CEO of AppSumo and author of Million Dollar Weekend Noah Kagan is on a mission to inspire people to start their own million-dollar companies.
Noah’s entrepreneurship journey involved working for some of the fastest growing startups: He was the 30th employee at Facebook and the fourth employee at Mint. These experiences inspired him to take more ownership of his own future. “Having your own business gives you that option, so that no one can take away your livelihood,” Noah says.
Ahead, Noah shares his quick-start guide to building your own empire, with expert tips you can act on now.
5 things you can do this weekend to start a business
Noah says anyone can be an entrepreneur, but most people need a push to get started. The process of launching a website and getting your first customers doesn’t need to take months or years.
1. Look for business opportunities in your own life
You don’t need to have a million-dollar idea that you’ve been stewing on. Noah recommends mining your own life for ideas. For example, looking at your credit card bill and seeing what categories or products you spend a lot of money on. Is there a way to make those products cheaper or more convenient?
He also likes to look at things people have been avoiding, such as hanging up pictures in their home. Are there services or products you could sell that could make those annoying tasks a little easier? “Then you start realizing a lot of the most exciting problems are ones you have yourself,” Noah says.
2. Improve your sales skills
Noah interviews millionaires and billionaires for his YouTube channel, and they all say the same thing: Getting better at sales helped them become more successful. “Every no is getting you closer to one yes,” Noah says.
You can start getting better at sales by simply making a few asks one weekend and getting comfortable with rejection.
Noah’s tip is to start asking for discounts from businesses you deal with as a way to ease into asking for money. You could try renegotiating your Internet bill or asking your Airbnb host for a discount. They’ll probably say no, but getting comfortable with putting yourself out there is a valuable lesson for a founder.
3. Validate your idea with real customers
Once you have an idea for a million-dollar business, don’t wait to get customers. See if you can get them to give you their email or even a deposit for a pre-order. “What you’re looking for is an excitement to give you that money,” Noah says.
One popular way to do this is to make a landing page or a Shopify site and see if you can gather a few pre-orders in 48 hours. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, either. You might be able to make video content for free with your phone to drive people to your website.
4. Research the growth potential
Even if people want your products or services, the demand doesn’t mean it’ll make a good business. You’ll want to make sure that the business model will support your goals—meaning it’ll make enough profit to be sustainable.
Noah says to ask yourself, “If I wanted to make a million dollars, how many items do I have to sell?” Take the price that you plan to sell it for, subtract the cost and shipping, and evaluate how many you would need to sell to make a profit. You can also look at other factors, like whether the market is growing in Google Trends, and do research on how much people spend on your product annually.
5. Grow on a timeline
Once you figure out the basics, give yourself a deadline. Noah uses the analogy of driving a car. You wouldn’t just start driving a car without a destination in mind. You need a specified amount of time to reach certain goals, so you can change direction if any one tactic isn’t working.
This is where strategy comes in. Noah says a lot of entrepreneurs come to him asking for help to start four different marketing channels. “Why don’t you just find one that works and make sure you maximize the hell out of it,” he says.To learn more about how you can start a business in a weekend, listen to Noah Kagan’s interview on Learn with Shopify.