How to Create a Business that Prints Money

In this post, I’ll teach you how to create a cash cow business.

“Wait, what’s a cash cow?”

It’s a successful business venture that prints off cash for you. This is something every entrepreneur wants to attain, but very few know how.

“Ya, but doesn’t that take years of working on a business?”

No.  Not if done correctly.

“Okay, I want to create a cash cow. So, how do I do that?”


That’s the end goal for most entrepreneurs. They want to make X amount of money per month, and have it operate relatively passively.

The problem is they have no idea where to start. Or, just as bad—they incorrectly assume they know what they’re doing and spend all their time working on the wrong things.

They assume there is some insanely difficult formula needed to to create a cash cow business. So, they run around working on anything and everything related to their idea, falsely believing they are making great progress just because they’re busy all the time.

People make it more complex than it has to be.

There are only two things you need to create a cash cow.

Step 1: How can you create something of value in a market better than what’s out there?

Step 2: When you do that, how can you reach your potential audience?

“Two steps?  It can’t be that easy”

Yes, it can be. And it is.

Don’t make it harder than it has to be. You are wasting your time if you don’t have these two things— you don’t have a business worth launching.


People are focusing on all the wrong things.

They make a plan based on “what” they want to do, and not “why” they’re doing it.

You need to understand the “why” behind the “what”. A lot of people see someone doing something successfully and they attempt to do the same thing because they want to be successful too. They don’t even understand why it was successful, they focus on “what” the person is doing that’s successful.

They hear of a successful entrepreneur who sold shoelaces and made millions. They think, “ohhh, great idea I will sell shoelaces!”

Selling shoelaces has nothing to do with why the person who made millions at it was successful.

The aspiring entrepreneur needs to understand why they got the results they did. Many people think they can just copy the same idea and have success. But they don’t look at the “why” behind the business’ success. The “why” is going to heavily focus on those 2 steps I mentioned.

“Why did people want to buy those shoelaces so much more than their competitors?”

“Why did that business get all that traffic, but not their competitor?”

“What did they do differently to get their shoelaces in front of so many people?”

“They’re both offering a similar product, why is this one making 10 times as much”

These are questions copycat entrepreneurs forget to ask. They just see someone making a lot of money at something and attempt to replicate it. They assume they’ll just magically replicate their success as well.

That’s not how it works.

A successful entrepreneur will be able to look into the business that made millions in the shoelace market, and find out how they differentiated themselves to create success in that market, and how they could implement the same ideas in a completely different market and achieve success.

Important: Solve step 1 before you solve step 2. There is no point is knowing how to reach a market if you don’t have something worth reaching them with. Focus all of your efforts on solving step 1 first.

A lot of times Step 1 and 2 will go hand in hand. If your product or service is extremely valuable to people, you’ll get a lot of word of mouth marketing.

If it’s similar to what’s already on the market with no additional value, you have a 0% chance of getting great word of mouth marketing, because you just have a random product you’re trying to sell.

Copycat entrepreneurs who create ‘me too’ businesses don’t understand this, and are always perplexed as to why their bank account isn’t filling up. It’s because they’re not offering anything of value above the person who’s already doing it. Why would anyone want to talk about that business? They wouldn’t. What would there be for people to talk about?

Step 1 can help solve step 2 for you, but step 2 cannot help solve step 1. When people get great value, they want to talk about it.  This will substantially compound your marketing efforts.


Even some extremely well funded startups drop the ball here. Some spend millions of dollars trying to achieve #2, when they haven’t figured out #1 yet. These companies go out of business.  It’s too easy to predict failure with some of them— I’m often baffled when I hear of a company that hasn’t figured out step 1 yet getting huge amounts of start up capital.

A year later:

“We’re going to raise another round because we haven’t gained traction yet”

You’re not bleeding money because of “traction”, you’re bleeding money because you haven’t figured out step 1. Throwing a bunch more money at it doesn’t solve step 1.

“We were the 4th best business in the space, I have no idea why we failed!”

Why would someone sign up to anything that’s the 4th best? If there’s nothing unique about their product/service that adds more value than what the competitors are offering, you’re destined for failure. You never solved step 1.

Many people are going into a certain market because of the size and potential of the market. If a market is huge, with growing potential, of course it’s a good spot to be in. However, that shouldn’t be the decider of what market you choose. The value you can bring to that market should be.

“Ya, but the market is so big, even if we only got 1% of the market we’d be huge. That’s like 10,000 sales. We could make millions!”

When pressed on why people would buy from them:

“Well, even if we didn’t get that many— just 1,000 sales would be great money for me.”

Who cares what it would do for you.

This type of thought process is rampant among aspiring entrepreneurs. They think backwards. You can’t go into a business thinking about what it’s going to do for you. First you need to figure out what it’s going to do for your potential customers. If after your due diligence you decide the demand will be there for what you have in mind, then you can figure out how you’re going to make those sales. Then you can start having fun calculating the potential profits your business venture could make.

Everything else is Noise

A lot of people are constantly asking “noise” questions instead of questions that will help them become a better entrepreneur.

Example: “How can I convince people to buy this?”

If you have to trick people into thinking they should buy your product you don’t have a product that they should be buying.

Most people spend all their time convincing people they need to buy their shit, rather than creating something no one would need convincing to buy.

