Your Move

Your Move

The Underdog’s Guide to Building Your Business

Ramit Sethi

Summary in 100 words or less

The best entrepreneurs know that they have an obligation to ask for the sale because that’s the best way to help their customers. Money is the marker that you're doing the right thing because people pay you for the value you create and the problems you solve. And the more you make, the more value you can create. Focus on what you can control, ignore what you cannot. Instead of focusing on the competition, focus on your audience.


My Highlights

A successful business is about more than money. It’s about more success, more peace of mind, more time for friends and family.

The best way to earn extra money by far is by starting your own business. Why? Because with things like salary negotiations and selling on eBay, there’s a natural ceiling you’re going to hit. For example, even if you’re the world’s best negotiator, there’s only so much a company can pay you. But when you start your own business, there’s no limit to how much you can earn.

The biggest failures aren’t things you did. They’re things you didn’t do. Playing it safe is one of the biggest failures possible. The first step is learning to recognize it in every facet of our lives.

The very best in the world are relentless at mastering the fundamentals. Kobe Bryant spent hours working on dribbling drills every day. Dave Chappelle and Jerry Seinfeld practice comedy sets in small comedy clubs to this day.

Here’s why: First, you want to stay sharp. Second, you can always learn something from everyone, no matter what they do. And third, the bigger your business gets, the more impactful a single insight can be.

The best entrepreneurs know we have an obligation to ask for the sale because that’s the best way to help our customers. The best entrepreneurs know we have to avoid reporting the “fake” numbers and focus on the number that matters — sales.

It’s not hard to get your customers to take the first step. You can get people into your store. You can get people onto your web site, or to read your blog. You can even get them to sign up for your email list. But it takes trust for someone to actually pull out their wallet and pay you money because they believe you can help them solve their problems.

Rule #1: People pay me for the value I create. In other words, if I create value, people will be more than happy to pay me for it.

Rule #2. The more I make, the more value I can create. I can invest back into the business, by building systems, creating technology, and hiring new people.

Rule #3. Money is a marker that I’m doing the right thing. We’re going to avoid fake proxies of success, like how many people like my Facebook page. Instead, we’ll focus on the ultimate sign that you’ve created something the world wants: Sales.

Whatever your idea is, it has to be something somebody wants. Otherwise, you’ll invest money and time building a business that only attracts looky-loos: Those people who come into your store, browse for 20 minutes, and never buy anything.

If you only take one thing away from this book, it should be this: Create something that people want to buy.

To come up with online business ideas, ask yourself these 4 questions:

  1. What do I already pay for?
  2. What skills do I have?
  3. What do my friends say I’m great at?
  4. What do I do on Saturday morning?

Actually listening is the critical differentiator between a successful business with happy customers… and everyone else.

You want to get to know their hopes, fears, and dreams. You want to get at the very evocative things people are feeling inside. The best part is, they want to tell you. They want to get this off their chest if you’re willing to listen.

This single skill alone is a major differentiator for us. It’s how we know precisely what customers want, and how we can solve it for them. We listen, grab all those insights, and write down real, juicy quotes into a simple document.

Marshall Goldsmith, one of the world’s top executive coaches, put it to me this way: “Your biggest challenge [is] customer selection. You pick the right customer, you win. You pick the wrong customer, you lose. Focus on helping great people get better.”

It’s not a superpower. It’s a skill. Figuring that out is the first step every true entrepreneur needs to take. So start reading as much as you can about successful entrepreneurs’ histories, paying particular attention to where they started, what they were doing before they “made it,” and any failures they encountered along the way.

If you don’t learn to embrace mistakes, you get stuck in analysis paralysis. You spend all your time thinking instead of acting. You can’t grow a successful business that way any more than you can drive a car that’s stuck in neutral.

Successful entrepreneurs don’t focus on themselves — they focus on helping others.

The answer is that most of us — and most beginners — focus on the wrong things. We worry about minutiae that won’t change a thing and mentally exhausts us. Experienced pros have gone through this phase (it’s natural, after all), and know what to pay attention to and what to ignore. Focusing on the right things is a true superpower.

In a world full of websites and e-books and apps, the moment you look and sound like everyone else, you’re dead.

When we let ourselves and our businesses become vanilla, when we try to appeal to everyone, we instantly become a commodity.

There are a million different ways to approach any topic. The key is: Instead of focusing on the competition, focus on your audience.

Know the best practices, execute them. Then, when you understand the rules and why they exist, you can start to break them. But don’t be different for the sake of being different.

Understand that people value what they pay for. You’re not doing them a disservice by charging them, you’re actually doing a profound service for the people who want to take action.

If you are solving a problem that’s important to people, and if you have the credibility so that they believe you can solve it, then price becomes a mere triviality.

To sell, you need to know four key things about your customers: their hopes, dreams, pain points, and fears.

Live to fight another day, and trust that your future self will be able to solve problems later on.

For anyone starting out today, here are the three things I recommend you become world class at:

  1. Learning how to sell
  2. Writing amazing emails or blog posts that people open and read
  3. Learning how to build a team (even a small one)

It’s comforting to think that if you find the right 2-3 “timeless principles,” you can build an entire company around them.

Realize is that most of your days will be spent in gray areas. A better assumption: What got you here won’t get you there Therefore, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. This is really, really hard.

How to be a professional: Being 100% prepared. Being proactive Teach them to revere your work.

Having mentors supercharged me to get where I was going faster, and also course-correcting me if I made wrong decisions along the way.

If you want to befriend a really busy, famous person, the first thing you do is you don’t ask them for anything. These people are surrounded by people who want something from them! Hundreds, sometimes even thousands of people.

My favorite way of starting up those regular communications and building rapport is taking people out to coffee. You have to reach out to potential mentors and ask them about them. They love being experts in what they’re asked about — as long as you’re asking good questions.

Think about how easy it is to quit — and how rare it is to find someone who’ll push you harder than you ever thought was possible.

I have a failures folder set up in my email account. If I’m not sending five to seven failures there a month, I’m actually failing at failing. I know that I’m not trying enough, so I’m not failing enough, as well.

If fear of failure is paralyzing you, then I strongly recommend you set a tiny, realistic goal for the day. When you achieve it, then move on to the next tiny, realistic goal. Your business is going to see better results from taking action on small goals then dreaming about unrealistic big goals that you never achieve.

If you compare yourself to what everyone else is doing, you’re going to be stuck there forever for no reason at all.

Focus on what you can control, ignore what you cannot. That sounds obvious, but when we look at our actual behavior, it’s actually quite unbelievable how much time we spend focusing on the things we cannot control. For example, the economy, politics, negative people, other people’s businesses, these are all things we generally cannot control, and yet we spend a lot of energy worrying about them.

You can make even more sales by simply changing two things: how early on you offer your paid products, and how often you offer them.

Jay Abraham calls being your client or customer’s “trusted advisor.” If you view yourself as their trusted advisor, and you have a product or service that will truly help them, then you should be doing everything in your power to let them know about it and offer it to them.

More book notes

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
The $100 Startup
Business Without the Bullsh*t
It’s a Jungle in There

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