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Have you ever had a cheque for 5 million dollars in your hands?

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5,000,000 dollars and 0 cents. That was the cheque I was holding in my hands.

Now I would love to say it was my money and I made it through some super secret affiliate program but nope, alas it wasn’t mine. The cheque was made out to a friend of mine who (for the purposes of this story) we should call “John”.

John’s story was fascinating and yet another chapter in what I call “White people’s problems” 🙂 I’ll explain.

Crazy brilliance making money quietly

John had this killer idea for an application a couple of years ago and had worked on building it himself with a couple of contractors. The idea is KILLER and he ended up attracting over 100,000 people to his site a month.

On average, he was monetizing a staggering 20% of those visitors and was making 6 figures a month in revenue. His expenses are about $4000/month.

On average, he was monetizing a staggering 20% of those visitors and was making 6 figures a month in revenue. His expenses are about $4000/month.

Now he works like a maniac to keep this setup going (16 hour days) but his traffic is actually increasing and there is little risk that his service is going to go down the drain anytime soon.

White people problems

A couple of months ago, he was out drinking with a couple of friends and they got pretty hammered at a bar in the LA area.

They apparently got into a stupid argument about whether John had the balls to go and present his idea to a VC.

John’s a really bad public speaker and in addition, stammers a lot when he gets nervous.

He does have something really big going for him though. He’s focused and really stubborn.

So being the stubborn SOB that he is, he decided to take his friend on and they made a bet. They bet 10,000 dollars that John wouldn’t have the balls and follow through to put a business plan together, go to up to 3 VC’s and get funded.

Long story short, last Friday, John was able to walk into the offices of a really LARGE VC and present his business.

Nervousness and stammering notwithstanding, they loved it so much they told him they wanted to give him money. 5 million dollars to be exact.

Jedi mind tricks from a VC.

YodaNow here’s the funny thing. John just did this for a bet so he politely declined the offer and said he had to think about it.

Apparently the person he was speaking to was so in love with his business he wrote John a cheque and told him to take it home for the weekend and consider.

Anyway, this past Monday (two days ago) John called me over and showed me the cheque.

5,000,000 dollars and 0 cents. Money he was going to send back.

To thine own self be true

Now that may sound absolutely bananas but I totally understand why he didn’t want the money.

He lives in an awesome condo, drives a very expensive Range Rover and has more money than he (literally) knows what to do with. His problem now isn’t raising more money, it’s finding time to spend the money he’s making.

In addition, he’s really shy and quiet. The idea of opening an office and starting to hire people and having to report to a VC “boss” makes him cringe.

I tell this story because a lot of people out there are building very successful unconventional businesses without much fanfare. No pomp and circumstance, just hard work in corners of the internet.

They are finding customers in a global marketplace, adding value and making sales.

Think about what you want

It’s important to know what you want when you are starting a business. Are you in it for money or to build a business? Those are actually not the same things.

What’s your personality type? Do you like office buildings and lots of people and teams or do you like seeing money flow into an account in private?

Nothing wrong with either of those options but it helps to know which one you want before someone waves a big cheque in your face.

5,000,000 dollars and 0 cents. That was the cheque I was holding in my hands.

Onuora Amobi is VP of Marketing at Learn About The Web. He has an extensive background in both Online Marketing and Enterprise Technology solutions.

8 Comments
  • Dennis

    Funny story. I’ve never seen that spelling of check. I’m guessing it’s a british spelling. However, the message here is to be true to thyself and know what you want. Some people may have loved the idea of reporting to a VC with additional funds, but John knows what he wants and it’s not that. Thanks for sharing.

  • Genie

    The white people problems made me laugh. Overall, great story. Your buddy, “John,” sounds like a smart and business savvy guy. I have to respect him for doing it on his own. I don’t blame him for turning down the VC’s offer.

  • AceofSpades

    Motivational story. Typically, the people I’ve known that are successful in this business are stubborn and don’t turn down a challenge. “John” fits that bill. Good trait to have in a tough business like this. Refusing to back down..

  • Chetty

    Funny and smart post! I dream of one day holding a 5,000,000 check in my hand. However, I have a lot of hard work before I reach that point.

  • Nemo

    Awesome! Can you elaborate on what type of App “John” came up with? I have to imagine it’s a pretty awesome app!

    • CaraMa

      This is what I was wondering. What idea and application was worth a $5,000,000 to a venture capitalist?

  • Bill Franklin

    How in the heck was he monetizing 20% of customers that visited the site? That’s incredible. I need more info on this guy’s project! haha

  • AustinPowers

    Expenses are 4,000 a month and he’s pulling in 6 figures a month. Damn. Those are the kinds of numbers movie studios dream of (just one example). Good for your friend. He’s clearly doing something right.

Business Development

A 2am email could change your business forever

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lots of money

Today I want to talk about vigilance. The vigilance you need to have as an online business owner if you plan to be successful.

The truth is, if you run an online business, you have to be open to new opportunities to grow your business. Sometimes you may even need to change or tweak your business entirely to take advantage of those new opportunities.

The following is a true story about how a 2am email totally changed the course of my business and life. It shows how powerful the internet is and how you are always one piece away from solving the jigsaw puzzle.

Let me get started…

I’m a night owl and I love staying up late.

Even though I do it less these days, I am usually super focused and productive from 10pm through 3am. I have no idea why my mind works this way but it just does.

It’s probably because I have spent 15 years working on online businesses and in the beginning, I did it part time every day AFTER I was done with my day job.

About 10 years ago I was running a high traffic technology blog that I had built and monetized myself.

I was getting about 30,000 unique visitors a day and was still struggling to find the right mix of goods and services to sell to this endless wave of eyeballs coming to my site.