  • Designing pages they think will convert
  • Building an email list
  • Copywriting
  • Spamming social media

  • Noise
  • Noise
  • Noise
  • Noise

If you don’t have step 1 and 2 completed, you shouldn’t be wasting time on noise. Go back to the drawing board until 1 and 2 are completed.

“But what about this awesome landing page I worked all week on?”

Scrap that shit and stay off warrior forum.

Build real shit.

I’m not saying it’s bad to learn how to build an email list, or write copy, etc… It’s not.

However, these are things that you work on AFTER you’ve solved the 2 steps. They help improve your cash cow, they don’t make it.

Many people launch their “businesses” without these two steps solved—usually with neither solved— and spend all their time trying to force their products/services on people. What they should be doing is going back to the drawing board and starting over until they have something with those 2 steps figured out.

That’s why blogs suck. The blogging industry is built on noise tactics. Bloggers wonder why they and their audience never become successful. It’s because they never solve steps 1 and 2.

“Today I’m going to teach you 7 ways to get better at (insert random noise tactic)”-standard blogger

Wow, can’t wait. More irrelevant content.

The shit is irrelevant unless you solve the 2 steps.

Their audience is looking for food, and they’re spending all their time telling them how they could theoretically use a fork and knife. Problem is, their plate is empty. No matter how great they become with their utensils, it won’t matter.  They’re still going to starve.

Is your product more valuable than anything else in the space? Have you figured out how you’ll reach your market? Two simple questions. If you can’t answer “yes” to both of them, you don’t have something worth pursuing yet.

Solve them first—don’t work upside down.

“Okay, but how do I figure out these two things? That seems hard”

It’s not. I’ll take you through it.

Due Diligence

Most people are NOT doing due diligence. Some are doing what they think is due diligence, but it’s usually just an extremely weak attempt at it.

This sets up a very low success rate on attempted business ventures. People who have success often do a RIDICULOUS amount of due diligence.

A newbie’s version of due diligence: posting on an internet forum asking people if they should try their idea out.

A successful entrepreneur’s version of due diligence: reviewing all their potential competition, and talking to anyone and everyone in the space to learn all they can.  This gives them the information they need to know if they can solve steps 1 and 2 in that niche.

Don’t just ask a couple people if you should do it. Really dig in and find out what you need to know that will get you to a “yes” for your questions, so you know that it’ll be worth your time. If you information that leads you to a “no”, that’s good too. This is NOT a bad thing. Finding out that you can’t solve steps 1 and 2 for a certain market is a great thing. You might save months, or even years of your time because you spent time on the due diligence that someone else would have skipped, wasting a chunk of their life grinding away on something that there wasn’t a big enough need for.

When I’m looking into something, I’ll read every article/post I can find that I think is relevant. I’ll reach out to as many people who seem to know what they’re doing in that niche as possible. I’ll know my potential competition in and out. I’ll figure out exactly what my costs will be, along with some napkin math on how much potential profit I think there is to be had.

The difference is I know what I’m looking for. Others will read the same articles, and think— “wow this industry seems like it’s booming, I should jump in”. I’m just looking to solve my 2 questions. That’s it.

Others don’t know what they’re trying to solve, so even if they do what they think is due diligence, they aren’t answering the right questions for themselves. So, it ends up being pretty pointless.

“Ya but this market is going to be HUGE in the next few years. it’s expected to grow over 20% a year for the next 5 years!”

Even if it grows 10,000% in the next few years, if you haven’t solved steps 1 and 2, you have NOTHING.

You need to do the type of due diligence that answers your 2 questions.

Maybe you answer “yes” to both questions, but you find out from your due diligence that you won’t make quite the money you’d like to earn even if it’s successful. Perfect. On to the next opportunity. Proper due diligence saved you a lot of time.

Time is money. Use it wisely.

Answer the right questions, and move on.

A side benefit to doing good due diligence—sometimes you find an even better opportunity in the space because of the information your due diligence uncovers.

I’ve talked to a number of people about a new business I’m working on, and have found multiple opportunities in the space I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Unless you’re ‘in the game’, or at least talking to those who are, you’ll never discover most of the opportunities. Read. Talk to people. Ask questions. Good things will happen.

I think many aspiring entrepreneurs don’t hear much about due diligence. Part of the reason is, people never talk about opportunities that never happened. When someone starts a company and people see them doing well they think, “man, they’re lucky.” If you look into a lot of opportunities, most may not end up being worth pursuing. However, if you didn’t look into them, you’ll miss the one where you’d get “lucky”.

Successful entrepreneurs who seem to have success after success aren’t getting lucky. They’re passing up the ones that would have failed with proper due diligence.

I do due diligence on the front end. Most aspiring entrepreneurs tend to do it on the back end, once they launch. Clearly not a very efficient use of time.  I can spend a little time on the front end, and quickly decide whether or not I can solve my 2 steps. Others spend a bunch of time launching something and they don’t have what the market needs/wants.  They waste crazy amounts of time going through all sorts of useless steps— launching the business, spending futile time attempting to market their shit that no one wants, etc… They consider THAT their due diligence. In the time it takes them, I could have done due diligence on 100 ideas. They’ve done it on one.

They murdered their most precious asset—time, by not doing it on the front end.

