How to Find an Awesome Business Idea

Just this week, I came up with about 3 solid business ideas.

These weren’t goofy, half-baked ideas: I could probably turn all of them into a profitable business, given the time and interest.

In fact, I liked one of them enough that I’m working on one of them now, and will consider working on the other one in the future.

And honestly, it really didn’t take that much work to come up with any of them.  I just thought about it for a cumulative total of ~2 hours, and they came to me.

But it’s not easy for many people.  In fact, many aspiring entrepreneurs think it’s one of the hardest parts of starting a business.

I met a guy at a networking mixer a few weeks ago, and what I told him what I did, he said “That’s pretty cool.  I’d think the hardest part of starting a company would be coming up with a good idea.”

My response?

“No way!  Coming up with an idea is the easiest part!”

Lots of people think coming up with  good idea is the hardest part.  And it’s not because they’re dumb or unmotivated: this guy I talked to had a successful, high-paying careers with one of the many insurance companies in Hartford.

4 simple steps to overcoming entrepreneurship fear

I recently wrote an  article on The Change Blog where I talked about conquering fear of entrepreneurship through facts–in other words, rather than baselessly fearing entrepreneurship (“zomg I think my entrepreneurial idea will fail, waaaahhh!” and giving up before you even started); assessing what you do know, figuring out what you need to learn, and do something to execute.

In the article, I told my story of going from a new guy in a new town in May 2012 (Hartford, CT), knowing no one, and having nothing but an idea scribbled on a yellow legal pad, to being President of a tech venture working with 5 programmers (we’re currently developing the software and testing with users) in the course 3 months.

My success so far might sound like magic to some (“he must have been really smart.  He must have had great social skills to meet all those people!”).

But nothing could be further from complete bullshit than categorizing my results as “luck”…

…it came because I acted, and actively sought to learn things I didn’t know, such as:

1. How to recruit passionate, quality programmers (without paying some shady freelancer a bucketload of money).

2. How to assess good (and bad) business ideas (I’ll give you a hint: it’s not by listening to your intutition or sitting in a dark room brainstorming ideas).

3. Why business ideas don’t matter that much at first, and what actually does (I used to think coming up with a great business idea out of the chute was the most important thing, and I didn’t pursue entrepreneurship for years because I couldn’t “come up with a good idea”).

4. How to get a crapload of startup work done without spending more than a few bucks here and there (bootstrapping).

5. And most importantly, how to plan my time and efforts to minimize money spent and maximize results (see how sucking at planning almost destroyed my ventures).

But we already know that our fears are unjustified.

I think that, deep-down, we always call our own bluff…we’re scared, and that makes us angry…angry to think “if only I actually had the confidence to try to start my own company, I could at least say I tried”.




5 Awesome Resources for College Entrepreneurs (that I wish I knew about when I was in college)

One of the biggest lies about college is that the only thing you can do there is prime yourself to go get a cubicle career at some big company.

If you listen to about 95% of guidance councilors and professors, that’s exactly the impression you’d get.

That’s the impression got when I was in college.

But you know what’s cool?

The times are starting to change.

Society is starting to realize the awesome entrepreneurial things that college students are capable of doing, and the immense value that they can create for the marketplace.

Schools are starting to realize, “dayum!  Maybe we should start promoting entrepreneurship with our students!”

People with bucketloads of money are starting to realize “maybe investing in these kids is a good way to keep building our portfolio!”

And a few select college students who were smart enough to pull off entrepreneurship are saying “maybe I should give back to other college students who are trying to do the same thing”.

Here’s some specs on 5 awesome resources available to university entrepreneurs.  If you go to a sizable university (even if it’s just a public state university!), I guarantee you that your university will have some of these resources.

Feel lucky that you have these!  These are resources worth tens of thousands of dollars that you get for cheap / free just because you’re a student.  Imagine how jealous everyone out of school is!  But seriously if you don’t take advantage of these and then complain later (“there’s no resources to help me become an entrepreneur!  waaaah!”), I will come over there and annihilate you: [click to continue…]

4 Important Lessons I Learned From Jumping into Entrepreneurship Head-On

A lot of people start feeling super-awkward about themselves when they contemplate starting their own business…y’know, a tingley-feeling of “should I really be doing this?”  ”Will I uber-fail and people will think I’m an idiot?”

