The perfect side business?

My good blogging friend, Kevin, mounts a good case for – naturally – taking on blogging as a side business.

Because I don’t monetize my blog at all, nor do I expend any effort on promoting it or driving traffic to it, I can’t really comment.

But, I can say that for my audience it’s probably not the right type of business for you.

Well, let’s backtrack a little; as I once said: “you can’t save your way to wealth“!

So, the only reason for starting a side business is so that you can build up an investing war-chest to use elsewhere.

[AJC: another perfectly valid reason might be so that you can grow it to one day replace your day job. Another reason might be to gain experience in business. All valid reasons, but not directly in the context of getting you to $7m7y]

If you do that, then you’re essentially beefing up your Pay It Twice strategy, so I have little more to add here.

But, if you do want to reach $7m7y (or some other large number / soon date), then I do have the perfect side-business for you:

If you are a programmer, go find a friend with some online marketing experience (here’s where a blogger can come in real handy!) … if you’re a fellow blogger, go find a great programmer who also likes to burn the midnight oil.

Then go and build your own startup!

If you come up with a cool idea aimed at small businesses or the self-employed, then you can build up a neat revenue stream and end up with something quite salable.

Just like the guy/s at Freckle (an online time accounting tool) who took their site from $1k/mth revenue to $20k/mth in just two years.

Firstly: SaaS (Software as a service, which just means tools that run online without needing to download software) companies typically operate on high gross margins (70% – 90%) and ‘in the cloud’ (which means that they don’t need to run or maintain their own hardware or operating systems) using ‘open source’ software (which usually means they’re free).

This means the owners make good income, with few (if any) fixed overheads, be it full-time or part-time.

Secondly: Unlike blogs, eBay businesses and many other types of online/offline ‘side businesses’, these types of internet businesses can scale; that means the sky’s the limit as to how much income they can generate.

Thirdly: They can be financed (by angel investors and, later, venture capitalists) for expansion.

Lastly: They can be sold … for a lot!

Just ask the guys who are financing Airbnb (started by just three regular guys) or Groupon what they think those businesses are worth 😉

[AJC: actually, these are not examples of SaaS businesses, but they also generate revenue, so there’s nothing wrong with going down that path, either, but you really need to be lucky to find the right ‘slam dunk’ niche]

Now, you may not be as successful as any of these guys …

… but, I submit to you, that you are just as likely to be successful in a true / salable online business as you are in any other kind of part-time business (including blogging) and that it takes just as much work.

So, why wouldn’t you try the one that has a chance of getting you to your – shall we say, audacious – financial goal?

Anatomy Of A Startup – Part VII

Would you like to see more posts (like this one) about startups?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Please let me know (in the comments) if my slightly off-topic forays into the world of internet-startups are interesting, boring … or, somewhere in between.

If you’re still not sure, read today’s post then answer the poll 🙂

I’m sure that many people are put off the idea of starting a business – any business, not just a web-business – by the perceived failure rates: the ‘urban myth’ is that 9 out of 10 businesses fail in their first five years, so I wouldn’t blame you for simply dismissing the idea of becoming an entrepreneur!

For you, though, the chance of failure is 50/50: either you will fail … or you won’t.

Statistics (i.e. what happens to OTHER small business owners) mean nothing to you … but, your personal success or failure means everything.

Even if you subscribe to the statistics more than my philosophical view, we can still agree because the real numbers are much closer to 50/50 than 90/10 [click on the image to enlarge]:

[Source: Amy Knaup, Monthly Labor Review]

The chart shows that the four year survival rate for small businesses across the USA is anywhere from nearly 40% to nearly 60%. While not quite 5 years, and not quite 50/50 (you can reduce these 4 year survival rates by approx. 10% for each succeeding year), it’s certainly not as glum an outlook as the 90% failure rate that the popular press would have you believe.