“Ya, but what about a MVP—Minimum Viable Product?”

MVP is heavily marketed/overhyped right now. There are many instances where you would definitely NOT want to launch a minimum viable product. Don’t just do things because a few books say to, and then blindly follow the advice as everyone hypes it. I will cover this more in a future post, but think about WHY you’re doing something. Many times, MVP is definitely NOT what you want to be doing. Most of the businesses I look into I would NOT launch with a minimum viable product.

Do Something You Enjoy

No, I don’t mean find your passion and do that. If your passion solves #1 and 2 and it can make you the amount of money you want to make, that’s awesome, go for it. However, leading with passion is often why most newbie entrepreneurs fail.

“But my favorite blogger said all I had to do was follow my passion and the money would follow!”

Your favorite blogger is probably broke.

When I say do something you enjoy, I mean just that- you need to enjoy it. I don’t mean follow your passion without being able to solve steps 1 and 2. Maybe you are a weird dude and your passion is counting dust. There’s not going to be a great business opportunity in that space.

You could even consider this a third step—is there enough money in the niche to make you satisfied? Most of the time you won’t really know how much income potential there is until you’ve completed your due diligence phase. However, keep this in mind—this may just give you a tiny glimpse of the true potential in the niche.

Many people give up way too early. I have a friend who stresses this all the time. He’s had multiple projects that have grown into pretty substantial businesses. Both looked like extremely tiny niches when he first got in. However, the deeper he got in the niche, the more and more opportunity he realized there was. He would have never seen them if he wasn’t ‘in the game.’ The further into the game you get, the more you’ll find out about opportunities that people outside of the game will never have access to.  He enjoyed working on these businesses and went in with conservative goals based on his due diligence.  Because he enjoyed working on them, he went way further than most others would have with them.  If he didn’t enjoy them, he would have given up on them before they hit a tipping point.

Use your due diligence to set conservative income goals based on what the potential looks like.  If this number gets you interested enough to continue, just know there’s a good chance the potential could be higher than you realize.

Let’s sum it up:

Follow the 2 steps.

If you can answer “yes” to both, do you have something you think you’ll enjoy, and can make an amount of money that may be interesting to you?

Cool. Jump in.

“Ya, but there’s so many competitors what if I fail?”

What if you don’t?

That’s the whole purpose of completing those 2 steps. If you’re answering them honestly with yourself, and have put in the work on the front end with due diligence that needed to be done, what you’re creating should be superior in one way or another to what’s out there.  When you combine that with your marketing strategy you figured out in step 2, you will achieve success.

If you fail, you probably didn’t answer the questions correctly when you started.

If you don’t fail, you change your life.

Easy enough?

Now go create a cash cow.

109 Responses to “How to Create a Business that Prints Money”

  1. Sean

    Love your articles. Keep em coming! 😉

    • Billy

      Thanks Sean

      • Donna

        I saw your interview on the eventual millionaire on YouTube. When I clicked on the link that you provided at the end, it was no longer there can you please re-post a link that will work so that I can download the worksheets that you mentioned?

  2. grumpygradyate

    yet again, top draw tackle…

  3. Chris Waldron

    I think a lot of people misconstrue the challenges of business and end up just creating a job. Even if you are pulling tons of cash out, that doesn’t mean you are net positive, and if you are working all day everyday for that money, you are missing the mark.

    This is a great in depth point about creating value in the market place vs pushing shit around and creating noise like you mentioned! You don’t get into business just because you don’t like your job or you think it’s cool, you get into it to provide the world with something valuable, whether it be unique or better than existing!

    Great explanation Billy.

    • Billy

      Thanks Chris.

      I’ll have a post coming up sometime in the future about how to avoid your business turning into a job.

  4. Austin

    Excellent post Billy and I most definitely agree.

    I believe the most valuable marketing is the marketing that one’s followers/customers do through their own social networks. We naturally place much more faith in our close friends than we would in somebody we only know over the internet.

    This mistake is what makes succeeding so difficult to some. However, they don’t realize that they have embarked on an infinite, steep uphill battle from the very beginning. Forcing one’s products/services on an audience is the surest way to struggle.

    I much prefer to ride a roller coaster. By that I mean slowly inching up towards the first huge drop by diligently creating something of value that the ideal market is thirsty for. Once I reach the top of that first hill (value creation and initial delivery completed) I tip over the side and things pick up speed very, very quickly. Instead of eternally struggling up the hill, I’m easily and quickly gliding straight down a hill.

    Keep up the good work my friend, I enjoy what you have to say.

    Enjoy your day.

  5. Eric

    Great post Billy,

    You definitely drilled the simplicity home. Everything else is noise that needs to be flushed out. Keep it up!

  6. Mats

    Thanks for another great post! You e plain it well and in dept. I like it. 2 steps. Nothing more.

    Been bad at due diligence myself on many projects, ended up small or gone.


  7. Joe

    WOW! How many words was that? 15k? 🙂

    Thanks for this post Billy.
    I have to say that I was thinking about step 2 just yesterday.

    Unfortunately I haven’t been wise enough to answer the two questions before starting my blog and this was a mistake but I found myself answering them recently, when I swapped from a large wide niche to a very narrow one (inside the big one).

