Living to 100 …

First of all, let me tell you that living to 100 is not a blessing.

My grandmother just passed away. She made it to 12 days past 100 years.

In fact, the 100 was like the finishing line to a marathon for her; in Australia, you get a letter from the Queen.

She also got a letter from the Prime Minister, the Governor General, and her local member of parliament …

… and, a little party at the old people’s home where she resided, complete with party hats and balloons. Hurrah!

My Grandmother lead almost the whole family unscathed through the holocaust (she ‘only’ lost one brother, where most others lost their entire families) and emmigrated to Australia almost penniless where she (and, my grandfather … but, mainly she) did what most immigrants do: work hard, invest wisely, and slowly rebuild their fortunes.

She may not have made $7 million in 7 years, but she certainly made that much in 30 or 40 years, starting with nothing. I can’t see why anybody would settle for $1 million after a lifetime of work?

So, what have I learned from my grandmother’s experiences?

1. Living to 100 is not all it’s cracked up to be.

My grandmother’s brain was amazing, right up to the end.

When she got her letters, she immediately recalled our Prime Minister’s name as being Julia Gillard.  And, just a few weeks before her 100th, she was still doing mental arithmetic (“if you were only 85, how much longer to 100? I asked. Within a couple of seconds, my grannie answered “15 years”).

But, her body was not so good: the legs went first, then the teeth, and so on … she often told me that living to 100 is not all that great.

2. If you lose it all, get up and do it all over again.

My grandmother lived like a queen before World War II. He husband (my grandfather) was a banker in the small town in Poland where they lived. They also owned the local movie theater. My granny hadn’t worked a day in her life and had maids and servants. My grandfather never drove a car (he could afford a driver).

The war, and the Nazis, changed all of that. Coming to Australia destitute, my grandmother decided to start a business making neckties. Not only did she not have any money with which to start a business, she had never sewed a necktie in her life.

Instead, she took a job at a tie factory to try and learn how it was done and (after convincing the owner that she could, in fact, sew ties) she convinced a couple of the seamstresses there to make some sample ties for her after hours. Using those samples, my granny went door to door (shop to shop) signing orders for those ties.

3. Don’t ever convince yourself that you can’t ‘cold call’

If my grandmother – who had never worked a day in her life before and was a female at a time when all salesmen were … well … men – managed to do it, then so can me or you!

Once she had enough orders, she paid those same seamstresses a ‘per tie’ rate (it’s called “piece work”) to fill the orders. She then delivered the ties and used the money earned to start the process all over again …

… eventually, she had been through this cycle enough times to open a small factory and hire those “piece workers” away from their other factory job, and they stayed with her until my granny retired (she gave the business to her loyal staff).

4. Invest today so that you can live tomorrow.

Most people would take the money that they are earning from their businesses and start paying themselves a decent salary. My Grandmother wasn’t most people: instead, she would invest the profits from their business into real-estate.

Contrary to popular belief, most business people don’t become rich from their businesses (remember, my granny simply gave hers away); they become rich from the investments that they make using their business’ income.

My grandmother was no exception: she bought real-estate.

Not only did she buy real-estate, she also developed her own down-town property. To give you an idea what that may be worth, when he was 93 – and, living in the old people’s home – my grandmother sold another down-town property on behalf of her 3 other partners who were all as old as her.

The realtor told her that the property was worth $11 million. She said “rubbish” and managed to hold out for a better offer, which eventually came in at $18 million. Not bad for a half-deaf, bed-ridden 93 year old.

The corollary to this is something that I learned from my grandfather (but was relayed to me by my grandmother after he passed away many years ago): at one stage, my grandmother felt that they could finally afford to buy a house. My grandfather said: “You can always buy a house from a business. But, you can never buy a business from a house”.

All in all, the value of the life lessons that I learned from my grandmother were immeasurable … but, the business lessons that I learned from her shaped who I am as an investor, and an entrepreneur.

No doubt, I wouldn’t have made $7 million in 7 years without them, and I can finally share the ultimate source of my inspiration here with you.

The myth of consulting …

My wife is always trying to get me to do some consulting, but I just can’t see the point.

I used to do a bit of consulting, but I saw it as a capital-friendly business development opportunity:

Rather than pay to fly out to talk to people about my regular products or services, I repackaged my bus. dev. [read: sales] activities as a paid consulting gig (at the very least, business-class international travel and accomodation paid for).

It worked quite well and was quite nice while it lasted.

