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What To Do When You Need To Get To Minimum Viable Income Fast (FS139)

“Help! I lost my job. Now I have 60 days to launch a business and get to ramen profitability.” That’s where Fizzler Josh found himself recently and in this episode we share our best advice for what he should do next.

What would you do? If you had to make ends meet in a short amount of time, what would you sell? How would you find clients? What would your pitch be?

This is where a Fizzler named Josh really is. He brought his question to the Fizzle Forums and in this episode we share his story, breaking down some of the common mistakes and best places to start when you need to get to a minimum viable income fast.

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Show Notes

Top 10 Mistakes in Starting an Online Business Guide — Fizzle

How to Turn One Piece of Content into Nine (and Increase Your Return on Effort by 568%)

Fizzle members: Lost my job. Have 60 days to launch, get ramen-profitable & find a new city – General Chat – Fizzle Forums

“Back to Square One.” Rebuilding a Freelance Career

BNI International – Business Networking and Referrals

How to Sell a $5,000 Consulting Project in Less Than a Week

The cold emails that got me meetings at Twitter, LinkedIn and GitHub | Startup Moon

The Situation

Josh took a job in a new city and not too long later, he lost that job. Looking for new jobs is slowly “killing his soul” and he wants to try something different.

He’s tried a bit of freelance work here and there for over a decade. Despite that, he’s never made an honest attempt to build a sustainable, independent business and it’s time for that to change.

He has 60 days to make a decision about whether he wants to move to a new city. In that time, he needs to launch his business and land a couple clients to get to “ramen profitable.”

(Ramen profitable is a term we use interchangeably with “Minimum Viable Income” to describe the amount of income you would need to make so that if you lost your job today you could cover your basic needs without searching for another job.)

Josh worries that he’ll have a hard time finding clients at the end of the calendar year since he finds himself in this situation just before Thanksgiving. Additionally, he has a self-imposed fear that he’s already missed his chance to start a business using his expertise and skills. He worries that there are too many competitors for him to be successful.

The Questions

After Josh explained his situation in the Fizzle forums, he posed a few questions for the Fizzle community and our team:

  • What am I missing?
  • Is it possible to hit the ground running and get ramen profitable in the next 60 days?
  • What do I need to do to combat the fear that I’m late to the party in starting a business?
  • How should I go about finding initial customers? Should I be cold emailing? Networking? Calling on friends? Help!?

By The Numbers: Getting to Minimum Viable Income in 60 Days or Less

It’s important to consider the reality in a situation like Josh’s. Starting from scratch with 60 days to start earning enough money to consistently support yourself… well, let’s just say that’s a tall order no matter how long you have, and the time constraint only makes it that much harder.

Nonetheless, the most sensible place to start is with the numbers. With any question that involves getting to a specific amount of income in a specific time period, the numbers matter (perhaps more than anything else).

We typically start any conversation about minimum viable income with a basic assumption: $48,000 a year is enough money to get by, but not enough for most people to live comfortably. We admit that anyone with a family might need much more to meet their minimum viable income, while a recent college graduate could potentially get by on less.

Based on Josh’s situation, it sounds like he has the skills and experience to offer conversion optimization and a/b testing consulting services for business clients.

Corbett kicks off the math conversation with a basic calculation: most services like the one Josh plans to offer can be sold for at least $100 per hour. At $100 per hour, Josh would need to work 40 billable hours per month to make $4,000 each month. $4,000 times 12 months in a year equals $48,000.

There are many alternatives to pricing by the hour as well. For example, to price by the project, you might try to sell four $1,000 projects or two $2,000 projects per month. These projects could be based on proposals specific to each potential client.

The Mindset You’ll Need to Build a Sustainable Business

Corbett raises an important point midway through the conversation, saying, “An equally big question [to the money question] is, where is his mindset at and is he setting himself up for failure by looking at this as I have to do this in 60 days or else it’s not worth it?”