    I know in this narrow niche there’s a lot of competition but I also noticed that much of the information they sell is generic, not up to date and difficult to apply.

    I figured out that I could really master this niche (since it’s small and I enjoy it – not passion, not anymore, I wasted too much time on “passion ventures” before) and I’m about to finish my first book today which really offer something unique in the market.

    I’m not worried about the value I’m offering but about the traffic.
    Even though I had planned to reach my audience by syndicating my articles, I’m now realizing that no one is doing that in my niche, so maybe there is no way to market my articles that way.
    So now I need to find a better answer to the second question!

    Most of my competitors get their traffic by spamming forums with affiliate links and youtube with super hyped spammy videos and I would rather not to throw myself in that shit.

    What are some ways to reach “the potential audience” you would suggest me to look into?

    P.S. You know the two questions? I would put them in bold or something, I got lost in your post a couple of times trying to find them!


    • Billy

      Bolded them, thanks for the suggestion Joe!

      Competitive niches are sometimes the easiest to break into, because often people are fighting over the same piece of the pie, instead of doing something different that the market needs but may not have yet.

      Ways to reach the audience—find out how others are reaching it. Why are they doing it that way? Is it working? If not, why? Why aren’t they doing X, Y or Z? etc..

      • Joe

        Hey Billy thanks for your reply!
        When you say:
        “instead of doing something “different” that the market “needs” but may not have yet”

        What do you mean by doing something different? Different in ways to reach the audience (step 2) or different in the product (step 1)?


        what do you mean by the market needs?

        Do you mean what people in that market really need? Or what people in that market would “most likely” buy?

        I love your posts and I find them very useful, also I like that you don’t take anything for granted, and that’s great for me, because as you see from my questions in this comment, I’m learning the principles of making money from scratch and can’t afford to skip any foundation 🙂


  8. Joona

    Another great article Billy. I agree 100% with pretty much everything you wrote. Yet again.

    You didn’t use the word “impact” in your article, but if I would need to summarize it somehow with only one word, that would be it. Go for markets where you can have an impact.

    Looking forward to your future posts as well.

  9. Tom

    This is mutha fuckin gold, so many wantrepreneurs doing BS to look busy (creating biz cards, setting up LLCs, creating flyers, etc) before even asking 1 client if they would pay for their shit..

    Good job man, keep up the good work..and blog more (my plate is now empty after reading this).

  10. Graham Rowe

    I swear to God I started to do this after the post on diworsification. The deal with the dude fell through, but I’m not disappointed at all; I’ve been doing research for an ecommerce store…the kind of research I’ve never done before, asking myself the kind of questions I’d never asked…the kinds of questions you spoke about in this post.

    I cannot tell you how reassuring it is to read this right now, considering I was just drilling down to ‘what really matters’ in my own mind, without directly being told do x, y or z.

    You are going to make a lot of people rich Billy, a lot of people.


    • Billy

      I hope so Graham 🙂

      • Graham Rowe


        From your experience, can presentation of information [or just presentation] be enough of a competitive advantage to make you the best product in a market?

        Say for example there are a number of online shampoo retailers that discuss a wide variety of hair related topics in addition to selling shampoo. Let’s also say that shampoo customers read and made purchase decisions based off this information. You realize that the way the information is being fed to the consumer makes it very inconvenient for them to make simple purchasing decisions.

        Now your strategy is to gain an advantage through the presentation of this information and how easy you make it for people to purchase shampoo from your site. The information itself wouldn’t be leagues better that the competitors, it would basically be on par; but you saw that they have a very poor way of communicating this information.
        Would you consider this viable as a competitive strategy if executed correctly?

        Or do you mean the product itself has to be much more outstanding?

        ps. don’t worry, I’m not selling nor planning to sell shampoo online

  11. Marc

    So you’re saying that if my passion is collecting paperclips I shouldn’t start a paperclip business?
    hmmmm… might be onto something

  12. Jenda

    Hi Billy,

    awesome article as always!


  13. Isaiah Coe


    A friend recommend your blog to me and I’m looking what I’m seeing.

    Great read 🙂

  14. Alfred van Kuik

    Brilliant article! Always nice to see I’m on the right track. I answered both these questions with a very convincing ‘yes’, but this got me rethinking that. I could hardly finish reading because I wanted to go research stuff and find out if I was right about the ‘yes’.

    Also, great to finally see some proper perspective to the whole MVP thing. Was getting a little tired of it lately. I might be a inexperienced first-time wantrepreneur, but even I can see that launching an MVP is not at all the right way to go for every project. If you do proper research, there’s a lot less need for an MVP, right? I mean; you would already know what your target audience wants, and you can try and deliver as closely to their desires as possible. I want to deliver a maximum viable product, as in a product that is as good as it can be from what I can gather in data beforehand. Not perfect, but not complete crap either. Nothing wrong with the Lean Startup, but people tend to just repeat the book without properly looking at the situation at hand.

    Anyway, thanks for the post. Gonna do some research while I should be sleeping now 🙂

    • Billy

      You’re spot on. If you do proper research, there’s a lot less need for a minimum viable product. Most people who launch them aren’t sure about steps 1 or 2, so they launch a MVP to test their idea out. Often they’re launching a piece of junk so it’s not really a good test anyways. Sometimes doing a MVP is a great idea. Often, it’s not.

