part 4: Flight Simulator

    • 15 The Silent Hero
      • Outlines the benefits of the flight simulator or validation beforehand.
    • 16 Principles of Validation
      • Listen to others, but trust your numbers.
      • Tim’s method of validation was using Google AdWords, an advertising platform, to gauge interest by placing ads for these products to determine whether or not there was a demand. People would see these ads, click through to the sales page, and click the buy now button to make a purchase. There was no product, of course, so the user would be prompted with an “out of stock” message,
      • Benefits
        • You receive invaluable feedback from the actions people take.
        • Even if your pre-sale fails to generate even one purchase, you will still end up with a clear direction to (not) move forward, reassess, and tweak.
        • You get early experience selling something.
        • Momentum starts to build and you gain the confidence required to sell.
        • You can get money in your pocket upfront.
        • It will motivate you to follow through and get things done! Beyond the money that can come in as a result of pre-ordering, the fact that there are actually people on the other end who have trusted you with their money will get you moving, because you will not want to let those people down.
    • 17 The Validation Method
      • Step 1: Get in front of an audience.
        • This is where a lot of people stumble with validation.
        • Targeted Advertising
          • You will have to pay for the ads.
          • If no one clicks on your ad, does that mean your idea doesn’t work? Not necessarily. It just means the ad wasn’t working, which is the potential problem with this particular method.
          • If you run ads and they do work, keep note of that ad and the language that you used to earn those clicks. But be wary that it simply validates that advertisement.
          • Examples
            • Google AdWords
            • Facebook
            • Twitter
        • Private Targeted Advertising
          • Likely have to pay for these ads.
          • Deal directly with the owner of a website.
          • You already have the Places and People listed in your Market Map.
          • Strike up a conversation and build a real relationship with these people first.
        • Guest Posting
          • Can be one of the most powerful ways to start the validation process.
          • Doesn’t cost any money, but does cost time.
        • Forums
          • People are going to be very protective of their space, so you have to spend a little bit of time building a rapport.
          • Pick two or three of the forums in your database and spend at least a week posting valuable information and responding to questions.
          • Get even deeper into your market research, and pinpoint a few individuals.
        • Groups
          • Social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
          • Suggest starting with three to five groups and participating daily for a week.
        • The “Poster Child” Formula
          • Every influencer wants to show their audience that what they are teaching or sharing with the world is making an impact.
          • If you become their “poster child”—a case study of someone who has used that content or a product and has benefited from it in some way—there’s a good chance that you will be shared and be able to get in front of a targeted audience.
        • The Derek Halpern Strategy
          • Derek reached out and immediately provided me with some value.
          • He shared a quick tip with me to help me increase the number of email subscribers I was getting each day.
          • He then offered to do a free, full-site review.
          • His information was so good that I decided to create an entire video featuring Derek’s advice and sharing that on my YouTube channel and blog.
          • He did this for several other people who also shared his work in some way, shape, or form.
        • Offline Audiences
          • Try to land a speaking gig at an upcoming conference that you know your target audience attends.
          • Not only start a conversation with these people, but also allow you to begin to make a name for yourself.
        • Crowdfunding Platforms
          • KickStarter and Indiegogo
          • Benefits
            • You get the exposure from the existing audience that those platforms have.
            • They are trusted marketplaces where people are comfortable using the platform to pledge and pre-order items.
            • The platforms enable you to communicate with people about your project, even after the pledge period ends so you can keep them informed about the project build and other news.
            • You can begin to build a following.
            • It’s possible to generate a sizable amount of income, even beyond what your pledge goal might be.
          • Why not just get on KickStarter and validate my idea there?”
            • All crowdfunding platforms take a cut of your overall pledge earnings.
            • You have to have a good campaign page.
            • Requires high-quality video, superb copywriting, and compelling pledge rewards.
            • Fulfillment of pledge items has taken over some people’s lives.
            • It’s not a fully controlled small-scale experiment anymore.
        • You could start a platform of your own like a blog, podcast, or video channel to slowly build an audience and authority from there, but these strategies will help you gain traction much faster
      • Step 2: Hyper-target (a.k.a. The Hand Raise).
        • Getting people in that larger target market to self-identify as someone who wants or needs your particular solution.
        • You’re not yet presenting your actual solution at this point. If you were to ask everyone if they were interested in your solution, you’re going to get a “no” from several people simply because not everyone will need that solution. That’s why it’s important to filter those people out through this process.
