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Just exited my second company…
Tried to live the ‘perfect life’. Went traveling with aspirations to possibly live on the beach for a while.
I was thinking at least 6 months time off….
Did the usual beach life ritual dance around Phuket, Bali and had plans to go further. Even contemplated breaking my back (literally) to be a trendy yogi.
But two weeks in….
I am depressed. Feeling like the bum who leeches off society. I am becoming common.
Last thing I want to feel is common… Let alone a depressed commoner.
Screw the beach…
Few weeks later I am back at work trying to figure out what to do next.
Started reflecting on past two years it took to build my company and realised something was just not there. The killer instinct I had whilst building my first company was not there anymore.
The will to survive at any cost was missing.
I was clearly a lot smarter than the first time around, but it just wasn’t the same. Pretty clear now what happened:
- A life changing experience that caused the collapse of the first company made me a little chilled out.
- Because I was doing financially ok, it made me less hungry. The ambition was there but the hunger had gone. As it’s been said ‘It’s hard to get out of bed when you are wearing silk pyjamas’.
As Mickey says in Rocky III:
“The worst thing that happened to you, that can happen to any fighter: you got civilised.”
That is what happened to me.
I got civilised.
Whereas first time around I was a stupid broke 26 years old willing to do whatever it took to make it big. That is the reason I was able to build that company close to 100 staff members within 3 years.
Surely I made a ton of mistakes. My relations, health etc suffered…But I miss those days of being hungry and stupid.
I need that hunger back. Need a challenge big enough to keep me interested.
So here is what I am going to do:
Challenge is to build a company with $100k per month recurring revenue in the shortest time possible.
Rings a bell?
Yes I have been a big fan of GrooveHQ blog and been following them for a while. The idea is somewhat borrowed from them.
Here is how I am going to add to that..
Take this as an entrepreneurs journey about how he works his way from scratch to $100k/month revenue. It will be a live case study.
Let me be very clear. At this point I have few things in mind I would like to pursue but not a clear idea.
I am starting completely fresh. I will document and publish everything here along the way including my approaches to:
- Testing different ideas and business models.
- Researching and validating a market
- Product development and launch.
- Marketing, strategic partnerships, sales etc
- Hiring and managing a team
- Pretty much complete company life cycle
Inspired by the transparency of Bufferapp, I will be very transparent and will share as much data as possible including Analytics, results of our strategies, revenues etc.
I tend to take a very scientific approach to everything so expect to see me testing many different things. Along the way expect plenty of temporary failures but that is part of the fun.
As I try to find my way to $100k/month revenues, focus will get more and more narrow on a particular market and product. Until then there will be a lot of researching different markets and testing different business models.
Why $100k/month? Why not more?
I truly believe any business that is generating $100k/month has enough legs to scale to $1 Million/month or more.
If anything I think getting to $100k/month is the hardest part in a business’s life cycle for various reasons:
- You are still trying to figure out whether your business has product-market fit.
- You are still trying to figure out who your ideal customer is.
- Your product or solution is still maturing i.e you are still tweaking/improving it.
In so many ways getting to $100k/month i.e initial traction is a benchmark that you have overcome those challenges.
At least I know if I have a business generating that much revenue I have a good enough product that sells. I know exactly who my customers are. For example if I have 1000 customers generating that much revenue, I just need to find 9000 more of the exact customers to get to $1 Million/month (Initial Scale).
At that point I know I have a business that is ready to be scaled and can eventually be sold for 100s of millions.
Anyway let’s not get ahead of ourselves and get to $100k/month.
So what is the plan?
The premise is very simple.
- Find a lucrative market
- Find pain points people are facing within it
- Build and provide solutions around pain points
- Serve the customers in that market better than anyone else.
- Double down on customer success. Make sure we are serving the customer so well that no one can compete by providing the best products, customer service at best possible prices.
I have slight biased towards building technology products as I have lots of experience in it. So it is very likely we would build SaaS/Technology products for the market but at this point I can not say for sure.
Customer will drive our success. So whatever customers demand in that market, we will try to provide.
It could be a Saas Product, E-Commerce store, distributing physical goods or services. It is very likely to be a combination of all.
Like I said as we test different things, our focus will narrow very shortly.
One common thing you will see is that I will leverage my online marketing skills in every step of the way.
What it would not be:
- It will not be a consulting/coaching firm that requires where I am selling mine or my team’s time for money. That is not a scalable model and frankly I have no interest in it.
- It will not be a business where it will always require me to run it. Even though I will build it, I will always systematise it so I can be easily replaced by another CEO and can be sold.
My recent encounter with a company really opened my eyes to the real meaning of Lean Startup. Made me realise you really don’t need that many people or funds to build a highly profitable and scalable company.
Also I want this challenge as an ongoing case study to help any entrepreneur to learn from my mistakes, learnings, successes.
So here is how I am going to do to keep it lean:
- The company will be bootstrapped until we get to $100k/month revenue. I will liquidate everything I have got and invest it if needed.
- We will keep the team size small and costs as low as possible.
- Speed kills… As a bootstrapped company with limited funds the only way we can win and compete is by executing, testing things with lightning speed. That is the biggest weapon we have at our disposal and will fully utilize it.
Again I will document everything we try and will publish it.
I am naturally very impatient. I have always been in a hurry.
Even though with the amount of content I will publish, you will soon realise I will be working on this business 24/7 until I get to $100k/month revenue.
However I am intentionally not setting a deadline.
I want to build something I can eventually grow to be a unicorn so it’s better I get my foundations right rather than rush into something.
But believe me we will get to $100k/month revenue very soon.
Some areas of expertise, interesting markets and emerging tech:
I have always wanted to be in Health Tech. For some reason I never got a chance. So right now I might be looking at the dental market for various reasons:
- It’s a huge and lucrative market
- It’s a fragmented industry where each dental practice is its own business.
- Dentists typically have more money to spend on products/services
- Its an evergreen market i.e people are not going to stop going to dentists any time soon.
- There is a lot of technical advancements in that market e.g 3D printing, Stem cell etc.
I have a lot of experience in building SaaS products so I would be naturally inclined towards it but will look into a lot different things too.
Right now I guess it’s a buzzword and everyone seems to use. However I have keen interest in machine learning and have been playing around with it for a while.
Real question is what industry/problem do I tackle using machine learning? That is something I will try to figure out. It could be dental industry but where in it? I will work on it.
Another interest of mine. Been playing around with it for a while but not sure how commercially scalable it can be given the context of my challenge.
There has been a lot of noise about it in health industry so let’s look into it.
Few other things
I am London based with a team in Lahore. Right now I have two people working in the team who would help me with all sorts of thing like research, marketing etc.
Over time depending on what I narrow down to, I would hire more team members such as developers, designers, customer support etc.
I am documenting and publishing everything about my challenge for another selfish reason.
I know I am going to learn a lot, make a ton of mistake but better than anything get critical feedback from my readers.
I want this to be a crowdsourced project. You can not possibly offend me so please give me plenty of feedback, ideas etc.
I would be very grateful if you can start with leaving a comment and let me know any of the following:
- What do you think of my challenge? What can I do better?
- What industry should I get into and why?
- What products/solution do you reckon I should build?