  15. Ursa

    Awesome post, Billy! Thanks!

  16. Anne Chang

    Billy, loved your post. It’s all about mastering the basics. I need to do some more due diligence. Thanks for giving me something to think about!

    • Billy

      Thanks Anne, great seeing you last week! Looks like I’m headed to China btw, I forget— you guys definitely heading out?

  17. Ricky

    Thanks Bill for the post. Now, your blog is one of the most favorite on my list. It’s good to learn a lot of things from you. Simply amazing

  18. Sam

    Great post.

    I recently spent 20 mins picking the brain of a potential target customer and got a great value-add idea for phase 2 of my project.

    But, after your article, I also realized that there is a lot more due diligence I should be doing vs. worrying about copy (which is what im doing now).

    Thanks, I have bookmarked your blog and will be a regular!


  19. Meddy

    Great info Billy, I have actually stopped working on my ecommerce to answer those two questions. Great to have someone confirm its the right course. I really enjoy your post keep them coming no BS to the point . Thanks again

    • Billy

      Thanks Meddy. How long have you owned your e-commerce store? Any success so far?

      • meddy

        I’m actually starting out, just finishing my first month.
        I have not sold anything yet, its a brand new website so i’m still working on getting more content and back links to get ranked for my keywords.

        If you have any advice, recommendations I would appreciate it.


  20. vijay

    Awesome post, to be frank, I started a business 5 months before after leaving my 11 year MNC career and started a pay per call business without doing the 2 steps, I started this business because of one person was so success in this business (he has 2000 websites based on pay per call), now i am really thinking to start from fresh and re-assess the market, but Billy I have question here, My business is only based on SEO, if my website is no.1 in google for a keyword, i would be the leader in that market, so here how do you think I can assess? We are doing many steps to bring our websites to no.1 (the same old backlink shits…)

    • Billy

      It’s not wrong to chase things from an SEO perspective. If it’s +EV for you, it’s okay. However, you don’t control your business in that case. Google does. If you’re okay with that, that’s okay. I started my e-commerce business with a heavy focus on SEO because it was very +EV and I did it based on math formulas. Maybe you will create a cash cow going after SEO, but one day Google could decide to take your cash cow away. You’ll have to go create another one. It’s not wrong to still do it. You just have to decide what’s best for you.

  21. Nathan Williams

    Another great article. Quickly becoming a big fan of this blog. Have it bookmarked for my next big project.

  22. Harrison Li

    Hey… Billy,

    I haven’t personally commented on a blog for almost two years, because most posts are just not too worthy enough for the feedback.

    But, this article you wrote here… is EFFING USEFUL, I’m being very honest here, it’s the most valuable advice a start-up person would ever need.

    Thanks so much for educating me.

    • Billy

      Wow, honored to get your once every 2 year comment 🙂

      Thanks a lot for the kind words Harrison.

  23. Christine

    I was referred to your blog while compiling a list of resources for entrepreneurs, and I’m very impressed!

    Please post more often, your content is amazing.

    Thank you,


  24. Rafal Dudek

    Awesome article as always! Keep up the good work. Always looking forward to new stuff posted by you 🙂

    One thing if you could touch on is a service comparison. Like, should entrepreneurs offer a free ad-sponsored services or subscription services?

    • Billy

      Thanks Rafal.

      What do you mean by free ads vs. subscription? What business?

      • Rafal Dudek

        Hey Billy,

        Lets say you want to create a website full of useful content. Would you go with a paid subscription route so people pay to access it, or would you go with a free site for everyone, but plastered with ads?

    • Billy

      Rafal, your question is very broad. So, it depends.

      You will usually make much more money if you create your own product though.

  25. Andy

    Hey, i have an interesting question, i am not sure how you will respond to it.

    I am an iGaming affiliate, specifically bingo. And i make good money, or atleast decent money, low 5-figures a month profit.

    Anyway, the only thing better i do that my competition is all of the noise.

    I am better at SEO, i am better at monetization, i am better at building a list. In short, my edge is that i am personally better and i invest my money more intelligently than my competition.

    Are you telling me what i am doing is wrong? Because, i enjoy my job and i make good money running my business. TBH as an affiliate there are very little ways to differentiate yourself from the competition other than doing the things i am doing better than my competition.

    One day i want to set up a skin or an actual bingo room. Then i can have an input and create something better than everyone else. Apart from that though, i am quite limited.



    • Billy

      Hey Andy,

      Nothing wrong with that at all. You can build capital up and whenever you decide to start a company you’ll have plenty of ammo to go in with.

      I played poker early on to build capital up.

      Are there more optimal ways to make money than being an affiliate or being a poker player— yes.

      If what you’re doing is helping you build capital, it’s not a bad thing.

      If you were an average level affiliate, I’d say definitely just focus on learning instead. If you’re making 5 figures/month just make sure you’re banking it so whenever you have a big project you want to work on, you can spend all your time building the product/service you can, and not have to worry about money while getting it started.

  26. Justin Mares

    Fantastic post. Just curious – where did you learn how to think about opportunities and business in this way?

    Not just in this post, but from everything of yours I’ve read you have a very no-BS way of looking at business. Would be interested in learning where you honed your thinking, or who influenced you.

