As a software developer, I've been dreaming about having my own "passive income" for years. I was fascinated by this idea of money coming to my bank account while I sleep. This post will tell you my story of how I started my first business while working full-time. And why you can do it too.

Decided to find a co-founder

I tried to build a side hustle many times and failed miserably. Then I decided - okay, if I can't make it on my own, I need to find another crazy guy and partner up with him, and maybe then we can achieve something.

I figured that I needed to visit places where other founders go and meet them. And since I'm quite an introvert, I decided that going to webinars is good enough.

I went on a webinar where a speaker talked about this super-duper cool system for launching startups that he had developed. I didn't listen to this sh*t. Instead, I just wrote in a chat that I was looking for a co-founder.

This way, I found one guy who responded in the chat room. We had a short call, and the next day we met in a cafe, talked for a bit, and decided to try and build something together.

Dedicate 2 hours every day. No matter what.

We both worked full-time as software developers and decided to dedicate 2 hours every day to work on our project remotely over Zoom. We didn't have an idea for a project yet. But we committed 2 hours, no matter what, to try and do something, anything that would bring us closer to our financial independence.

Now I realize that I was fortunate to find a great business partner from the very beginning, in hindsight.

I heard a lot of bad stories about finding co-founders. But yeah, take it for what it is. You can try and find someone or just do it yourself. At the end of the day, it's your decision and your life. I'm just telling my story.

Hiring a guy to help us get started.

From the beginning, we were struggling a lot. Then we decided - f*ck it, let's hire a mentor. We decided to go back to the webinar guy and hire him. He sold us some video lessons where he explained how to pick an idea. And here is how...

We listed a bunch of things that we were experts at. Then we chose one that had the best chance of success and customers with money. It was Amazon FBA. My partner is an expert on that. He sells some stuff on Amazon, not overly successful, but enough to know all the business's ins and outs.

The "mentor" sold us this Google spreadsheet called "Launch System" that we used to launch our first business. It's real simple, but it worked for us. Here is how it looks:

Next, we listed 3-4 problems that we saw that the Amazon sellers experienced regularly. We then went on Facebook groups with Amazon sellers and started private messaging people. We sent Message 1(M1), then M2, M3, and so on.

  • Message 1(M1) - figuring out problems that a potential client has
  • M2 - what issues are the most urgent and painful?
  • M3 - would you use our service that fixes this problem precisely?
  • M4 - asking for an email
  • M5 - offering the service and asking for money

We were sending 30 messages a day. After messaging over 100 people, we got bored and hired a student VA to do it for us.

After 3 weeks, we have messaged about 650 people, and we picked a problem with the most demand among Amazon sellers. And I'm going to tell you exactly what the problem was.

We solved this problem precisely...

The problem was getting reviews on Amazon FBA products. Reviews are a crucial factor in ranking your products on Amazon. So every seller needs them.

We decided to build a solution that could bring reviews to sellers in a more or less ethical and 'white' method. I cannot tell you exactly what solution we built. It was a combination of manual and automated work involving Facebook ads and driving traffic to Amazon pages, selling the product, and converting it to review after some time.

How we launched and the hardest part of business

After having built this 'system' and testing it on my partner's Amazon product, we decided that we were ready to launch. We sent out a message offering a life-time -30% deal to our launch list, and some people agreed to test our service and became our first customers.

The hardest part was coming next. We were continually measuring and adjusting our system until it started producing more or less stable results. It was really hard. Here I learned that business is a slow and tedious cycle of doing, measuring how it went, and improving so that it will be better the next time it will be better.

If you skipped the previous paragraph, I will repeat it. I want you to internalize it:

Business is a slow and boring cycle of doing, then measuring how it went, and improving so that it will be better the next time.

Hiring a COO(Chief Operating Officer)

After getting to a more or less stable process, we learned that we were not good at building a stable, repeatable business. It was working okay, but we knew it could work better.

So we hired a guy who eventually became our COO. He was working as a sales rep at the time, and we knew him for 2 years before that, so we could trust him. He agreed to quit his job, and started running our business full-time. We paid him in equity.

And stopped spending our time and switched to strategic planning instead.

Fast forward 2.5 years and the business grew 300% and is bringing a stable 5 figure annual revenue. Yes, not millions, but hey, I personally don't do anything on it. I just show up once a week for a 1-2 hour strategic planning meeting, and that's all. And this is the model I am using when building new businesses.

Takeaways:

  • Everybody can build a business while working full-time.
  • Find a co-founder. Go where startup people hang out(webinars, slack, etc.) and tell everybody that you are looking for a co-founder. Check if you share similar views on the world.
  • Pick a niche where you or your co-founder are an expert.
  • Ask people in your niche what problems they have.
  • Block at least 2 hours every day no matter what and work on your business. Be patient, don't rush. It's a long-term game. Quick money is only on info-products sales pages.
  • Build a list of potential customers and solve a problem that has the most demand
  • Find all the hiccups and glitches in your business and fix them one by one. If you are not good at it - hire someone to do it. You can pay in equity

Want to hear more from me? You can follow me on Twitter as I will continue my journey to financial independence and self-improvement.