SO I told you I’d clue you in next time a Bizness I’m running or coaching went to the Five Figures Per Month mark. This is to build in a little credibility for my soon-to-be-opened Shoestring Mentoring Program.
Five Steps to Five Figures per Month, eh? On a Shoestring… meaning that you start with less capital than you might take out of a garage sale, then leverage that into a small Bizness that profits Five Figures (that’s a LOW of $10,000) per month.
Sounds like a tall order.
Well… it happened yesterday.
The small Bizness I started with my son Pierce (15 years old now) to teach him entrepreneurship in a hands-on kinda way just topped the $10K/month level. Wanna know how? By applying the Shoestring Steps. Five Steps to Five Figs, baby!
From Motivation… to Market Research… the Unique Selling Proposition… and Business Metrics… finally, Automation and Outsourcing… to a “Bizness” model that nets Five Figures per Month… we’ll cover it all in this post.
THREE disclaimers before we move on:
1) Your results may vary
Because I have taken a number of Biznesses to the Five Figures per Month level, I knew it could be done with this one. But you’re likely in a different part of the world, with a different set of circumstances, skills and talents… you get the idea. I’m not promising that just anyone can duplicate this. I will, however, assert that no one becomes successful in Bizness without knowing the Steps I’ll be showing.
2) Results are extrapolated
What that means is that we only just hit this level; we’ve had a number of $275, $300, $400 profit days of late. But just yesterday is when my son and I did $592 worth of Bizness with about $90 materials cost. That’s a $500 profit day… and since we are doing it 5 1/2 days per week, having 24 days a month like yesterday equals over $10K a month.
3) This business will need more Steps taken to ensure a year-round income
The particular Bizness that Pierce and I started can be year-round, but we must establish more relationships with institutional buyers than individual homeowners to make the kind of money we’re making this summer into a year-round proposition.
So, if’n ya waded through those disclaimers and are still willing to see how we applied the Shoestring Steps to make serious bank toward my son’s car and college account, read on…
Shoestring Step ONE:
Get OFF Your ASS
So, the very first thing we did was to decide what we were going to do. The easiest kind of Bizness to grow quickly with positive cash flow right away is a local service business.
As a teen I had discovered that I could make in the neighborhood of $30 an hour… in the Eighties (!)… by aerating lawns. But lawn aeration is quite seasonal, it’s HOT work, and Pierce is still a bit small to be handling a heavy piece of equipment.
We also thought about window washing; it’s LESS seasonal, especially for those commercial accounts that need it done all year. But there is the thing about jockeying ladders… I don’t mind heights and neither does my son. BUT it’s hell on your back to take those things on and off a car and move ’em around a house or commercial building.
Then it hit us. Screen Repair. I had done this as a younger man to confound the big window cleaning companies that came in with big financing and big plans… you can read about my Ninja Marketing Move elsewhere on the blog.
Screen repair is a needed service, especially in Colorado where the Miller Moth is the freakin’ state bird. The main pieces of equipment are a spline roller, flathead screwdriver, and utility knife. Ya also need screen material, as well as corners and springs to replace bad ones.
With an TINY initial investment of $62.66, we were off to the races.
Shoestring Step TWO:
Find Out The W’s
This Step is about finding out Who Wants What, Where they can be found, Why they Want What they Want, When to hit them with the sale… and hoW to reach them.
The most important part of this whole equation is the WHO… and not only Who wants your stuff but also Who is supplying their needs now. These guys are not necessarily your competitors, as we’ll see later. And having this intel was key to developing our USP – Unique Selling Proposition – later on in Step THREE.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s examine what we learned in Step TWO…
There are a number of others in our space.
We have City Glass, which is mainly a window glass company (duh) but they also do screen repair. They’re waaay down south in Colorado Springs, about 20-30 minutes drive from anywhere. City Glass will repair a screen door but they’re really in the business of doing glass. You gotta bring it to them (20-30 minute drive) and they’ll call you when it’s done in 7-10 days (‘nother 20-30 minute drive) Oh, and YOU gotta get your screen door in and out of the tracks, and transport it as well.
There is A + L Home Improvement, a family-owned establishment that has been serving the area for 38 years. They also mostly do glass, but they have parts for patio doors and screens that Home Depot and Lowes don’t carry. A + L Home Improvement will come to you, but they really would rather not. They’re too bizzy doing other, more profitable things like replacing whole windows. For a single screen door they will come out for $65, then charge for the time and materials to replace the screen. You might be looking at a hundred bucks, but at least you don’t have to fuss with getting the screen in and out of your tracks.
There’s Ace Hardware, the last of the hardware stores in the area that actually will do screen repair. Ace Hardware will sell you the screen material or they will do it for you. But hey won’t send somebuddy out to your place; YOU have to remove and replace your screen door.
Besides finding out Who was already in our space, we learned more and more about our target market. What their needs were, What they needed as a solution. That enabled us, believe it or not, to come up with an solution that Created Value for everyone in our space… both customers AND “competitors” welcomed us in because of the next Step.
Shoestring Step THREE:
Learn To CREATE Value
So here is where Pierce and I began to develop our USP – our Unique Selling Proposition.
Our unique selling proposition is that WE come to YOU. One visit, no hassle. Same day we come, the problem is solved.
City Glass didn’t bat an eye over the competition. In fact, they are grateful that I send ’em bizness when I see broken glass.
A + L is happy with us for the same reasons, but I’m also a customer of theirs now when I need to get custom parts for dated hardware that no one else sells anymore.