    • Billy

      I asked a lot of stupid questions. Then I learned from them and asked more stupid questions. Then one day I realized my questions weren’t stupid anymore. I read a lot, and did what people who knew more than I did suggested I do. I think most people get advice and then don’t do much with it. I did, so I learned a lot from asking them. Each time I’d ask more questions I’d be at another stage of learning. The answers would allow me to go learn more based on what they were, and I’d go back with slightly higher level questions the next time. I asked questions of anyone/everyone. After a while of doing it I realized I got better and better at recognizing who knew what they were talking about. Almost 100% of people will give you an answer, even if they don’t know the answer. So, learning who to take advice from is a skill that you really only learn from practice.(kind of a tangent, but extremely important I think) In short, I asked tons of questions and followed through on what I’d learn, and slowly learned what worked and what didn’t. Doing this made me realize most people think about things incorrectly. Most people are just repeating other incorrect things they hear but they want to seem like they have the answer.

    • Billy

      To add to that— I think most people don’t question things enough. I don’t know why I did, but I always questions why things were. Teachers, parents, etc… A lot of things never made sense to me, so I questioned them. There’s a lot of ‘guru’ people saying things that no one is questioning. Some is horrible advice. Because I’m used to reading/asking so many questions, it’s gotten very easy for me to see when someone does/doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

      If you read most blogs, it’s: fluff, fluff, hype, fluff, buy my ebook, fluff, hype, fluff, subscribe to my list, end post. it’s strange to me that no one notices they’re not saying anything valuable, but it would be strange to their audience if anyone ever questioned them, because they don’t have experience looking in things in any way other than how they’re told to look at them. because of the perceived authority of who they’re listening to, they just take it as fact, even though it borders on fiction much of the time.

      don’t know if this is helpful/answers your question

  27. Tim Hague

    Wow thanks Billy, you are really helping the fog clear for me in this game. I’ve been knee deep in noise for way too long. I cannot wait for your next post. Thanks so much for sharing and truly trying to help people.
    Best regards,

  28. Wade

    I’m not saying it’s bad to learn how to build an email list, or write copy, etc… It’s not.

    However, these are things that you work on AFTER you’ve solved the 2 steps. They help improve your cash cow, they don’t make it.

    Awesome!! My favorite part right here!!

    • Billy

      Awesome Wade— I love it when people let me know which parts help them the most. Thanks!

  29. Ian

    Great article, Billy.
    Been working on an e-mail blogging project for the last month.
    Did this because information within the niche is scattered and out of date.

    Are there questions I could ask myself to add further value to my content through differentiating it from my competition?

    PS: My niche is very crowded.

    • Billy

      Of course. What do you have so far?

      • Ian

        My niche would be chicken farming. I looked through Delicious, popular blogs and websites , Youtube, forums , Facebook groups and Amazon.
        What would set me apart from others in the space was that I would have all the relevant information for the farmer. My plan is to send a series of e-mails with useful practical information in one place and indexed properly. This would build a connection between us and then I could sell them informational products.
        However,Google would not be my main source of traffic so I would focus on tactics like guest posts to get the word out.
        Due to my research , I already have a list of topics that pose problems to the chicken farmers and have written up all the e-mails. I am now working on the paid material.

      • Billy

        Have you talked to them to make sure what you’ve found is what they need most? Are you the best person to teach them about this? If so, seems like you’re on the right path.

  30. Steven

    Thanks for writing this post, really clarifies what I believe I’m doing correctly. Been following your blog for a while and everything you have written has been gold. But this post really on point for me.
    “A side benefit to doing good due diligence—sometimes you find an even better opportunity in the space because of the information your due diligence uncovers.”
    I just experienced this recently. I reached out to a market in the medical space to find the pain, and got myself in contact with a director that gave me a tour of his facilities. Found out about a pain that I would have never thought of. Now I’m doing even more due diligence in this area to really understand the process and see if I can create a simple software solution for it. My steps are gonna be to find the pain, validate it with others in the market, work with them to think of a software solution for it, pre-sell it, develop the software, and earn recurring revenue by marketing it and selling to industry on a monthly subscription. I think in this situation an MVP would work because I will understand the pain so well that I can get something made that will be viable but still be light on features and fancy stuff. That’s my millionaire fastlane road map lol. What do you think?

  31. Randy

    Good stuff billy, keep it coming my man

  32. Chris

    Great post Billy. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

  33. Stu


    This blog is full of gems. Valuable, shiny gems!

    Love how you break down the importance of providing value and reaching your audience. Will you be going a little deeper into how you measure these metrics, determine numbers, and number crunch EV in the future? I would love to learn more.

    Looking forward to your updates.

    • Billy

      Thanks Stu!

      Yes, I’ve been meaning to write an EV post for a long time now. It’s on the list, just haven’t written it yet. It’s definitely coming.

  34. Alexander

    Hey Billy —

    Awesome article man. Quick question: How do you differentiate between what people say they want (which is not always what they’ll pay for), and what they really want?

    Just survey the existing industry to see what people are buying already? And then figure out where you can position yourself differently in there?

    Thanks man !

    • Billy

      Steve Jobs was the best at this. He didn’t care what people said they wanted, because he could envision things they’d want more, if they existed…so he created them. Clearly there’s not many people like Steve Jobs. Elon Musk is another example.