So, how would you like a surefire way to tell IN ADVANCE if your Internet-business has an 85% chance of surviving, with an additional 9% chance of being sold for millions of dollars, and with a ‘booby prize’ of at least a 75% chance of achieving a huge amount of additional funding (an average of $500k)?

Fortunately, for the Internet entrepreneur there is a super-reliable way of doing this:

Simply apply to join one of the respected Venture Accelerators springing up all over the world!

If you DO manage to make your way through their selection process, here’s what you can expect in terms of survival/success after 4 years:

[Source: Techstars]

Time to dust off that business plan?

Reader Question: How can I start a small business with no capital?

I guess some of my readers appreciate small / online business advice as well as personal finance advice, so I’ll keep the mix going for a little while longer.

On that note, let’s take a look at Jeff’s question; it’s a very common one, indeed:

I have always wanted to run my own business, and I know what business it is. I have planned out all the details, even got as far as making the business plan for startup, short term and long term. But i keep becoming discouraged at the idea when I hit the same wall every time. Which is startup capitol. Do you have any suggestions as to where or how someone who is smart and determined, but has virtually no personal capitol, can get the means to start a small business?

I don’t have enough (any) information on Jeff’s personal financial situation to make any specific recommendations. However, since this is such a common reader question, let me try and answer it for everybody in this situation.

Startup capital almost always comes from the Four F’s:

– Founders – What does your personal ‘balance sheet’ look like? Do you own a house, car, etc. Many a business has been started by refinancing existing assets, borrowing money on credit-cards, and so on. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

– Friends/Family – These two groups will invest small amounts – from $100 to $10,000 each. Pull a few together and you may get enough. Usually, they are investing in YOU, so financial results are less important to them. But, if you have a business plan that reads well, and you have a wide circle, you’re ready to start asking!

– Fools – These are seed-stage investors who MAY invest in an idea, but they are VERY hard to come by. You probably need more than one cofounder (one-man businesses are usually seen as too one-sided), and you will need to demonstrate a business with good upside.

Putting together business plans is one giant step forward for Jeff.

But, now he finally needs to decide if he’s going to drop it, or go for it. Only Jeff can make that decision 🙂

Anatomy Of A Startup – Part VI

If you’re a Dave Ramsey Fan, welcome!

But, you probably won’t stick around … no Baby Steps here, just Giant Leaps in (mainly) personal finance and (sometimes) business from a genuine mult-millionaire (that would be me!) who went from $30,000 in debt to $7 million in the bank, in just 7 years … no BS 🙂

We don’t pay off our mortgages early, here. We don’t debt snowball. And, we don’t save until we bleed (but, we do practice delayed gratification).

We DO find our Life’s Purpose, use that find our Number, and do any one of a hundred things to get there, If you do choose to stick around (unlikely, I know) … enjoy! And, feel free to drop me a line to tell me what you think [ajc AT 7million7years DOT com] …


We’ve done a little bit of FaceBook advertising while we are waiting for the ‘better’ landing page to appear, with mixed results.

What is clear, is that advertising is a great way to test your New Product Idea, but a very expensive way to acquire customers; which is OK, as right now, we are testing various strategies.

One of the things that we learned is that keywording on your more established competitors names is A GOOD THING … for us 😉

One of the other things that we have learned is that the key technical feature of our site may be a lower takeup than we expected, which is why the ‘pivot’ was invented:

Basically, a pivot is a fancy New Age Term for “doing less of what doesn’t seem to work, and doing more of what does”. Also known as: common-sense.

So, right now, we have a nice, new design idea that could be disruptive in its own right.

We will launch with this …

But, that means that I have to change the Executive Summary:

Click to download the  Executive Overview <<<<==== CLICK HERE

The Executive Overview is the two or three page document that outlines what your business is all about:

– What problem you are solving,

– How you are solving it,

– What your ‘secret sauce’ is,

– Who your competitors are,

– Your business plan (how you intend to make money),

– Your marketing plan (how you intend to acquire customers)

– Your implementation plan.