Now, my wife sees consulting as a way to get a paid holiday every now and then …

… but, I see it largely as a waste of time.

I also see it as largely a waste of time for those who aspire to consult as their major source of income:

I feel that the biggest mistake that aspiring consultants make (particularly those setting up as an independent consultant/speaker) is to OVER-ESTIMATE their earning potential.

I once posted about a friend of mine, having sold out of his own business, who decided to become a consultant to his particular industry … his earning expectation is $200k for his second year in the business.

I told him “it won’t happen” …


You have to apply the ‘smell test’ to these sorts of expectations … wouldn’t EVERYBODY leave their $100k a year jobs if you could suddenly earn twice as much as a consultant?

… and, what about ‘lost time’ for marketing yourself, vacations, illness, accounting and business admin.?

Clearly, you have to build up to this (find a unique niche, build a reputation, etc. etc.) and that takes time … a lot of it.

For example, a top sales consultant in Australia recently said that he still spends at least two to three days a week in sales i.e. drumming up new business. Let’s assume that that time includes all of his admin., as well.

That means that he is spending a maximum of 2.5 days per week billing clients for face-to-face time less any unbooked time, travel time, research time, report-writing time, etc., etc.

You may be able to earn $1k+ per day, but I doubt that you can keep that up for 220 working days per year …

You do the math!

How to buy a business with No-Money Down

You’ve heard of ‘no money down’ deals for buying real-estate, but you probably have never done one yourself. But, did you know that it’s much easier – and, more profitable – to do ‘no money down’ deals in business?

[Originally published on Biznik, the small business online network]

You’ve seen the late night infomercials on cable: “buy my course for only $149 (plus S&H) and learn the secrets of how to buy 52 properties this year with NO MONEY DOWN”.

Naturally, you’re sceptical – and, so you should be because ‘no money down’ deals on real-estate are far more rare than the infomercials would lead you to believe [AJC: post-financial crisis, now almost impossible] … and, some of the ways that they are done are ‘on the edge’ of ethical business practices to say the least.

That’s why I have purchased a lot of real-estate over the years, but have NEVER done a ‘no money deal’.

But, did you know that it is possible to do ‘no money down’ deals on businesses? And, not only are these deals ethical, but they can be win/win for everybody involved?

And, they can be so easy to put together that my 13 year old son [AJC: this was a few years ago, now] put  one of them together for himself!

1. Let me start with my son’s example, as it is a good illustration of how simple the process can be:

My son started a small e-Bay business, but he didn’t have the capital to meet the minimum order requirement of $100 from his online wholesale supplier.

So, he asked me to put up half the capital for that first order for him: $50. In return, he offered me 45% share in the business, which I accepted.

He made that order and sold the stock within one month and promptly bought me back out!

[AJC: he handed $50 back to me and said he wanted his 45% back; I didn’t have the heart to say “son, it doesn’t quite work like that …”]

Not quite ‘no money down’ … but, close.

Now his e-Bay business nets him a cool $30 a week (not bad for a kid who only gets $26 a month in Allowance)

[AJC: Now I’m extra sorry I handed back my equity for $50, because his latest online/part-time business – he’s still at high school – makes him $150k a year]

2. I had the opportunity to take over a defunct family business: it was a finance company that needed both working capital and bank funding (a lot of it!) to run.

Unfortunately, at the time, I had neither the capital nor the access to bank funding … in fact, I was $30k in debt. But, I did have a customer list.

So, I used the same ‘no money down’ technique that my son used: I found an investor (who happened to be a competitor, often the best place to go for help) who put up the 25% capital that the business required to get started.

I then found a bank willing to finance the remaining 75% simply secured against the ‘paper assets’ of the business.

If you think about it, this is very similar to a ‘no money down’ deal on a property: find a partner willing to put up the deposit money in return for, say, a 50% share of the future profits, and a bank to lend you the balance as a mortgage over the property.

If the business is growing, my advice is to buy your partner out as soon as you can afford to … that’s what I did: we parted good friends. Make sure you always do the same.

3. Another way to do a ‘no money down’ deal for a business is where you have an asset that a larger company needs for their own business (preferably a non-profitable division of a larger company … believe me, there are plenty out there).

Most people are happy to sell this ‘asset’ to the larger company, or perhaps consult to them, for a fixed fee. Instead, consider ‘trading’ what you have for equity. Here’s how I did it:

I had some software that I used in my business that made our operation quite profitable; I found a Fortune 500 company that had a division operating in the same niche, but in another non-competing location, and discovered that they were still operating on older technology, hence, were unprofitable.