      Look at things they did. Try to think like that in the spaces you are looking at. Think, “what would people want if nothing was impossible”. Then you’ll start thinking in a different way.

      What do people need?… Why isn’t it solved?… How can I help them?… There are options trying to help them, but failing…why are they failing? Keep asking these questions, and don’t think inside a box, and you may think of something amazing.

      There’s nothing wrong with thinking on a smaller scale too. If people need X, and they already can get it from a current business, is there a way you can give it to them better than they are doing it? If so, do it— they’ve proved the model for you.

  35. CEBenz

    Hey Billy, loving your blog! Working on my second ecommerce site now. First one was rich in learning but lean in traction so I went back to the drawing

    Hope to catch you at B&P sometime!


    • Billy

      Thanks CEBenz! Awesome, would love to hear how it goes.

      Learning is > than money in the short term. Knowledge compounds quickly.

  36. CEBenz

    Board* sorry, didn’t see an edit function.

  37. McNandez

    Thanks so much for posting this. This part in particular called me out on my own wheel-spinning:

    “A newbie’s version of due diligence: posting on an internet forum asking people if they should try their idea out.”

    eep. :p

    I’m actually excited to do my due diligence, but seeing that on your post reminded me not to get too comfortable hanging out on forums!

  38. Jan

    I recently read about ads on toilet paper. Man, I was impressed so I wanted to make it in my country. First off – who can print on toilet paper? Phone list -> NO ONE can! Not one (except one company with 2mln pieces at minimum order)! So if no one in country can do this then seemingly no one is. I thought “Jeez, then I must get such a machine!” and be to only one on the market. Tomorrow I will call through companies who wants free toilet paper for their company.

    What do You think about that idea?

    • Chris

      Does the ink rub off on your ass?

      • Jan

        Does it when You do it with another white toilet paper (white is not natural color, not to mention other colors)?

      • Sam

        It might work but what kind of product should be advertised there? Stomach congestion pill? lol.

  39. Chris

    I don’t think it does but then again my ass is fairly white :D. Your right though, white is not the natural color for paper and pulp products. Sell some space on a roll and print it out. Only way to know is to test a few rolls out; the hesitation may be on the sales side not on the user side.

    • Jan

      Yeah, but the challenge is here: no one prints it in my country. With selling here won’t be any problem. It will be distributed for free. Ad will be paid. It’s a great win-win situation.

  40. The Mad Webmaster

    Hey Billy,

    We’ve got a lot in common my man.

    First, a past love of poker.
    Second, a no B.S. attitude for this online stuff.

    Keep up the great work and tell it like it is. It’s refreshing to see there is no hype in your marketing. Congrats.

    All the best,
    The Mad Webmaster

  41. Chris

    What country Jan? What do you need to print it with exactly? Buy a roll or case from the company who does sell it now even if its overseas for a prototype and use the example to get orders. Then if your getting orders you can move on to the next step.

  42. Iurij

    Biily, what’s up

    This article was a good kick, TY
    Looking forward for new stuff, don’t stop man!

  43. Jonathan Han

    Great article Billy!

    I’m a big fan on your content. Value indeed matters and the idea of what the business can do for others is key in creating a following. Definitely love the content entrepreneurs like you, Noah Kagan, Gary V, and others put out, all the info validates each other and makes a whole lot of sense. Really looking forward to your next article!

    Quick question regarding this article. I just started a project in which I can answer question 1 but not 2 because this type of product has never been created before. I’ve been told that if it’s excellent then people will naturally come and marketing will be easy but i don’t believe that is always the case. It a type of product that can provide a great solution to people and change the way they do certain things. But the difficult part is attempting to break through and allow people to naturally create a habitual use of a product type that they never experienced before. There are no other competitors to evaluate how they broke into the market.



  44. Boy Toy

    Hey Billy, I like your focus on providing actual VALUE instead of just marketing some bullshit to make money. In a lot of areas of life, people dont seem to realize that you need to build something of quality before you present it to other people. And besides, I’d rather make $2000 a month offering real value, than making $4000 selling bullshit.
    You just got yourself another subscriber.

  45. Vito

    Thank you for a great article, How can I achieve step 1. when drop shipping a product. ? If my product is the same as all other products in the market space and I can’t compete on price, what are my options for adding value? Thank you again for your valuable and unique prospective.

  46. John

    Great article.

    Follow the 2 steps (can you create something of VALUE + reach your market with the product/service).

    Do your due diligence (join forums/ask questions/do research).

    Is it something you would enjoy and is there enough money in that market?


    I think another thing to consider is IF you can create something unique and of VALUE and reach your customers…. where would you stand if competitors duplicated it (i.e me 2 entrepreneurs or even established competitors copied your unique VALUE ), is there a barrier that would stop them from copying your unique added value?

  47. Omar

    Hey billy, Can you go more into depth on doing the “due diligence”? How many people do you need to talk to in the space before you have a more accurate picture to solve step 1 and 2? How can you get the info you need. I found that jumping in online forums can be helpful but tough to get the big picture.

    Intriguing article.

