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Start Here: “The Ultimate Guide to Making Money”

Enough excuses: Here’s how to FINALLY start your own business

Starting your own business is one of the most powerful ways to take control of your life and make extra money month after month. You can start with just a few hours a week. And best of all, you get to choose your hours, pick projects you find exciting, and meet interesting people.

You know this, yet haven’t started. Why? Excuses.

It’s totally normal. Each day my inbox is filled with people telling me why they haven’t started a business yet. And each day I offer solutions so they can adopt the mindsets and systems needed to reach their goals. That’s why we’re going to smash the common roadblocks and show you how to get past it all so you can get right to living a Rich Life.

How rich? One that lets you earn money while you travel, relax, or spend time with your family.

Sample revenue from a single day.

But this stuff doesn’t happen easily or quickly. So if a starting a business doesn’t sound like it’s for you, I’ve covered how to make more money elsewhere on this site. But here, I’m revealing the advanced strategies behind launching a successful business that gives you the freedom to share your skills with the world — and create something people will pay you for, even when you aren’t working.

Who am I? I’m New York Times bestselling author Ramit Sethi, and I’ve created more than 15 products that generate tens of millions of dollars a year. I’ve helped tens of thousands of students build businesses so profitable they can leave their full time job.
I started my own business with one product and grew IWT from there

You’ll learn the systems, strategies, and shortcuts I only dreamed of having when I started out… so you can launch faster and earn more.

(And a note, we exclusively cover how to start and grow an online business every day at our partner site, GrowthLab. Start here with our Ultimate Guide to Starting an Online Business)

And now, we tackle all the things that stop us from FINALLY starting our own business.

Excuse 1: I can’t start my own business, I have no money!

Candidly, if you’re struggling financially, I would not try to start a business first. I would get a good job, get financially stable, THEN try to create one. I have tons of free material around finding your dream job here — just use the free material for now.

Excuse 2: Running a business seems like a lot of work. I just want to sit with my laptop on a beach.

Whenever I ask my readers why they want to start a business, most of the answers focus on THEM.

“What excites ME.”

“MY terms.”

Rarely do I hear things like:

“I’m really good at helping my friends with their relationship problems. I don’t want to just help people 1-on-1… I want to help THOUSANDS of people.”

“I love helping people get in shape. I want to help as many people get fit as possible.”

“My friends are always coming to me for cooking advice — and I LOVE it. I want to share my delicious recipes with as many people as possible!”

Look, I get it — we all want to go into online businesses because it will give us flexibility, time to spend with family, more money, and a bunch of other great reasons…

…but those shouldn’t be the ONLY reasons. That can’t be where you start but it can be where you end.

If you really want all those things, you need learn to dig deep into what your customers really want and put their needs first. This takes work, and you need to be prepared to dedicate time EVERY week to make it happen.

Only by factoring your customers into your system can you turn your dream or passion into a real business that’ll make you money.

Excuse 3: My boss/spouse/friends won’t let me start a business.

It’s not up to them to approve of your idea or let you know whether starting a business is right for you. Only YOU can do that. This is very different from what we were taught as kids. Starting in kindergarten, we had to raise our hand. “Mrs. Kundle, can I go to the bathroom?” “Yeah, you can go to the bathroom, Timmy.”

We had to get permission for everything we did.

At a certain point though — and this is scary — there is no one to ask permission from.

It’s your decision.

And when you’re running your own business there is often no one to ask, no guide to consult, no manual to read. It’s all on you. So get used to it!

Excuse 4: I’m having trouble finding an idea.

We’ve interviewed thousands of people and the number one barrier to starting a business is “I don’t have an idea.” On GrowthLab, we have an entire series of articles dedicated to this problem.

But not all ideas were created equal. That’s why my team and I use a process we call “Idea Mapping.” It’s a process for surfacing what we call your “X-Men Abilities” where you can offer unique value.

First, ask yourself these four questions when idea mapping.

  1. What do your friends complain about that you find effortless?
  2. What do your friends say you’re great at?
  3. What do your friends say when they introduce you?
  4. What would you do if you had 3 hours free every week?

Also, remember one thing.

When you are coming up with business ideas, silence the inner critic that says you can’t teach something unless you are credentialed or the world’s greatest expert on the subject. All you have to be is good enough to help people achieve their goals.

