Decoding Startups

Interviews Success

“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.


Entrepreneur's Manifesto Starting a Startup


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…]

Starting a Startup Success


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…]

Entrepreneur's Manifesto


I get this question often from readers and would-be entrepreneurs:

“There’s so much to know about being an entrepreneur…where do I even start?”

To most, entrepreneurship seems like a mysterious and perilous myth.  We think:

Entrepreneurs are different from the average person.

They like to create something out of nothing.  They take on crazy risk and do really exciting things.

They chance getting completely burned from the work they do (and sometimes they do get completely burned).

They think working in a corporate jobs is hellishly boring (…well, maybe they’re not so different after all!).

And that makes us wonder:

What is it that keeps these guys going?

Are we different from them?  Can we ever obtain the level of success they have?

What if I told you success in entrepreneurship wasn’t a secret?

Wouldn’t it be cool if what you need to be a successful entrepreneur is actually super-straightforward?

My work with entrepreneurship has shown exactly that.

Now, I never would have believed it before I started doing startup work on my own.

And I’m not saying that the execution of this is easy…quite the opposite actually. [click to continue…]

Q&A Starting a Startup Startup Resources


A couple weeks ago I berated my readers for not having mentors to help them through the trials and tribulations of starting a business.

What I didn’t talk about, though, was how to get kickass mentors to willingly give their time and energy to help you accomplish your startup and entrepreneurial goals.

Don’t think I just wanted to leave you hanging.

While you were in shock and licking your wounds from that article, I was out finding someone I could interview…someone who had already found phenomenal success in finding awesome mentors…so I could bring them on over to Decoding Startups to share their knowledge with everyone here.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to report that my search was successful.

Enter Liz Seda.

Liz is the writer over at A Life on Your Termswhich teaches how to live a purposeful, meaningful life on our own terms.

Liz’s life story–which she talks about on her blog and a bit in our interview–is extremely interesting (my favorite part is how she got into college without taking the SAT.  I wish I had that one figured out in  high school!!!), and her accomplishments impressive.

I cajoled Liz into giving this interview because she is actively working with some awesome mentors in the blogosphere- Scott Dinsmore and Leo Babauta.  When I heard this, I knew she’d be a perfect interviewee for my segment on finding kickass mentors.

Common concerns people have about finding mentors we addressed:

  • How do I even start to approach a mentor?
  • How do I provide value to a potential mentor?  Aren’t I just taking all of their time?
  • Tons of people ask them for things: how do I stick out?
  • How do I make the relationship mutually beneficial for them, even though they’re smarter / more knowledgeable than I am?

 Check the interview out here.

Some of the best insights from the interview:

  • How a 15-paragraph e-mail convinced an A-list blogger to take her under his wings (and they said “short e-mails are better”!).
  • How providing value before asking for anything in return earned her the respect and admiration of 2 A-list bloggers.
  • How much easier things have been for her after building relationships with ultra-helpful mentors.

Here’s the big takeaways from the interviews:

  • Always ask how you can provide value to someone else before trying to take value.
  • Business = people; people = relationships.  Focus on the people and relationship element first.
  • You probably can offer value to people with more experience and expertise than you…just be creative with how you do it (Liz was able to!).

In the comments below, elaborate a bit on your mentors.  How did you get them?  How did you convince them to help you?


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