  48. Caroline

    Wow that was the first truly honest, no-fluff, no bs article I’ve ever read (oh and I’ve read a lot)! Thank you! I’ve only ever been advise to up my noise tactics and it intuitively seemed an uncomfortable waste of time for me. Thank you for making crystal clear in a few paragraphs the essence of the matter. You’ve just condensed a labyrinth of knowledge and lies into a sussinct eye-opening informative guide. Thanks again and I look forward to more.

  49. Val


    This was a great post – your best and most thoughtful.

    I have a business idea, but have been apprehensive about launching. After reading this post, I have nailed down the reason – it’s not having clear definition around #1.

    Having said, although I largely agree, it’s reasonable to expect that even with the simple outlined two-step process, most entrepreneurs will become paralyzed while attempting to figure out #1 so much so that they would not launch their idea into the market (Case in point).

    Remember, most of the great web based companies (Google, Facebook, Amazon, et al) were not original ideas that filled a particular need when they first entered the market, but became relevant over time. Having VC funding expands the runway allowing time to tinker and find an actual model, but a true startup (One in which an entrepreneur must actually sell something for their livelihood), fast decisions and fast execution are required.

    For the case of an MVP – I somewhat disagree. Most entrepreneurs, “Learning while doing” – not by creating a plan or defining a “Why”, as the plan typically does not flow exactly as intended.

    Some level of pivot is common in almost every company. So, I would encourage other entrepreneurs to move forward with a minimum viable product, if that is the catalyst to start, but expect to regularly adjust, modify or even scrap when necessary.

  50. Octavius

    So simple yet so profound. You have changed the way I approach creating business products in the future. Thanks.

  51. Bizz

    It always amazes me that due diligence is skipped over by anybody trying to do anything worthwhile. Are people scared to ask the tough questions because they might not get the answers they desperately need, or is it simply a laziness factor in many cases?

  52. Mark

    Great post Billy, Though I’m reading this 2 years later, it has come right on time when I am launching my content writing platform.

    Great tips, now I ha e a more clear vision of what I want.


  53. Evan


    Another awesome article, this helped me reconsider projects that I jump into with due diligence.

    I definitely started without Step 1. in my first e-commerce business, and it worked out okay but I never had the right mindset with it of adding value and like you said. I went in backwards.

    Now I’ve reconsidered the whole scheme and I’m selling products that are doing SO much better because I focused on my customer’s needs first, and I knew exactly how to fix their pain points. Also I knew I could leverage massive platforms to get the visibility I needed.

    The two steps have done right by me.

    I will remember them eternally now; thanks a ton!

    – Evan

  54. Carl

    The two steps clarification is brilliant.

    My previous attempt at starting an online business I now realise was doomed to failure from the start, due to having no real knowledge of step #1.

    Feeling empowered by the revelation.

  55. John

    Great post Billy.

    So my question is, how do I find the time to ask questions 1 and 2, when I’m still on the hamster wheel of making money?

    I’ve been able to eek out a living doing copywriting and marketing consulting over the last few years. I’ve made a modest living ($3-4k/mo) and remained debt free, while traveling and having some amazing experiences.

    However, I haven’t built up a nest egg / war chest to invest in new businesses (entirely my fault), and I only make money if I hustle. I’ve built a job. A modestly paid job that comes with a ton of freedom and autonomy (location independence, set my schedule, etc). I’ve even had my share of down months where I can’t afford to take a salary from the “business”.

    Do I

    a) work more hours now to make more money, so I can save up a war chest, so I can one day take time off to invest time and money into a new business based on the ideas in this post (probably within 6 months)


    b) take time off now to build a side business that is more passive and automated, but risk running out of money and having my main source of income die (a few hours a day)

    If I run out of money, I’m out of the game (ie. it’d be time to get a job), so the most logical thing to do seems to be A.

    . .

    Postscript –

    I didn’t realise this until writing, but there’s also option C.

    C) while I don’t watch TV or netflix, nor drink alcohol, and I live in a city with no friends or social network, I do try to spend an hour or two a day making music. I could sacrifice that hour to build a different kind of business. I’d stop investing time in music (something that I’d like to turn into a career one day), but I’d start building an automated business on the side.

    Option C sounds like a decent option, though it would mean my life is literally –

    work on business #1 (manual style)
    work on business #2 (automated style)

    No hobbies. No dating. No lunches or random coffees. No exploring Berlin (where I’m currently based).

  56. Rich Cosh

    Loved the simplicity of this post! Really sums up the success of EVERY business. If your product or service ISNT better than what is already out there, then you are going to struggle in your marketing efforts. On the other hand, if you have a great product but can’t get it in front of an audience then you’ve wasted a lot of time!

    Regardless, start with why. This became very apparent in my own life when I realized I had spent a year building a brand I didn’t give a shit about! Not anymore 🙂

  57. Mo

    You’re a fucking genius; wish I would have read this 5 years ago. But at least I didn’t read it 5 years from now! Thanks.

  58. Aiden

    This is quite possibly the best business advice I have ever read Billy, thank you for being the only one with the guts to tell it like it is, warts and all.

  59. Jon Nastor

    I really dig your distinction between following your passion and doing something you enjoy — it’s subtle yet necessary. Rather than thinking about it like ‘what are my hobbies?’, you can think of it more as ‘what businesses or business models fascinate me?’

    Thanks for the article.

  60. Cobus

    Billy, what would you say are some of the most important systems to get in place when you start out?


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