This document – with various sections added or removed can be given to partners, key staff, investors, and bankers.

Oh, and don’t forget that it begins with your USP.

PS Obviously, the documents that I am sharing are NOT for my current venture. Sorry. 😉

Reader Question: What to do with my patents?

Since nobody complained, here’s a great question regarding patents from an IMHO genuine and Certified Smart Guy, Erik, who took the trouble to e-mail me with this question regarding patents and how best to commercialize them:

I am writing you because I have ideas, but, do not know how to turn them into a business.

While at my university, I have been busy developing ideas and protecting these ideas with patents. I currently have 3 patent applications and am currently working on 2 more with a patent attorney. These are all through the university, so they do own 50% of rights to the patent, but at the same time, they are shouldering 100% of the costs. At this point in my life, that seems like a pretty good deal to me. Later when I have more money to invest, I can use any profit generated from these patents to own 100% of the rights to my work.

The problem is that I don’t really know how to move from owning a patent to creating a business to enable the idea and generate profit?

Erik  is talking about transitioning from idea to business.

Firstly, I would propose that ideas (and, their patents thereof) belong in the receptacle offered by the device in the carefully selected image, above …

… it’s all about execution. And, as we know; that’s 99% perspiration 😉

Given that, it seems Erik has quite a few paths available, to take Useless Idea # n to Highly Profitable Business # 1 […  and only. Because lighting rarely strikes twice yadayadayada], but I think I can summarize them into just two:

1. Become an idea/licensing machine: churn them out, begin the patent process, licence off … next idea!

2. Pick the idea that Erik feels has the most commercial promise, fail fast (which means assess the market quickly by trying to get sales and feedback … even before the product is ready), continue with that idea OR shelve and move onto the next.

And, this series:

Having never done 1., I can’t advise Erik (that may be where you step in?)  …

However, if Erik is contemplating going down the  second path, he should pick the easiest patents, first … preferably something that can be implemented (at least at first) as software … using open-source architectures wherever possible and ‘”off the shelf” programmers (i.e. no PHD’s to develop, unless that’s going to be Erik).

In terms of resources, Erik should follow interesting threads on … he’ll learn a lot, from experts (unfortunately, he’ll first have to learn how to discern ‘expert’ from ‘wanna be’).

He should also buy a copy of  TechStar Founder, Brad Feld’s excellent book about startups: Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup, and Guy Kawasaki’s outstanding book: The Art Of The Start.

Once he has launched and has gained traction (i.e. significant customers and sales; not necessarily profitable sales … yet), Erik can start working on building his back-end ‘business’ … in which case, he should also read Michael Gerber’s business classic – mandatory for established businesses of ANY size: The E-Myth Revisited.

Until then, Erik should focus totally on Product (what do the customers want?) and Sales (will they buy?) …

He can start testing/asking/even selling RIGHT NOW.

Oh, and if Erik has the opportunity to take a job, but start this part-time … he should do so!

That way he’ll be able to afford to fail often 😉

Anatomy Of A Startup – Part V

I’m not sure if this is a useful series for my audience; on the other hand, I do encourage as many of you to start a part-time business as possible – with the Internet being an ideal platform – so it should be useful.

But, do let me know if you want to see more/less of this business-type of stuff on this personal finance blog …

There’s been a lot of Internet chatter about so-called ‘lean startups’: as far as I can see, it used to be called “bootstrapping” (Guy Kawasaki, the legendary Apple early employee, angel investor, startup junkie, and raconteur famously started Truemors for a little over $12k), but should just be called ‘common sense’.

Having said that, I’ve committed $100k to my latest startup, which is currently being spent on partial salary replacement for one guy (apparently, he doesn’t like eating dog food), a padded cell (one small, windowless room, 4 desks, 3 people …. plenty of stale air), and a little bit of web-type outsourcing:

– We purchased a logo on hatchwise for $250

– We purchased a home page image for $19 and spent another $36 on oDesk for two guys in India to turn it into a real web page with KISSinsights ($29/mth), and MailChimp (one of the guys already has an account) integration. $6 an hour buys an awful lot of basic code-cutting.