They offered to buy my software and consulting to help turn their own business unit around. However, we instead proposed a joint venture. For the ‘price’ of the software and our expertise, we received a majority share in that business unit. No money down!

It only took us two years to make the business profitable (using our software) and, we on-sold our share soon after for a huge return. We made about 7 times more profit by trading assets for equity than a simple software sale would have provided.

4. These are the types of ‘no money down’ deals that you should be looking for if you want to get into business or if you want to expand your existing business. But, there is an even simpler way:

If you want to buy an existing retail business with an existing lease … no matter what the asking price: ALWAYS start by offering No Money Down. Simply offer to take over their lease.

Many times that will be enough to do the deal … people need to sell their businesses for many reasons (marriage, divorce, moving) and are tied to their leases. By offering to take over their lease, you are removing a major headache for them … no money down!

Now that you have seen how easy it is – and, how lucrative it can be – to buy any type of business with No Money Down, maybe you will give it a try?

If you already have, please let me know your experiences …

How to manage your life with just $19 Billion …

After the recent Facebook float, how did Mark Zuckerberg fare, and – more to the point – how is he going to live?

According to the online business media:

The founder sold 30.2 million shares out of his entire holding, leaving him with a $US1.1 billion payout. It’s a huge amount of money, even after taxes, but it doesn’t come close to his final stake, somewhere in the region of $US19 billion.

So, the answer to the “how is he going to live?” question is: very well, thankyou!

Instead, let’s take a look at a hypothetical Internet business owner whose company IPO’d for mere millions in value, instead of Zuckerberg’s billions:

Let’s say that our hypothetical founder sold 30.2 million shares out of his entire holding, leaving him with a $US1.1 million payout. It’s a lot of money (let’s pretend that it’s after taxes), but it doesn’t come close to his remaining stake in his company, somewhere in the region of $US19 million.

How is our founder to live?

It would be tempting to say that he has $20 million, so a typical ‘safe withdrawal rate’ of 4% [AJC: which could be achieved through a combination of dividends and selling down small amounts of stock each year] would suggest that he has a massive $800k disposable income each year.

But, spending anywhere near $800k – even spending anything more than 25% of this amount p.a. – would be a huge mistake.

You see, the bulk of his money is in stock … and, risky stock at that: 5% of his net worth in cash and 95% in one relatively small, ‘hi tech’ company …

… and, we know what happens in tech: it can be boom/bust [AJC: remember MySpace, anyone?].

This is no different to an athlete trading off his contract, and spending money like it’s forever … except when it isn’t, which is why 78% of NFL players and 60% of NBA players are bankrupt within two years of leaving the game.

The second – less aggressive – temptation, then, would be to live off the dividends from the stock held …

…. let’s say that the company pays 2% dividends [AJC: which would not be unusual for a tech. company seeking to reinvest in itself, or acquire other companies, even though many – such as Apple – would pay zero dividends], which would deliver $400k per year.

But, again, what happens if the company stops paying dividends?

Instead, what our founder needs to do is realize that he is merely potentially very rich, but right now is a very valuable employee (and, controlling shareholder) of a company that is rewarding him with (a lot of) stock that may – or may not – one day convert to cash.

So, what our founder needs to do is count his blessings … I mean, assets:

1. He probably has a very healthy $400k+ annual salary, he should live off no more than 50% of this (indexed for inflation) and invest the rest.

2. He probably receives $400k in annual dividends; he should add 100% of these to his nest egg.

3. He has a starting nest egg of $1.1 million, which he should invest in ‘passive’ income-producing investments [AJC: real-estate is ideal for this]

As he starts to convert more stock to cash (i.e. through sale of small amounts of stock each year, as the law & his board may allow, and/or dividends) eventually, his nest-egg will grow to $4 million …

… which is his lifestyle break-even point i.e. the Rule of 20 says that your nest-egg should be 20 times your required annual living expense, which is currently $200k.

The good news is that anything converted to cash – hence, into passive investments – over $4,000,000 allows our founder to increase his annual living expense.

You’ll find that if you follow this system:

a) Sure, you’ll be living well below your ‘paper means’, but once you realize that your wealth is merely on paper, you’ll get over it, and

b) You’ll slowly-but-surely be transferring your ‘paper wealth’ into real wealth (i.e. passive investments), and

c) If you choose income-producing real-estate as your vehicle for holding your ‘real wealth’, you’ll pretty quickly find that you are able to support an even more quickly-increasing standard of living, no matter what happens to your tech company, and sooner than you may think.