Ace Hardware is happy that I buy materials from ’em, and they don’t have to hassle with telling customers how to get their screens in and out.
Win, win, win, all the way around. Our customers are pleased and we’ve become partners with 0ur competitors.
Winning With the Unique Selling Proposition
“We come to You!”
– Mobile Screen Repair
The signs were effective immediately; we weren’t finished putting out all six signs when the first call came in! We also used a number of other free or cheap advertising sources:
Fixr.com, a site dedicated to helping local handyman/electrical/plumbing types to put out their shingle. There’s a paid and a free listing. We went with free.
Craigslist. Free, easy listing of goods and services for sale.
Facebook Fan Page. Also free and easy to put together. https://www.facebook.com/Colorado-Springs-Screen-Repair is our “vanity” url.
Fiverr. Five bucks. I went to Fiverr.com to have some fella in Indonesia submit my little screen repair companies to free listings in local searches: Yext, MerchantCircle, SuperPages, YellowBook, ThinkLocal, FourSquare, et cetera, ad nauseum. I think I got thirty free listings for the one $5 investment.
Google Plus page. Free. With the juice from the Facebook branded URL, the local search listings I paid five bucks for, and the Fixr.com listing, I ended up being #4 and #5 on the local search results for “mobile screen repair”.
P.S. — I’m the ONLY one with a phone number right after the name. Nice… I don’t know what other local bizzes are thinking 😉
Next up: I’ll probably make a couple of YouTube videos, naming them “Colorado Springs Screen Repair” and “Screen Door Repair” with a number of zip codes afterwards, and post them on my Plus page, Facebook fan page, Craigslist and Fixr. They don’t have to be super-professional, just have the USP and contact info.
Shoestring Step FOUR:
Measure Everything You Can
In all of the Biznesses I’ve ever created or coached anyone in building, we have NEVER reached the Five Figures per Month mark until taking this Step seriously. Measuring inputs and outputs, and analyzing what they mean, is what separates a hobby income from a FULL-TIME income.
It’s what brought us to that $500 day I told you about in the beginning of this post.
During this stage, we:
- Looked at what sources the calls were coming from (can you tell me how you found out about us?), and more importantly where they were sending us. This told us which free and paid methods were most effective and where to put more signs.
- Tracked how much time we were spending on the road versus hands-on screen-doin’ time. This helped us make the decision to buy a zip code map of the area and designate certain days to spend in certain areas. Higher volume zip codes got more reservations.
- Collected receipts for a couple of weeks to see how much of what we were buying at the hardware stores. This told us how to plan the week, making ONE trip to stock up instead of several trips per day.
- Compared the amount spent on materials versus gross income. This showed us we were spending about .23 cents per square feet on material and charging about $2.25 per square foot. We became fanatics about conserving material with a nearly 10-to-1 return 😉
- Measured how long it took to do a particular kind of job. This enabled us to plot whole days and weeks in Google Calendar efficiently, allowing me to juggle this and my other Biznesses.
This last metric about time management is key. In addition to this nice Father-and-Son biz, I own a martial arts studio, promote a book I wrote about trading the stock market, write this blog… believe it or not I was able to do ALL these things on the very day we broke $500 profit. Not shabby.
This Step, Measuring Everything You Can is how you find the holes in the bucket… where you are wasting time and resources and where the time and money you put in has the BEST results.
By the way, special kudos and thanks to my wife Sabrina for handling the scheduling after we started getting too dang many calls. The low-cost advertising I was doing above started working SO well, we had to forward the phones to her because we kept getting interrupted on one job to deal with another. She really saved the day by taking over the scheduling after we grew too big to handle it alone
Shoestring Step Number FIVE:
Now, WRITE Everything DOWN
We’re in this particular Step now.
Step FIVE is about documenting, so you can duplicate.
- Duplicate your past success.
- Duplicate your best results.
- Duplicate yourSELF… by handing over a list of to-do’s, procedures, contacts, suppliers, et cetera… to someone ELSE to do.
Step THREE is where you Create Value for others. But Step FIVE is where you create value for yourself.
Because once you have a viable Bizness in place, the next thing to do is to work ON your Bizness instead of IN it.
The documentation makes it easy for me to train someone to do anything I don’t want or have the time to do. With a list of necessary steps for each process, I can take that list and quickly teach another what needs doing. Step FIVE avoids reinventing the wheel.
Documenting to-do’s, procedures, contacts, suppliers, isn’t just for you as an employer… it’s for when you move on. Think if you were selling this Bizness to an investor. Sure, you might hand over the brand name and the customer list, even your materials and equipment. But at the end of the day you’re selling someone else a JOB… and who wants to buy a job?
No, with a boatload of documentation to support every process that you do in your Bizness, your are giving your prospective buyer a turnkey business. You are handing over a complete system, not just equipment and a name. Which has more value, the parts that make up what you do, or the mechanism as a whole? You know the answer.
Hmmm… this Bizness might even become licensable or franchisable. Wouldn’t THAT be something?
So even now, while I’m driving around to spots with my son repairing screens, hanging out with him and teaching him valuable lessons about sales, PR, work ethic, and more…
…I’m building and documenting a proven system for making cash, that anyone that’s willing to work… or put others to work… can put to use immediately.
Okey dokey Steppers! That’s the power of the Five Steps to Five Figures. Hope you enjoyed it. Now how’s a little bit of feedback? If you enjoyed this post, give it some love and tweet or fb it out, wouldja? And comment below so we can continue the conversation.