– We’ve also spent $1,200 locally getting a real home page built, with plenty of back-end functionality [AJC: we need a few different types of home pages for some of the stuff we’re doing, all at different levels of complexity]; but, we’re doing that with the engineer that we want working with us, and this is a sort of ‘feel each other out first’ kind of project.

The other key part of Lean Startup / Bootstrapping / Common Sense is simply getting something out there real quick to test the market response. This is called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) …

This should be taken to mean:

Get a landing page up now!

Fortunately, that’s really easy with the abundance of new tools and services that have been coming onto the market recently (including unbounce, and launchrock).

This is an example of one built using launchrock [AJC: no, it’s not mine … just some random one that I found; click on the image to get to the site, anyway]:

It’s probably not the best example of one that I’ve seen (why would you want to put down your name just to jump “square to square”?), and I’m betting that it’s a mobile app (think local) because the URL is …. but, that’s only a guess and it’s not really important.

What is important is to go ahead and sign up and see how launchrock gives you a share page, complete with a customized URL so that you can track which user has invited whom … and, you can incent them accordingly! famously did this with the incentive of getting to the top of their beta-invite list e.g. “after 3 people sign up with your link, you make our “priority access list” and we let you know via email.”

The reason WE’RE putting up prelaunch home pages (as they are known) is so that we can test keywords to see (a) if we can drive traffic to our site (and our value proposition), if so (b) which keywords work best.

This is how to implement the strategy outlined in this post where I shared some great advice from my good online friend Brandon – it’s simplicity in itself … here’s what Brandon says:

Let me sum this up in one sentence:
As a startup or new business, the amount of time you spend writing up a sexy business plan to pitch investors would be better spent running a $500 PPC campaign testing your idea.

[NotePPC = Pay Per Click online advertising]

You are lucky enough to live in a world with Google Adwords.  This is a good thing.  The costs of launching a new business online are hastily reducing to zero.  Testing a business idea or even a half-baked, half-assed business-sorta idea, is easy.  So do it.

Stop thinking about writing a business plan (that you mostly copy of some web template – be honest), and start here:

1. Register a domain name.  Doesn’t have to be good.  Starting a bird feeder biz?  Get
2. Get hosting, install the CMS [e.g. WordPress or Blogger] of your choice.
3. Make 3-4 landing pages.  Ask questions.  Find out some key answers to the market you are hoping to serve with your genius new idea.  Offer to sell your service right now.
4. Setup [a Google] Adwords campaign and spend $500.
5. Read the answers you get.  Scour the analytics, the keywords and clicks.  Any sale or response is good.  Email your new ‘customers’ and find out more about them.

The point is, this is so easy and cheap to do, you should do it.  There’s no risk in doing so, and the upside is possibly priceless.

It could save you from wasting 9 months of your life chasing a bad idea.  It could teach you what people really want, not what you think they want.  It makes you get serious.

We’ve been experimenting right now with a FaceBook advertising (watch out Google!) campaign at $5 – $10 a day (!), and have already learned some interesting things for less than $50 total spend (!):

1. Targeting our competitors’ names in our keywords is a great way to reach our exact target market,

2. Paying CPM is usually better than CPC: worst case, we seem to pay roughly the same CPC that we would have paid had we been bidding CPC (about $1 to $2 per click for our keyword niche) and, occasionally, we even see massive spikes where our CPC mysteriously (and miraculously) drops to $0.01 on (comparatively) huge volume of clicks and signups.

… now, that’s good!


Anatomy Of A Startup – Part IV

If you caught my podcast (Jaime from Eventual Millionaire interviewed me here) then you will know that I am obsessed with business … after all, it’s how I made my second $7m7y!