This is how to bullet-proof your future …

… unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg, who can probably already survive on 4% p.a. of $1.1 billion 😉



What’s a simple business to start?

Often, I’m asked about businesses to start.

Usually, the person asking has low-to-zero capital to invest; wants to start part-time; and, wants “a simple business to start”:

What is a business that I can start, so simple in nature, that virtually I (perhaps with the help of a friend) could start with less than $3000 and some hard work?

Well, there are lots of what I call ‘traditional’ businesses that you can start part-time, depending on your talents:

For example, if you are good at photography, you could do wedding photos at nights or on weekends. Same if you like baking (“cakes delivered to your door”).

But, these aren’t as easy to scale part-time, in my opinion,  as an online business …

… which is why I prefer online businesses, these days.

Even then, some online businesses are better than others:

For example, starting a blog (perhaps like this one), or selling information products (e.g. eBooks), or even starting an eBay business might be relatively easy, but they’re hard to scale into something that might one day take you full-time (so that you can quit your job and become your own boss) or even – eventually -become saleable.

So, let me share with you the little-known secret of the type of online business that I think is:

1. easiest to start, and

2. makes the most money, and

3. is still quite scaleable and saleable (the two magic words if you want to retire rich).

The secret is to create a 2-sided market place.

A two-sided market place is any kind of business that has buyers on one side and sellers on the other:

1. eBay is one example: it’s people and businesses selling to other people and businesses.

2. Amazon is NOT an example (it’s very hard to set up a warehouse and systems to become an online seller like Amazon) but the Amazon Marketplace is a example: it has buyers and sellers using Amazon’s payment platform to sell stuff to each other.

3. Etsy is another example: people make things (arts, crafts, jewellery, etc.) and list it on where people browse and buy things: Etsy doesn’t make anything, sell anything, or hold stock … it just makes a % of every sale for introducing both sides of the marketplace to each other.

4. The most famous recent example is Airbnb, started by 3 guys who simply came up with the idea of letting people share their couches for backpackers to stay (they weren’t even the first: got there first); it has since evolved into a real competitor to the Expedias and Pricelines of this world and is on track to become a $1bill.+ company.

That’s why, when people ask me what business to start, this type of business is usually where I then point them.

But, how to start?!

To start Airbnb (I suggest you don’t, this is just an example):

1. One of the startup’s founding team goes around their home city photographing and signing up a whole bunch of ‘bed and breakfast’-style accommodation (I know that Airbnb didn’t start with this; remember, this is just an example)

2. The other founder gets to kick back with a tiny budget to drive traffic to a ‘sign up to be notified when … ‘ landing page (LaunchRock is ideal for this).

[HINT: try $50 worth of Facebook ads and another $50 of Google Adwords and see if that drives any traffic. Spend $10 on each ad platform on 5 different keywords rather than $50 on one. Remember to target your ads specifically to your city (I know FB allows this; I’m not sure if Google does). Submit your landing page to sites like and Wait for a more significant story before you spam Techcrunch and Mashable]

3. Once you have 20 to 50 BnB’s signed up, and perhaps 200 – 600 names on the landing page, you put the two sides together and see if magic happens!

4. If so, you rinse and repeat in another city, and another (until you raise sufficient investment to allow you to hire ‘city managers’ to do the photographic/doorknocking for you).

5. If not, this marketplace idea sucks. Try another.

Now, stop asking and go do it … 🙂


Catch my latest interview here – thanks Bill (founder of Credit Card Assist).



How to start with next to nothing in cash and build up from there?

Ken H asks:

I am just starting my journey to the concept of making money when you buy. Can I get more examples of what can be bought to use this concept? Where do I learn a strategy that I can start with next to nothing in cash and build up?

Great question, Ken!

The short answer is that you need a source of cashflow.

The long answer:

A high-paying job is ideal (but, only if you invest 30% to 50% of it after tax) …

… if not a high-paying job, then a second source of income.

I like the idea of starting an online business ‘on the side’ and reinvesting 100% of the profits (a) back into the business to help it grow and, whatever’s left over, (b) in income-producing investments.

The ideal investments, of course, are ones where you can get a silent partner to put up 75% – 90% of the money required. That way you can get more investments quicker.