        • First ask them a question or propose a relevant scenario that elicits a “yes” or “that’s me” response. Examples:
          • Comment or response in a forum, blog post, or social media post
          • Click on a link, such as ones within an email, blog post, or even an advertisement
          • Downloading something
          • Subscribing to an email list
          • Sending you a personal email
          • Picking up the phone and calling you
        • This is the first step in a “yes-ladder” which is a psychological technique where you start with small positive responses that lead to an increased likelihood of drawing out a positive response from a bigger ask down the road.
      • Step 3: Interact and share your solution.
        • Start to engage with the people who have signaled interest.
        • All selling starts with the relationship, by getting the person on the other end to know, like, and trust you.
        • One-on-one methods ranked from most effective (top) to the least effective (bottom), but also most time consuming in the same order.
          • In person
          • A video call, like a Google Hangout or Skype conversation
          • A phone call
          • A private message (i.e. on a forum or social media channel)
          • A direct one-on-one email
        • Methods you can use to interact with a large number ranked most effective (top) to the least effective (bottom).
          • A live stream or webinar with chat functionality
          • A live stream or webinar without chat functionality
          • An email broadcast
          • A web page with an explainer video
          • A web page with text and images only
          • Morse code :)
        • Three things you must do first before you present your solution
          • Take a minute to learn about them first (while also confirming they are in the right place) by simply asking a question or two:
            • “So how long have you been doing __________?”
            • Don’t forget about the language you’ve learned about this audience in your Customer P.L.A.N. This is one of those moments where that information can come in handy.
          • Qualify yourself by sharing a little bit about who you are, but also why they should continue to listen to you. A quick story can work well, too.
          • Be upfront about the fact that you’re hoping to get their honest feedback on something you believe will help them that isn’t built or available yet, but that you will create and sell it if there is enough interest.
          • All of the above should take no longer than two or three minutes.
        • The Pitch
          • You’re not asking for any kind of payment yet, but you are selling your idea to the person on the other end to determine whether or not this is a solution that solves their pain or problem that makes sense to them.
          • How you describe your solution to your prospect will be based heavily on what you’ve done in your mind mapping exercise and what you’ve written on your “one page, one paragraph, one sentence” exercise, and I would lead with that one focused sentence.
          • Share a prototype. Not anything close to what the final product will become but something visual beyond words.
            • If it’s a software product, for example, your mock-up could simply be a wireframe or rough sketch of the interface.
            • If it’s a book, perhaps you list the outline of it. If it’s a physical product and you don’t have access to a hands-on prototype, maybe it’s a 3D rendering or sketches of it.
      • Step 4: Ask for the transaction.
        • If pitching in a group setting you’ll want to provide your call to action immediately.
        • Provide a web address where they can pay to be a part of the early adopter program after you provide value and share what you’re planning.
        • In a live one-on-one setting, you have a couple options. You could ask for the transaction immediately, or you could follow up a day later.
        • Here’s an example email:
          • Hey Jim, thanks again for taking the time to chat with me the other day about my idea, it was extremely helpful. As I mentioned before, I’m reaching out to several people to gauge interest and a lot of people shared the same feedback that you did, which is exciting! I really want to build this, but I need to know for sure this is something people like you would be interested in before moving forward. In my experience, a lot of people say they would use or buy something, but only because they’re being nice and don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. In order for me to know for sure, I need 10 people to pre-order before I move forward with this. If I don’t get 10, then I’ll simply cancel the pre-order and no one will be charged anything. Because you were so interested, I’d love to have you become one of the first users. You won’t be charged until the product is released, and you’ll be one of the first to get access to it. Plus, I’d love for you to be involved in the process of building it, too, just so I can make sure it does what you need it to do. I’m thinking of selling this in the future for $100 or so, but the pre-order price is currently $50. If you’d like to be a part of this special group, all you have to do is click on the link below, which will bring you to a page and initiate a checkout process: [link to pre-order page] Thanks again, Jim, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
        • Both pre-orders and actual real-time payments work for validation because both require people to plug in their payment information.
        • The benefit of pre-orders is that there’s a higher sense of security because the customer doesn’t get charged until the product goes live.
        • The benefit of an actual upfront payment, however, is that you get money in hand that could be used for production and development.
        • How high should you price your product?
          • Think ahead of time about how your product will be priced once it’s available to the public, and consider offering your early adopters an extremely generous discount.
          • Look at your competitor’s prices to get an idea. You have an entire list of products and services in your 3-Ps exercise.