My passion remains personal finance (which is how I made my first $7m7y): living, breathing, writing, teaching …

But, my hobby (lucrative or expensive, as fate and fortune may rule) is to work on startups; I am already ‘angel funding’ a few … this series is the story of one of them.

I eat my own dog food (actually, it’s cheap, and I kind of like the crunchiness): I just used this tool for my new startup. In fact, I use it for every startup that I have worked on … and, there have been quite a few:

If you’re buying or starting a business, the first thing you absolutely MUST be able to do is put your ‘reason for being’ into a sentence or two.

This is commonly called your ‘elevator pitch’ because you should be able to use it to tell a stranger what you do in between getting on and getting off an elevator!

But, it’s use is far more important than that … it’s to help you make sure that you really have something unique. If you don’t have anything unique in your offering, you will be struggling to sell it to your customers let alone to the people who will one day (you hope) want to buy your business!

For that reason, some call it your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), but whatever you call it, this tool will make it dead simple to come up with yours:

NoteI found this tool a long time ago, but can’t remember the source; if I could, I would share the link here. Until then, use it well. The example provided is from a real business that I looked at starting, and the USP is the real one that we came up with using this tool.

Click to download the Automatic-USP-Generator <<<<==== CLICK HERE

[click on the image to expand in new window]


1. Download the Automatic USP Generator and answer the questions in the right hand column as best you can.

2. Use those answers to “fill in the blanks” in the two sentences just below the question/answer box.

3. Rewrite in plain english – you may need to fiddle a little with both your answers and the sentences that you come up with to make them read well.

Remember: you are trying to come up with something unique!

This tool will take you 90% of the way there, the other 10% is iteration until somebody that you trust, but who knows nothing about your business concept, says “wow”.

Why don’t you share your elevator pitch – it can be for your business, your startup, or just for an idea you are working on – with our readers (in the comments section below)?

I’ll send the best one $100 by PayPal towards your own startup idea. No strings attached!

Anatomy Of A Startup – Part III

Now that the term sheet bartering (i.e. “how come you got more equity worth nothing than I did?!”) is out of the way, we moved on to (re)creating the business model; if you don’t know what a business model is, then this fantastic presentation should give you all the help that you need:

10 business models that rocked 2010 – by @nickdemey (

It may seem trivial, but just getting this down with the absolute minimum of lines, and icons (representing our features and benefits etc.) was very difficult but absolutely key. We changed our business model a number of times (esp. around how we charge for our services) through this exercise!
Hint: If you find a model here that’s fairly similar to what you have in mind, then modifying it is a great way to jump-start the process!
[AJC: we ended up choosing a model fairly similar to Groupon’s, although our startup has absolutely nothing – well, very little – to do with coupons and group buying … I’m guessing that every second VC pitch for the next couple of years will start with “Like Groupon, we” at which point the VC will quickly show them the door; a sure sign that copying Groupon’s business model is a VERY BAD IDEA … but, the general ‘shape’ – graphically – of their model seemed to fit our business concept]
If you want to give this a try, and I recommend it, start by downloading the free powerpoint template from the Board Of Innovation’s website here.

Anatomy Of A Startup – Part II

As I mentioned in my first post in this (occasional) series: “building a startup is one (highly risky) way of making $7 million in 7 years!”

My first B2B (business to business) startup was 100% offline (a.k.a. B&M a.k.a. ‘bricks and mortar); it funded my entire investment strategy – you have to get your cashflow from somewhere, right?

Even though it made barely more than a wage in terms of profits, I was able to scrimp, save, twist, and manipulate my way into an unbeatable combination of Business + Real-Estate to make my first $7 million in 7 years … even before I sold the business!

Nowadays, my twin passions come together in this post: writing about personal finance + working on startups.

I still own one fully b&m business (a finance company, established for nearly 20 years) and own 50% of another (a startup selling a unique product to cafes), but my ‘passion within a passion’ is actually web 2.0 (or, more trendily known these days as ‘social media’) startups.