I worried about all of those things…but decided “to hell with it, YOLO!”, and gave up the idea of pursuing a “normal” career; opting to jump head-first into entrepreneurship after I graduated from college.

(I promise I don’t say YOLO in real life).

And I sit here 10 months later…reflecting back to all of the things I’ve done…

…some of them have been ingenious…

…most of them have been downright stupid, and can only be chalked up to a “learning experience”

So I decided to take my experiences…the good, the bad, and the shitty…and distill them into this super-long, heart-spilling missive.

TLDR??..if you’re serious about starting on your own, and don’t want to spend months making mistakes, take this opportunity to learn from my mistakes, and do better yourself:

[click to continue…]

Lauching on Kickstarter- 3 myths that can sink your campaign

R.C.’s Note: Whew!!  It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve written a post here!  I’ve been going through some pretty big and exciting changes with my businesses that have just been killing my time these last couple of weeks!  I’ll share those with you soon.  Thanks as always for being a reader.  -RC

You already know that one of my projects is FusionCase, an iPhone case that will go on Kickstarter.

As you’ve probably noticed by now, I haven’t talked about FusionCase in a while.You may be wondering “we haven’t heard RC talk about his Kickstarter project for a while.  What happened?  Did it fizzle out?  Is he just a jerk and doesn’t want us to know what he’s up to?”

Oh, the headaches that come along the way…

The truth is, designing, pitching and selling a manufactured product takes about 10 times more work than you would think, especially for this business-school boy here.

I don’t mean that in a way that I would never do it again…actually, it’s a crapload of fun, and I’m finally learning about the design process behind building physical creative products worked(Lord knows I had no exposure to that earlier in life…I had like 3 Legos and 1 Tinker Toy pole to my name as a kid, and I seriously almost failed kindergarten art class).

Naturally, my work has bee more on the business side of things.  I spent an ungodly amount of time researching Kickstarter: how it worked;  the “tried and true” methods for promoting a product and getting people interested; and most importantly, the things that many people screw up that sinks their ship.

Before I tell you what I found out, reflect on the following statement:

“Dude, Kickstarter’s like this great way to, like, launch a product and, like, go viral and get lots of people to invest in you, man.”

OK, maybe not everyone out there sounds like a village idiot when they talk, but admit it: Kickstarter does seem like an easy way to raise money and get recognition for yourself online.



The truth will set you free (and maybe make you cry). [click to continue…]

The Stupidly Easy Way to Figure Out if Entrepreneurship Is For You

I wrote an article about finding out “how to figure out if entrepreneurship is for you” because a lot of people ask me that.  In fact, just Google it, and about 4 million articles pop up.

I understand why people ask this.  It’s a seemingly innocuous and completely valid question.

But there’s a simple problem:

The question is completely misleading.  And frankly, I fear for those who ask this question, because most of the answers I’ve seen are complete crap and could easily guide people into making terrible decisions for themselves.  Allow me to explain:

Let’s take a poll, shall we?

As I mentioned above, I Googled “how to figure out if entrepreneurship is for you”, and I picked one of the articles at random.  This one-pager boils down the question of entrepreneurship to a few key points.  For example:

  • are you “unfazed” by risk?
  • Are you a “decision maker”?
  • Is it your “dream business” and your “passion”?

There’s one small problem:

Who the hell cares? [click to continue…]

How to know if you can actually execute your business idea [The Entrepreneur's Manifesto]

Note: This article is written mostly from the perspective of tech startups because the comparisons I make are easy to explain from this vantage point.  In reality, this applies to any business venture. 

We already talked about why your business idea doesn’t matter (and what actually does).  There,  I said that the value of a startup or a business is in your ability to execute.

Great ideas are completely irrelevant without being able to execute.

I think most new entrepreneurs would read this and understand it to a certain point.  ”OK, just because I have a good idea for the next Facebook isn’t enough.  No one’s going to fund my idea just because I came up with it”

But that’s about as far as their understanding goes.

“Well that’s fine; I will just hustle and go find myself a technical co-founder and by-oh-golly I’ll be starting my tech startup by this time next month”

Believe me, it is possible to get programmers on board (I’ve done it).  It’s possible to get people interested and initially excited with your startup idea.  The sales pitch is the easy part:

Getting people to say they’ll help you with your project is barely the beginning.

