This year I read three books that have had a marked, positive impact on my business (read: have made me more money).
What makes these particular volumes so special? They’re actionable.
You read them, you implement the strategies they present, and your business grows as a result.
The core message of the 7 Day Startup is “you don’t learn until you launch”.
While business schools and entrepreneurship programs in universities grade you on how well you write business plans for theoretical businesses, The 7 Day Startup guides you through launching an actual business ASAP.
Another core tenet of 7DS is that certain business models are inherently better than others. The agency model, for example, sucks, because your margins are low and it’s hard to achieve any appreciable level of automation.
In fact, Dan himself ran a web design agency that brought in good revenues but crappy profits. My recent podcast guest, Russ Perry of DesignPickle.com also ran a full service design/branding agency for about a decade and worked his ass off the whole time for a mediocre pay off.
This book sets you up for success from the very beginning by providing filters that help you rule out fundamentally poor business models. That is, those that don’t allow for delegation, automation and smooth functioning at scale without your constant, direct involvement.
In other words, The 7 Day Startup is The 4 Hour Workweek of 2014, but better.
It was thanks to this book (and hearing Dan speak at a conference in Bangkok), that I made the single biggest positive change to my business by launching my productized consulting service, MemberFix.
To make sure you actually take action on the info in the book, Dan also provides a ton of free resources like templates, processes and guides, as well as access to a really awesome 7 Day Startup Facebook group that has almost 2000 members now.
The idea behind Ask is deceptively simple: instead of guessing at what your audience wants and needs (like most of us do), simply ASK them and then supply the solution they’re looking for!
The way it works is that you survey your audience, determine the ‘buckets’ most of your visitors fall into, and then create dedicated products and services for the folks in each respective bucket.
I’ve implemented the Ask Funnel in my business (you can check it out here – opens in a new tab) and it’s been eye-opening to say the least. Ryan emphasizes that you can never assume you know your audience as well as you think you do, no matter how long you’ve been operating in your market.
I can certainly confirm Ryan’s idea. After deploying the Ask Funnel on VicDorfman.com and analyzing the results, I was surprised to learn that many people had membership site ideas, or had even built complete membership sites (sometimes spending thousands of dollars in the process!) without doing ANY kind of validation.
Related: How To Validate a Product
This is a cardinal sin in online business and accounts for an egregious amount of wasted time and resources. Thus I can now built products/services/coaching packages dedicated to helping people quickly validate their products and collect payment BEFORE spending a single second creating something nobody would want. Boom!
The actual book is a fun read because it’s broken up into two sections. In the first section Ryan tells the story of how he came up with the Ask Funnel. It’s a good story and has a “rags to riches” appeal that many entrepreneurs can certainly relate to.
The second section is about technique. It teaches you how to implement the Ask Funnel effectively, which mistakes to avoid, and which software to use.
Ask gives you an actionable guide to taking the guesswork out of your marketing, communicating with your audience and product creation. If, like me, you were struggling with trying to figure out what your audience wants and what to create for them, then I urge you to read this paradigm-shifting book!
Dan Norris is the man. And let me assure you that I’m not prone to wide eyed fanboy-dom. So then why are 2 out of the 3 books I’m recommending penned by the beloved, bawdy, beer-drinking Aussie?
Simple, because his books are just that freaking good.
Content Machine does something magical: it teaches you how to do content marketing in a scalable, predictable, profitable manner.
Most people write articles or ‘blog’. But this is the wrong mindset, cautions Dan. Instead of being a writer, you should view yourself as a Content Marketer. The distinction is paramount.
Bloggers write stuff and hope for traction. Content marketers look for a logical connection between their content and how it benefits their business. Dan calls this ‘monetization logic’.
I thought I had a pretty good grip on content marketing before but reading this book has inspired me to adopt a more intelligent, laser-guided approach that also requires less trial and error.
Just as he did with the 7 Day Startup, Dan provides a slew of useful resources for Content Machine readers to help you take action and make the most out of the book.
The name of the game with any good business advice is to immediately implement it and hopefully see some positive results with your business. Sometimes that’s hard to do because many business book provide you with a lot of theory but very little how-to.
These books stand out in the degree to which their advice is actionable. Each one of these books has positively impacted my business in a noticeable way. And if you read them (and take action!) you can see similar improvements.