And, I have just agreed terms with my two partners on my latest 100% online project (I found these guys by joining a meetup group online … kind of like meeting your future wife on!) .

The question that will obsess you most at this stage (it shouldn’t!) is “how much equity” did each partner get?

There’s many ways to cut-and-dice the pie:

The simplest is when two or three founders get together at a party and come up – in a flash of drunken inspiration (which is exactly how my LAST idea came to fruition) – with The Idea. Then they all do a handshake and a business is formed with each holding equal shares.

It only gets complicated – killing the business and the friendships – when one of the partners doesn’t pull their weight, or when one needs to go full-time to take the idea to the next stage, or …

The other way is to recognize different contributions at the outset:

– Who came up with the idea? Let’s say that I came up with the idea, and have begun the patent process (for whatever that’s worth).

– When did you come on board? Let’s say that I found you, and need you for a specific job (e.g. web-marketing).

– Who needs to draw a salary? Some partners will need SOME money to live … hopefully, nobody’s stupid enough to believe that this is a real, paying job (yet/ever).

– How many hours a week will each partner work? What about after launch?

– What are the basic milestones?

These are the real questions that we had to address in the past week or two, and here’s how we dealt with them [AJC: the real numbers are close to the following cooked up example]:

We agreed a NOMINAL dollar value for everything:

– The idea was given a nominal value of $200,000 (normally in the $100,000 to $200, 000) range

– It was agreed that each partner’s time pre-launch (and, to a specific point after: see milestones, below) would be worth an identical amount (we chose $100k each for the sake of simplicity; not to be confused with a real salary i.e. nobody will actually draw $100k in salary, at least not for quite a while!)

– We also agreed to keep an extra ‘salary’ for an extra partner that we would still need to find to plug a gap in our teams’ combined skill-set

– We also agreed to keep an extra few $ (initially, we wanted this to be $100,000 … we settled for less) as an extra incentive for PAID staff who may come on board in the future, but not as partners

– We also agree that we needed an ‘advisory board’ of 3 members, who would split about $35,000 in nominal ‘salary’ (remember: they will take this in % equity, not in cash!)

– We then agreed who was going to get paid in real $$$ before we actually make any money, and agreed that would be only one of the three founding partners who needed $40k to pay the bills at home! That was easily dealt with by taking down his starting position from $100k to $60k

– Finally, somebody needed to come up with some cash to start the company off (seed money); fortunately, asking me to reach into my pocket to offer $100,000 was a relatively easy decision for the group.

Now, realize that these are not real $$$ (except for the $40k salary for one of the partners and my very real $100k cash contribution) …. nobody is going to get paid $100,000! Nobody is going to give me $100,000 or $200,000 for the idea! I’m only going to put in the $100k as and when/needed!

These are NOTIONAL dollar amounts:

What we did next was to add all of these $$$$ together to come up with a single total, in this case just under $700,000.

Then it was a relatively easy matter to calculate everybody’s share of the equity e.g.:

– the founder who was not drawing a salary would receive $100,000 / $700,000 = 14% starting equity

– the founder who was drawing a $40k starting salary would receive ($100,000 – $40,000) / $700,000 = 9% starting equity

– The advisory board would split $35,000 / $700,000 = 5% (we would eventually offer 1.5% each and keep the rest as ‘spare equity’)

… and so on.

Note: whatever equity is left over (remember the ‘spare equity’ for the extra founder and for future staff incentives, plus any left over from rounding down as we did for the advisory board?) is actually owned by the founders in equal proportion to their starting equity. Equally, though, as future rounds of funding are taken on, the founders will be diluted in the same proportion.

Oh, but how do we know that we will actually work well as a team?

Simple: we didn’t hand out the equity all in one lump, we came up with a vesting arrangement tied to key business milestones.