Think about it: even if you could convince programmers, do you know enough about how to manage them?  Did you provide them with enough of an incentive to make them stick around?  Do you know that the product they are making is what you actually want / need? [click to continue…]

How a Lawyer Started an Immensely Successful Blog (while working 70+ hours/wk at his law firm)

“But I’m too busy to start a business on the side!”

Well, not if you’re Robert Berger.

myphotoRobert Berger is a full-time attorney who specializes in corporate litigation…who also happens to be the owner of Dough Roller, a super-popular personal finance blog that has 10,000 e-mail subscribers and 2 million yearly visitors.  He started Dough Roller from the ground-up back in 2007.

Now if I know one thing about lawyers, it’s that they work…all of the time!  They are some of the most dedicated–and most busy!–people out there.

So when I heard that Robert started Dough Roller while working full time at his law practice, I was floored!


Robert took his blog from a passive hobby, and turned it into something that makes him more money than practicing law.

His success is a great inspiration to entrepreneurs of all types, especially those currently working a day job who are looking to start a business on the side.

Listen to the interview here.

Some of the interview’s big takeaways:

  • How Robert woke up at 5am every day to write for his blog—and worked on it at lunch and after dinner!
  • How he got a big break from MSN Money only about 6 months into blogging.
  • How he went from making low 5-figures to 6 figures in 1 year from his blog.
  • What he recommends to newcomer bloggers (hint: it’s not just writing your content and hoping you get discovered!).
  • The importance of relationships in building your business.

It’s already impressive enough to catapult a blog into the 6 figure income stratosphere…

…but who does that while practicing law 50-70 hours per week??

Now that’s just crazy!

Listen in, and let me know what you think.


The #1 mistake to avoid when coming up with business ideas [The Entrepreneur's Manifesto]

This article is Part 1 in The Entrepreneur’s Manifesto: 6 Simple Techniques to Startup Mastery.

Gather ’round the campfire my dear friends, for today, we begin our hero’s journey down the road of entrepreneurship with the Entrepreneur’s Manifesto.

We start by asking a super-basic question of which the proper understanding is 100% essential to startup success.

Have you ever noticed that tons of people love the “idea” of being an entrepreneur…

…but did you ever stop to think about what it actually means to be an entreprenuer?  Like, if someone were to ask you “how would you define an entrepreneur” (dictionary style, baby!), what would you say?

I think most people would say something like this:

“Yeah man, they make cool companies and come up with kickass products!”

“They make tons of money working for themselves!”

“They didn’t want to work 9-5, so they gave the middle finger salute to their boss and went to work for themselves!”

“RC, why are you asking so many stuuuuupid questions?”

Because all of those definitions are wrong, and only one definition actually matters:

Entrepreneurs solve other people’s problems, and are compensated for doing so. [click to continue…]

If your first business venture is innovative, you’re doing something wrong

Starting a business for the first time?

What’s your business idea?… a tech startup?  A product that will completely change the world?  A “Yelp for geriatrics”?

Before you get too excited, I must warn you:

If your idea is some world-changing, paradigm shifting technology or concept, you’re basically sinking your own ship before it even leaves the harbor.


I’ll put it plainly:

Most people I’ve met who are starting a business for the first time (myself included when I started) have essentially no clue what’s needed to actually successfully start a company.

Everything’s a shot in the dark.

Which is fine…shooting in the dark is how first-time entrepreneurs learn.

But if your business idea is something that’s so much of an uphill battle that it’s basically rock climbing…something way outside of your skillset and ability to executre…what do you think your chances of success are?

I’m not here to discourage you.  In fact, I’ve got a perfect idea that can help solve this problem:

Go start a foundational business first.

What’s a foundational business?

foundational business is a business that’s really easy for you to execute.

foundational business is characterized by these key elements:

  • The idea is straightforward and easy to understand (i.e. not very innovative).
  • The idea primarily uses skills you already have.
  • Can be implemented in a matter of weeks, or even days.
  • Something you have a high degree of control over (i.e. not relying on other people to keep things moving).
  • Has a super-straightforward way of making money (i.e. not “well this is Yelp + Facebook + freemium + ads”…I mean as easy as “You do X and you get paid Y”)

A foundational business teaches you the business acumen and mindsets needed to actually run a company.

You take the foundations you built with your foundational business, and apply them to a bigger venture when you’re ready. [click to continue…]