The Zig/Zag Technique to finding an online business idea

Think about the average guy approaching the average woman at a bar. What does he say?

  • “Hi…do you come here a lot?”
  • “Hi, my name’s John…”
  • “Hi…what are you drinking?”

These seem like normal things to say, right?


When you’re the same as everyone else, you might as well not exist. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, a woman, a life coach, a stylist, an analytics guru, or a language tutor. Whether you’re trying to get a date or start an online business, if you’re the same as everyone, you’re doomed.

No matter how beautiful your website is. No matter how exceptional your guarantee is. No matter how much you care.

This is where the concept of ZIGGING and ZAGGING comes in.

Where others zig, you zag.

When done correctly, you instantly stand out, selecting the right audience, while the wrong audience fades away.

Let me show you a zig/zag example. Remember when I used to write exclusively about “personal finance” on my site?

EVERYONE ZIGS: Keep a budget! Say no to lattes! Cut back on everything and save until you’re 60.

RAMIT ZAGS: Um, no. None of you so-called experts understand human psychology. Focus on the Big Wins, automate your money (because nobody really wants to be a financial expert), and earn enough to spend, guilt-free, on whatever you want. And tell jokes about twins, my mom, etc.

Do you see what happened?

A ton of frugalistas hated me and wrote about how I was entitled, privileged, and an asshole. Most of their blogs are gone now.

But the people who mattered stuck around. These are the people who said, “Hey, wait a minute. That makes sense. I don’t want to live like a pauper. I want to go out with my friends and buy a round of drinks. I’m willing to put in the work — but show me what to do!”

A movement was born. And a highly profitable business, too.

YOU CAN DO THE SAME. When they zig, you zag.

Why I’m sharing the “Zig/Zag” concept with you now

Have you noticed how excited people are to finally hear me talking about creating an online business? I could open Zero to Launch tomorrow and a ton of people would join.

But I’m in the enviable position of not needing to make a quick buck — which means I can take my time showing you the nuances of how powerful an online business can be before I ever open a premium course.

Put another way, you don’t just need more information. THE INFORMATION IS OUT THERE! So why haven’t you already started a successful online business? Today, I’m going to make you APPLY it.

Today, I’m going to show you just ONE part of this zig/zag process.

Think back to the last time you saw an expert trying to sell something online– maybe it was a personal trainer, or a life coach, or even a productivity app. Do you notice how 99% of these websites are EXACTLY THE SAME?

These me-too promise to help you find “your inner self” or to “lose that stubborn weight.” Easy, fast, secure! And yet you’re wondering…how are you any different than the 5,000 other options out there?

Here’s the first step to differentiating yourself: Deeply understand the language of your market.

Notice how I never talk about “compound-interest charts” or “amortization schedules” or even “keeping a budget”? BECAUSE NOBODY CARES!

When you can understand people’s real language, you can connect authentically, instead of marketing AT them. It’s the difference between being a salesman and being a true trusted advisor.

Today’s exercise: Mastering your market’s language

Last week, I asked you to do a blue-sky brainstorm of 3 ideas you would love to create an online business around. You came up with some amazing ideas.

Now, I’d like you to go one step further and gently “test” your idea. (By the way, don’t worry if your idea is half-formed, or if you don’t even have an idea for your online business. I’ll show you how to do this, step by step, in the Zero to Launch course.)

An idea in a vacuum is delusion. But when you test it against the market, your idea may slowly reveal itself to be a PROFITABLE IDEA.

Here’s what I want you to do (20 minutes):

  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 remotely close to the idea, 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.

Share your results in the comments below.

Remember, your post should contain…

– Original idea:

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):

– What you THOUGHT they would say:

– What they ACTUALLY said:

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

99% of people who want to start an online business don’t even take this step. But Zero to Launch students know that if they put the work in ahead of time, their business is “virtually guaranteed” to work — and you can make 10x+ what others do.

* * * * *

P.S. Do you realize this entire post is zagging while everyone else zigs?

Zig/Zag #1: So many other people will simply shove information down your throat like a filthy Hometown Buffet meal. You don’t need more information — you need to apply it. Even taking 20 minutes sets you apart from the wantrepreneurs who talk about starting a business over and over…and never actually do anything.

Zig/Zag #2: Incidentally, last week, I had thousands and thousands of comments. People are literally emailing me, “Take my money!” And I could. But instead of maximizing short-term profit, I’m walking you through the nuances of online business over three weeks of free material. Do you see why? Short term, I lose out on profits. But long term, I’m actually showing you how to create an online business — how to find an idea, how to package it, price it, and market it — so you see that it’s possible if you follow a step-by-step system.

Zig/Zag #3: I gave a free presentation on never-before-revealed mistakes I made in creating my online business. Who else do you know who does this? Now, you can join my Zero to Launch private list — free — for case studies and your spot on the waitlist.)

Don’t Forget — Complete today’s exercise and share your results in the comments below. I’ll be reviewing all of the responses.

UPDATE — New Zero to Launch course reviews!

Check this out, several Zero to Launch beta students have posted detailed reviews of the Zero to Launch course on their own blogs. You can hear all about their experiences — including pros and cons, and who the course is right for — in their own words. I’ll keep updating this list as more reviews come out:

I’ve collected more Zero to Launch reviews, direct from students here. Check them out.

Want to learn more about Zero to Launch and get instant access to more case studies? Just join the Zero to Launch waitlist (takes 20 seconds).

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