Also, when the bank puts in 80% of the funds required to fund a real-estate acquisition, and it goes up in price by 20%, you have just doubled your money (less the bank’s interest).

And, the best ‘silent partner’ that I know is The Bank. But, the investments that The Bank likes the most – hence, they will lend by far the most on these – is good old-fashioned real-estate.

So, I would reinvest as much of my savings as possible into real-estate, and then wait 10 to 20 years (unless my business grows really fast, in which case I might wait 5 to 10 years.

Sure beats ‘working for The Man‘ for 40+ years, doesn’t it?

Installing an ATM in your business …

I met a small business owner a few weeks ago …

He was a smart young guy [AJC: aren’t they all?] who was setting up his own Internet design studio, building Internet-based software projects for other business owners.

His business is essentially a professional service business, and my advice to him was pretty much the same as I give to all professional service business owners (consultants, accountants, attorneys, doctors, etc.):

Except in rare circumstances, you don’t have a business, you have a high-paying job … with perks!

[AJC: the perks are around the tax benefits that attribute to business owners but not to paid employees; ask an accountant for examples.]

Most of these kinds of businesses don’t scale very well i.e. they can’t grow very large; they rely on the owners’ personal exertion (sometimes called ‘partners’); and, either can’t be sold, or can only be sold for small multiples of annual profit or turnover.

In short: you can’t rely on selling these businesses to fund your retirement.

But, what they do generally provide is income …

Because they are professional services, the owners are able to sell their own labor – and, those of their employees – at high multiples, usually generating excellent recurring revenue.

And, because they often take years of hard work and relationship building over many, many clients they can be quite “bullet-proof” (if well managed) in terms of providing that income reliably.

This was certainly the case for the young guy that I met.

Even though his agency was still quite young/small, it was already generating a nice income and showing signs of growing well.

My advice for him was to grow his personal income very slowly (this is advice that I would give to any business owner), and to pull as much money out of the business as possible (this is not advice that I would give to other business owners) …

… my advice was to treat the business as his personal ATM

[AJC: but not to the detriment of the business, or his partners, employees, clients, backers, etc.]

But, my advice was not to spend that ATM-cash on personal lifestyle building (homes, cars, vacations, etc.), but on passive investments.

I recommended that he use that cashflow to fund an aggressive investment portfolio, outside of his business: one that would one day grow to replace his personal income as generated by the business.

When the day comes that his passive income surpasses his personal business income, he becomes free.

What would you advise?

How to increase sales …

If you’ve chosen ‘business’ as your primary vehicle to reach your own $7 million in 7years, then it’s best that you focus on increasing the amount of profit that you get to take home each day, week, month, and year.

To non-business readers this may sound like obvious advice, but you would be amazed at how many business owners focus on two numbers:

1. Sales Volume – usually expressed as “my business turned over $2.3 million last year”, and

2. Profit Margin – usually expressed as “my business makes 7% net profit, before tax”.

These may be key numbers for a large business – particularly if listed on a stock exchange, because the market punishes stocks that don’t grow their sales (sales $) fast enough, with comfortable margins (profit %) – however, for a small business …

these are simply ‘vanity metrics’.

The only number that really counts is:

3. Net Profit After Tax – usually expressed as “Last year I took home from my business $738,000 in my pocket”

This is the number that you get to spend and / or invest (preferably the latter) each year, and the one number that you want to grow year-over-year.

So, when aspiring or new business owners ask me:

What is the best way to increase sales volume for a small business?

I say:

According to Jay Abraham (master marketer), there are only three ways to increase sales volume:

1. More customers (customer acquisition e.g. marketing, advertising, referrals),

2. Higher sales per customer (up-selling and cross-selling e.g. bundled offers),

3. More sales per customer (customer retention e.g. backend products)

You only need small improvements in each to make major improvements in your overall sales volume i.e. a 10% improvement in each area means a 33% increase in sales volume, overall.

An example strategy (for, say, an eCommerce site) that encompasses all three elements might be to:

1. Improve your Google search rankings and run some Adwords and FaceBook ad campaigns to bring in some new customers.

2. Create some bundled packages and add some special checkout offers to entice some of your customers to increase the size of their order.

3. Capture their e-mail addresses and send out special offers once every 6 weeks to encourage some repeat sales.

If you are very successful with your bundled, checkout, and e-mail discount offers, you might find that your % profit margin slips slightly, but that your overall sales volume increases significantly.