Then, I want you to do the following 3 steps:

1. Find 1 person — JUST ONE! — who might be interested in your idea. You can do this via email or in person. If you’re not sure, ask ANYONE that’s close to you, even your parents. We’re not aiming for perfection right now, just people.

2. “Test” for language using this script: “I’m thinking of starting some kind of website around [YOUR IDEA]. When you talk to your friends about it, what do you say? What’s the biggest problem around [YOUR IDEA]?”

3. Write down the exact language they use. Did they really say, “I want a solution that’s easy, fast, and secure?” No, they did not. WRITE DOWN WHAT THEY ACTUALLY SAY. “I hate how these jeans look on me” is a terrific response. “Every day I wake up, I just dread going to work” is another.

Want to see a live example of idea mapping? Here I do it live on stage in front of hundreds of people:

Still stuck? Sign up here to get a list of 30 business ideas.

Excuse 5: I’m so overwhelmed by all the options. What kind of online business should I start?

Calm down, killer. I’ve studied thousands of online businesses and there are only SIX viable options.

  1. Software (including apps)
  2. Physical products
  3. Advertising
  4. Affiliate marketing
  5. Coaching
  6. Online courses

But not all businesses are created equal. You want the right mix of PROFIT and COST.

As you can guess, I’m a fan of online courses and coaching.

Excuse 6: I’m not sure my idea is any good.

If you ask people about an idea they will all say “YEAH! THAT SOUNDS GREAT!” And then they don’t buy. Get past this base level of feedback. To figure out if your idea has legs it helps to plot it on a demand matrix like the one below:


This is a very simple way of taking your ideas and figuring out what is worth your time. As you can tell, you want ideas in the “Golden Goose” quadrant, one where there are lots of potential customers and a high price. Plotting your ideas on this matrix help you to not fall in love with your first idea, something we call “idea one-itis.”

But most importantly, it helps you start to contextualize your ideas by how they will play in the real world. Not how you HOPE they will work out or not by what you’re the most excited about — but by what has the best chance of working.

As an example here are some IWT products and where they stack up.



Clockwise from top left: 6-Figure Consulting, Find Your Dream Job, my bestselling book,
and our shelved healthcare product.

Excuse 7: Business cards, bank accounts, sales pages… I have no idea where to start!

Stop worrying about stuff that doesn’t matter. So many people think PASSION is the key to business success. That if you just care enough the rest will take care of itself. First, any successful person that says this doesn’t take into account the PASSIONATE people that failed. Second, passion is just where we need to start. To truly succeed in business we need SYSTEMS. Three, specifically:

  1. A system for getting people’s attention
  2. A system for getting them to subscribe to your email list
  3. A system for selling them your product

That’s it. All of the tools, emails, and business cards mean nothing if you can’t hone these basics. For details on how to build those systems, I wrote an entire post.

Excuse 8: But what if I don’t live in a city / didn’t go to college / have long hair / am a special snowflake / blah blah blah.

Tell me if this has ever happened to you: You hear about some super successful friend or famous person and you immediately tell yourself that they had some special advantage that let them be successful.

This is “The Shrug Effect,” or a way for us to shrug and say, “Well, maybe that works for HIM, but not me.”

We do this all the time. We see a famous CEO and point out how “he took 5 companies public and got a Harvard MBA.” We see a successful children’s book author and point out how “she already knew 4 publishers, so her book got published immediately.”

But that’s simplistic, and it’s an excuse to stay in your current state and do nothing differently. Instead of thinking of the reason they succeeded, ask what you can do TODAY to get closer to your goal. The fact that a famous entrepreneur went to Harvard has NOTHING to do with you finding your first customer or testing your first idea.

Excuse 9: But what if I fail?

The last excuse is the MOST important one. So many of us SAY we want to “take risks” and “start a business” for YEARS but never act. Why? We’re afraid of failing. Which really means we we’re afraid at what people will think of us for failing.

The most successful people I know have the most failures. Because they take the most chances. To get in the right mindset, let me tell you about the time we shelved a course we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on.

It’s not IF you will fail. It’s WHEN and what you do about it. The faster you can accept this paradigm the faster you can get over excuses like these and onto FINALLY starting your own business.

Ready to buckle up and get started? Read or download a free copy of my Ultimate Guide to Starting an Online Business. It drills down into the exact steps necessary to get your business going.