It’s not impossible, but it’s certainly much more difficult to build an income generating business in 60 days than it is to do the same over the course of a year. We usually ask entrepreneurs to be patient, and trust the process, even if that means it takes time. By expecting to succeed within 60 days, it’s possible that Josh could not only fail, but also give up on becoming an entrepreneur and building a business at all. That’s the worst possible outcome.

On cue, Chase weighs in with his typical wisdom, “You can run fast or you can run far, but you can’t run far fast.” And in that goofy saying, there’s the truth of the matter. Right now, Josh needs to hurry up and make money by any means necessary. It may not be the ideal way to make money in the long term, but making money now will allow him to build the business strategically later.

““You can run fast or you can run far, but you can’t run far fast.””

Even with the Right Mindset, You Have to Have a Clear Offering

If and when you find yourself in a situation like Josh, your mindset is crucial. However, a great mindset will not magically generate revenue. You have to have a clear and compelling product or service. Then, you have to make that offering available to people who value it enough to pay for it.

In this case, Josh has a clear skillset built on website conversion optimization and A/B testing. For you, it might be business coaching, personal chef services, custom furniture building, or teaching piano lessons. Regardless, the same principles apply when you’re in a pinch and need to sell services fast:

  1. Define three distinct offerings.
  2. Put a price on each offering.
  3. Make sure your pricing includes a low-cost offering, a high-end offering, and a mid-tier offering. The high-end offering will serve as a price anchor for the other two.
  4. Put these three offerings and the pricing information on a one-pager that you can use as a cheat sheet when talking to potential clients (and as a leave behind when you finish meetings).

Sell, Sell, Sell

When you’re on a time crunch to start making money fast, the best way to do that is by selling services to people who already need those services. Let us repeat: the job to be done here is to sell services.

It would be easy for Josh to convince himself that he should be building a website, launching a podcast, or having coffee meetings to get advice from mentors. But in reality, none of those things will help Josh get any closer to earning a minimum viable income in the 60 days he has available.

Josh’s job (and yours, if you are in a similar situation) is simple: sell, sell, sell. That is your one and only job until you have enough clients to meet your income needs. Even then, you should always be working to find new potential clients and starting the sales process.

To start a basic sales process, you should:

  1. Make a list of every person you know who might be interested in purchasing your services today
  2. Make a list of every person you know of who might be interested in purchasing your services today
  3. Put two clear cups on your desk. Put 10 paper clips in one cup. Each day, move one paper clip to the empty cup for every potential client you reach out to. When you’ve moved all 10 paper clips from one cup to the other, you’re done with your sales work for that day.
  4. Reach out by email or phone to ask for a meeting with each person you know who might be interested in your services
  5. Ask people in your network for introductions to the people you know of who might be interested in your services.
  6. Reach out by email or phone to ask for a meeting with each person you get introduced to.
  7. Conduct your sales meetings. A one-two punch meeting strategy like the one I outline in this article will help you close sales more effectively.
  8. Follow up on every sales meeting with a proposal specific to that potential client.
  9. Specifically ask your potential clients when it would be appropriate to follow up for a decision.
  10. Call when you say you’ll call. Go for the no. Every no you get is one step closer to a yes. Why? Not everyone will say no. And the only way you get to yes is to help your potential client make a decision.

This is all a big game. Might as well have fun playing.

“This isn’t a game, this is my life,” you say. Yes, of course it is. You’re a valuable human being and we care about you. But if you treat every sales meeting like it’s life or death, you’re bound to fail. If you don’t have fun along the way, you’ll not only miss your income goal, but you’ll burn out on building a business.

In the end, sales is a game. It’s a game that requires you to have perseverance and self-confidence. It requires that the day after you hear no 10 times our of 10, you get right back on the phone and try again.

Remember: the only reason you have to take this path today is because of self-imposed constraints. If you find yourself in Josh’s position, with your back against the wall and a need for income in the next 60 days, then this is the path forward.

But if you can change your circumstances to allow you to take a bit more time, that changes everything. Building a business is hard. Never rule out the possibility of alternative options in the short term so you can build a business you believe in over the long haul.

Have you ever found yourself in Josh’s position? How did you handle it? Share you story in the comments.



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