More importantly, the amount of net profit – i.e. cash that you get to take home in your pocket – goes up dramatically, meaning that you have a lot more cash available to invest in stocks and real-estate.

Then, it won’t be long before that $7 million in 7 years starts to look pretty achievable.

Thinking about starting a solo business?

I think, these days, if you aren’t starting YOUR FIRST BUSINESS as an online business then you aren’t serious about making money.

Let’s face it, we’ve all tried lemonade stands, paper rounds, flea markets and even working at McDonalds as ways to make money. But, compared to these, an online business can knock it out of the ballpark.

Let’s take my son as an example:

At age 12 he came to me and said he was starting an eBay business; he asked if he could use my eBay account (I said ‘yes’) and if I would invest $50 in return for 50% of the business so that he could buy stock.

Not long after, he had completed his first transaction and returned my $50 so that he could get my 50% back (I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it doesn’t quite work that way).

Within two years he was negotiating daily with Chinese suppliers, bringing wholesale quantities of stuff to the USA and shipping daily from our house (bless the US postal system … it works!). He also kept a fully-fledged accounting system that he set up himself.

Now, even though he cannot (yet) write code, he has a online web-business (not eBay), carries no stock, spends half an hour a day on his business and earns the equivalent of a good adult full-time salary.

He just turned 17.

One man’s lean …

I don’t know if you follow the startup scene, but you will see a huge movement to the concept of ‘lean startups’ as championed by Steve Blank and Eric Ries.

However, one man’s lean is just another man’s bootstrap.

That’s not exactly correct: bootstrapping a company generally means starting it without much / any outside finance and launching it on the smell of an oily rag.

For example, Guy Kawasaki famously started Truemors with just $12,107.09

… if you know Guy [AJC: he’s an early Apple employee; founder of one of the original Silicon Valley angel investing firms; and, author of a number of ‘must read’ business best-sellers including ‘Art Of The Start’] he could certainly afford to pay more to start his business … a lot more … he just chose not to 😉

On the other hand, creating a Lean Startup is more about talking to customers before spending money than simply looking for ways to cut costs. But, there’s nothing new in this … it ‘s just – or should be – common sense.

Let me explain with an example from my own business life …

When I first came up with the idea for my business – the one that I eventually ran in the USA, Australia, and New Zealand and subsequently sold for many millions – I had NO experience in the field.

It was just an idea that I got from working in a slightly-related industry (via my other business that I still own today).

However, rather than jump out and launch it, first I did a few things:

1. I found a business in the USA that had the same idea and had been ‘doing it’ for at least 10 years. I tracked them down and flew to the USA and met with the founder. He happily helped me understand the business.

That’s when I undertook my first ‘pivot’.

A pivot is another one of those sexy, new-fangled terms for something that every startup founder who eventually succeeds fully understands (and, those who fail have never worked out for themselves) that says: your first idea sucks.

It’s only once you TALK to clients and competitors that you will KNOW what to build. And, my original idea was not IT.

2. Aside from a new perspective on how to build my business idea, the second thing that I got from the US business’ founder was some industry data. But, it was for the USA.

Being an analytical type of guy, I decided to find out what these numbers would look like for Australia. Basically, they were to support our marketing message by providing backup industry data. Since there wasn’t any in Australia, I set out to adapt the US version by doing my own research.

Once I had this research in hand, I decided to try my hand at writing my own press release (I couldn’t afford a PR agency) and sent the 4 page report that I wrote out to a couple of business magazines.

By some miracle, I ended up with a full page article (including photo of a very young-looking AJC) in Australia’s most prestigious business weekly (think Forbes for Australia). I was quoted as “Australia’s Expert”, yet I hadn’t even handled one single transaction!

3. On the back of that article I was approached to produce a 2-day course on the subject matter of my report. The company was affiliated with a major Australian university (people attending my course received credits towards their professional accreditation) and I was paid $1,000 per course to deliver it! Yet, I still hadn’t handled even one transaction.

Those things not only proved that my idea – and, unique approach (as taught by my new US colleagues) would work in Australia, and that there was definitely market demand … it also brought me my first 5 ‘Fortune 500’ customers!

So, I had found an idea, researched the best way to implement the idea, promoted the idea, sought market feedback (i.e. was somebody prepared to pay money to learn about and/or use the idea), and signed up my first customers …

… only THEN did I set about to build the actual business: hire staff, build software, etc., etc..

Now, that is what Lean Startup really means 🙂