Here’s what we came up with (each founder had exactly the same vesting arrangement, as did the advisory board, just to make sure that it didn’t cost us too much to get rid of any ‘lemons’ in our team); 20% of the offered equity would be released to each founder / advisory board member at each of the following milestones:

Milestone 1:   Project Commencement (date of incorporation of (working name))

Milestone 2:   Market launch of first functional web site

Milestone 3:   Receipt of first substantive revenues (>$5,000 in aggregate from time of startup)

Milestone 4:   Receipt of >$150,000 in aggregate revenue from time of startup

Milestone 5:   Receipt of >$500,000 in aggregate revenue from time of startup

This way, everybody needs to pull their own weight until the business is truly firing on all cylinders before they ‘earn’ their full allocation of equity.

The complication will come if additional outside funding is required before these milestones are reached. Then again, if all founding partners are still on board, everyone will be affected equally (well, in proportion).

Now, why did a say this equity discussion is not important?

There’s no equity if the business doesn’t get off the ground: your prime focus, at this stage, is to make sure that you have an idea that the market wants and that you have the skills to bring to the party … and, that’s all about commitment and execution (as well as a little luck)!

If you have a startup, leave a comment to share your experience with horse trading starting equity 🙂

Make money while you sleep?

Making money while you sleep … isn’t that everybody’s dream?

Erica, my favorite small-biz-whiz, shares her success with a business that makes her money not just when she’s sleeping, but also while she’s away:

You don’t need to stay home to work. Whoosh Traffic had its 1st $1000 day, hit $10K in total revenue, & became profitable while I was gone!

But, there’s a problem, the kind of business that lets you make money while you’re asleep / away is also the type of business that tends to produce small numbers. Take a look at Erica’s results: $1k a day in sales, $10k total revenue.

Now, we know that this isn’t Erica’s only income stream – and, even this one is new and growing – but, I’m sure that Erica will be the first one to tell you that there’s a (low) ceiling to the income that a business can grow that can truly “make money while you sleep”.

In fact, I wager that in aggregate, Erica’s “make money while you sleep” businesses actually keep her pretty busy … and, she has plans to be even busier.

You see, I am willing to bet London to a brick (whatever THAT may mean) that Erica has a Number [i.e. the amount of money that you need in order to begin life after work a.k.a. retirement] that is pretty big, but most “make money while you sleep” businesses won’t be enough to help her get there:

a) The income they produce may not be enough to build up the Number on their own, and

b) They have no – or insufficient – resale value.

Of course, there’s a third alternative: if the business makes money while you sleep, and that income is enough to pay the bills, why do you even need to reach your Number?

Simply because no business lasts for ever … and, do you want to bet your financial future in the face of ever-changing technology and market conditions that you will continue to find replacements?

My businesses made money while I slept or went away – on some days. But, whenever my cell-phone rang – wherever and whenever I was in the world – I HAD to answer it because the buck ultimately stopped with me … banks and ceo’s demanded it!

But, the advantages were:

1. The businesses eventually produced enough cash to fund both my ever-growing lifestyle AND my long-term retirement investment strategy i.e. I could buy enough investments that I reached my Number by my Date, without needing to sell my businesses,

2. Even if I hadn’t already invested externally, I could (and did) sell my businesses for more than enough to reach my Number before technology and/or market conditions could change to my detriment.

Two paths to reach my Number: invest and/or sell [AJC: I did both and advise you to do the same … never rely on being able to sell your business]

Price: restless sleep!

So, is there a place for ‘Erica Style’ businesses?


– You could build up a portfolio of those businesses; in doing so, you are making building these types of business your business! What?! That’s exactly what Erica is doing: she puts in 110% effort to build these types of businesses and to teach you how to do the same. I bet that she doesn’t have a ‘kick back on the sofa and let the business make money while I sleep’ attitude at all!

– More simply: you can build one or two of these types of businesses while you are sitting around at college, writing your blog, or working your ‘day job’, and use the EXTRA income that this business generates to fuel your investment strategy – or, build up the seed capital for that ‘real business’ …

… the one that WILL keep you up at night, until you sell 😉