The site was awesome because all my traffic was 100% organic and I had no advertising costs.

The site was making a good deal of money but my gut told me that I could make more. A lot more.

For months and months, I did research on different forms of monetization and tried different ad networks but I couldn’t seem to make that much more.

Then one night, at 2am, I got an email from a vendor in Europe who sold a very specific software product that they swore was extremely profitable if I sold to my audience.

They offered me a 40% affiliate fee if I joined their program so ON A WHIM, I joined their program and installed the ad code that morning.

Here’s the fun part:
lots of money
That vendor and their product made me between $150 to $400 EVERY DAY for the next 5 years. On autopilot. With very little maintenance. Every day.

Here’s the moral of the story.

Never settle, trust your gut and keep looking. The cool thing about this business is that it’s really all about finding missing pieces to the puzzle.

We got tired of manual html, WordPress came along.

We got tired of making crappy landing pages, Leadpages and Thrive Themes came along.

There’s always a solution for your problem on the web, you just have to be vigilant and pay attention.

I have asked myself why I paid attention to that email that night and why I didn’t just send it to junk mail.

I think the reason for that is, I really kept myself open to new opportunities and that literally made me several hundred thousand dollars.

Bottom line people, keep your eyes open and test as many new things as possible.

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Marketing

Covfefe – a great opportunity for digital marketers

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covfefe

Covfefe.

An absolutely RIDICULOUS tweet typo from the President of the United States created worldwide memes and entertainment for a couple of weeks.

Here’s the thing though, if you’re running any type of digital business, you need to recondition your mind to see those events differently – not as entertainment – but as an opportunity. A big one.

What is Covfefe?

I can’t believe I just wrote that title – anyway, here goes.

On May 31, 2017, President Trump sent out a tweet that read, in its entirety, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”. Now he deleted the tweet only hours after its posting but it immediately went viral, becoming an Internet meme and a source of widespread jokes.

That notorious tweet was liked and retweeted over a hundred thousand times, making it one of the most popular tweets of 2017 to that date, as people speculated on the meaning of the word.

The opportunity

This absolutely ridiculous word was created (by accident) by the President of the United States and will be part of the world’s history forever.

The easy thing to do (mea culpa) was to laugh about it, watch the news and make fun of the story with friends and family.

The SMART thing to do would have been to rush out to Bluehost and BUY the domain.

Immediately.

As most of you should know by now, the hardest part of creating an online business is getting traffic for your idea. When you see unconventional words that garner worldwide interest, you need to recondition your mind about exploiting those potential opportunities.

Options for Covfefe.com

Covfefe.com is an awesome domain for a political blog. It’s an awesome domain for political products. It’s an awesome domain for a quirky fun website about trivia or lighthearted items like memes. It’s an awesome domain for a new software product that will change the world.

Heck it would have been an awesome domain to hold and sell.

It ended up being used by someone to sell products and depending upon their ability to build a profitable online business, they may or may not be doing well with it.

All they had to do was create a simple logo and cute graphics, head to Shopify/Merchify, slap the logo on products and a storefront and there you go – a fully functional online business.

The bottom line

Think asymmetrically and stay alert. These opportunities come along every once in a while and the great thing about the internet is, the fastest one to pull the trigger wins.

The next time you see something really funny that trends worldwide, think about how to leverage that idea in your business, your content, your domain etc.

It literally could make you millions of dollars.

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Marketing

Even Bugatti use an email list to sell

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Bugatti Chiron

As anyone who has ever run a business knows, before you begin there are a lot of things you need to have in place.

You need to have a kick ass product but more importantly, you need to have an email list – DEMAND for that kick ass product – an audience interested in hearing about and purchasing that product.

I had a conversation several years ago with a friend of mine who thought that Facebook was totally worthless as a stock and was all hype. Like all the short term critics, he felt that they didn’t know how to monetize effectively blah blah.

I thought that was hilarious.

Facebook has a captive market of over 2 BILLION people who use their product. It was always just a matter of time before they figured out the right mix of value and advertising to start making money. They had the toughest part figured out already – they had the people.

Anyway back to Bugatti.

I love cars and was reading an article about the Bugatti Chiron the other day.

Bugatti Chiron and their email list

The Chiron is a 1500-hp, 8.0-liter 16-cylinder engine having supercar made by legendary car maker Bugatti. It uses four turbochargers to make 1500 hp and 1180 lb-ft of torque, and get this, Bugatti claims a top speed of 261 mph and 0 to 60 time of 2.3 seconds (blink and you miss it).

Price tag: $3 Million

Bugatti has a strong track record of sales and growth and they have done this over and over again but what caught my eye was their very tried and true sales strategy.

  • BEFORE they build the car, Bugatti gets their customers and the general public excited about what they are going to do.
  • THEN they ask customers to get on the waiting list (with a deposit of course).
  • AND once a critical mass of leads is hit, production begins.

Sounds very much like a typical online marketing campaign because those principles also apply to you and the way you should build your online business.

Too many businesses start with the product and try to get the customers later and that’s hard to sustain long term.

In the marketing module of the Online Business Roadmap, I walk through the steps you need to get customers to your business after you build it.

Start with your customers and figure out what their pain points are. What is it they need and how can your next idea solve their problems?

Next, get them excited about your idea or business and offer them something of value as a teaser.

Finally, once you have enough interest and ONLY WHEN you know you have enough interest in the product, open the gates and let the customers in.

With over a billion websites on the planet, it’s critical that you understand these techniques and every year it continues to get harder and harder to get visibility to your business.

What are the challenges you have with getting traffic to your online business? Do you have a favorite form of traffic generation? Let me know in the comments below.

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