        • What mechanism do you use to collect pre-orders?
          • For digital products, I would recommend Gumroad (Gumroad.com).
          • If your idea isn’t a digital product, you can still use this system to collect pre-orders.
          • Another option is to use services like Celery
        • How do you keep in contact with your customers after they pay or pre-order?
          • It is extremely important to keep in consistent contact.
          • A weekly or bi-weekly broadcast email with progress updates and inquiries for feedback.
          • If you don’t have an email service provider to collect emails into a list to send broadcast messages to, simply collect all of your customers’ email addresses and send them an email all together with their email address in BCC.
          • Another way you can keep people excited is to create a private Facebook group
        • What should my minimum be? How many people should I have order before it’s a yes?
          • Goal is to have 10%
        • How many prospects you should speak to in total?
          • 50 is a good amount.
        • What if I don’t get to my minimum?
          • Because of the way we’ve set this up, you can easily hone in on the part that didn’t work, figure out why, make changes and then try again.
          • After a week, if you don’t hear back from your prospects or they reply with a no, you have permission to send them one more email asking why.
          • Here’s what that follow-up email might look like:
            • Subject: Hey Jim, did I do something wrong? Hey Jim, I didn’t hear from you after my email to you last week, so I wanted to send you one more. It will only take a second to respond to. You had previously expressed interest in my product idea but then didn’t end up pre-ordering, and I’m emailing to learn why. If you could hit reply and answer this question I’d greatly appreciate it as I’m doing all I can to make sure I create something great for you and others like yourself. Thanks, and I hope to hear from you soon!
    • 18 Validation in Action
      • Case Study #1: Joey Korenman, Founder of School of Motion
      • Case Study #2: Bryan Harris, Founder of Video Fruit
      • Case Study #3: Jennifer Barcelos, Founder of NamaStream.com
      • Case Study #4: Jarrod Robinson, Founder of The PE Geek
      • Case Study #5: Noah Kagan, Founder of SumoJerky.com
        • Takeaways
          1. Real-time communication (Skype, Gtalk, texting, phone-calls) wins. This was the most effective way in selling vs. more passive forms (emails, Facebook/Twitter posts).
          2. Ask for referrals. If someone isn’t interested, ask who is. If someone is interested, just ask for one person who they think will like it too. I incentivized this with an extra month of jerky with any successful referral.
          3. Downsells work. If someone didn’t want 3 months, I asked if they were okay with just 1 month of jerky.
          4. You can’t sell everyone. With limited time, anyone who did not eat jerky or didn’t care about high-quality specialty jerky wasn’t worth selling to.
          5. Focus on what already works. Quickly, I noticed offices already order snacks AND have larger budgets to expense things (perfect).
          6. Ask people what they want. If people liked a certain type of jerky already, I noted that and will just get them the kinds they like. Why guess? Work backwards from what people already want.
          7. Social media is noisy. I posted twice on both Facebook/Twitter to make sure anybody who knows me has a better chance of finding my jerky. I usually assume one tweet should reach everyone, it doesn’t.
          8. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to start a business. With only 24 hours and $7.99, I got this biz going. You don’t need to spend tons of money and time to validate a business.
          9. The secret to success … is work. That’s it. It’s hard and tiring but if you want it, you can do anything.
          10. You’ve got to ask. I focused on people who I thought the jerky would genuinely be good for. It is a bit uncomfortable but I noticed that’s generally the case when you aren’t promoting something you believe in.
          11. Build (or maintain) your network. If you complain you don’t have enough people to sell to, build it now. I noticed I hadn’t reached out to many friends in awhile. You have to tend to your “garden” or it will decay.
          12. What it all boils down to is you. If you really want it and are willing to work, the lifestyle you want is available to you.
  • Part 5: All Systems Go

    • 19 Countdown
      • The worst thing you could do is stop.
      • You’ve got momentum on your side which means knowing what to do next and then taking action
      • Countdown
        1. Break it down and appreciate the small wins along the way.
          • You have to celebrate the small wins along the way or else you’d drive yourself crazy.
        2. Get support.
          • Support from loved ones is extremely helpful.
          • Connect with other like-minded people.
          • Formal, consistent manner like in a mastermind group.
        3. Treat your customers like gold.
          • Create special moments for your customers.
          • Unexpected surprises.
          • Over deliver.
        4. Remember why.
          • Why have you decided to become an entrepreneur?
          • Recall everything you wrote down in the four sectors during the airport exercise.
        5. Enjoy the ride.