*This post was written back in 2015 when I first launched my agency, Blue Cliff Media*
I launched my social media agency, Blue Cliff Media in just 7 days. I got the idea from Dan Norris, founder of WP Curve and author the book ‘7 Day Startup: You don’t learn till you launch‘. The book is very similar to the popular Lean Startup and I’d highly recommend.
I picked it up for £2.98 on Kindle and read it within a couple of days. Whilst I was reading it, it really got my brain ticking over. I finished the book and decided that I was going to launch a business in just 7 days. I wanted to document the journey and write about my thoughts and feelings on the process and concept.
This article goes through each day of the 7-Day Startup process. If you’re thinking of starting a business, you’ll hopefully find it valuable 🙂
Day One – Brainstorm Your Startup Ideas
Day one task: Brainstorm a bunch of ideas and evaluate them against the checklist. Choose the idea that stands out as being the best option for you.
The first day of the process is inevitably all about coming up with the business idea you want to pursue. For me, it was a fairly straightforward process. I sat down and thought about what type of business I could set up, using the 9 elements checklist from the book. I looked at the things I knew I was good at and enjoyed doing. I also wanted a business that had a clear path to customers. In the end, I decided to start a social media marketing agency. So, how does the idea stack up against the 7 Day Startup idea checklist?
Enjoyable daily task
Yes. I enjoy using social media and know a lot about how to use it effectively.
Yes. In my previous business, I helped a lot of personal trainers with their marketing and so social media and digital marketing was inevitably involved.
Scalable business model
Yes. We have a simple pricing structure that you can choose from. That keeps it simple for us and for the client. Down the line, I’ll look to build in processes and systems that allow the business to be more scalable. However, in the beginning it’ll be me doing all the client delivery.
Operates profitably without the founder
Another lesson I’ve learnt over the past couple of years is how important it is to work ON the business, as well as IN the business. To start with, the work will be done by either Sam or me, but in the future we will look to take a more strategic approach, whilst we get others to do the actual work.
An asset you can sell
I had never really thought about building an asset that could sell before reading the 7 Day Startup book. The biggest asset the business will have will be the list of paying clients.
Large market potential
Let’s throw out some 2014 stats:
- 46% of web users look towards social media when making a purchase
- 3 in 5 SME’s say they’ve gained new customers using social media
- 67% of Twitter users are far more likely to buy from brands they follow on Twitter
From these alone, you can see how important it is for a business to have a good online presence. Being active and engaging on social media can be the difference between making a sale and not making a sale. But from my experience, I’ve found that so many people struggle with social media, either because it’s too time consuming or because they just don’t understand it. That’s the problem I want to solve.
Tap into pain or pleasure differentiators
Yes. Social media can be a total pain for business owners. On one hand, they know how important it is, yet on the other hand, they just don’t know how to make the most of it. Maybe they don’t have the time to do it, or maybe they think that other things should take priority. Whatever the reason, they just don’t get around to using social media. We’re here to really take that pain away from them. We’re solving a common problem with a very easy and effective solution.
Unique lead generation advantage
We aim to generate most of our leads through content and email marketing, social media advertising and general networking.
Ability to launch quickly
We proved that the business could launch quickly, as we did so in 7 days. We decided on a name, logo, idea in a couple of days. We built the website in a day and we launched it quickly.
End of Day one
That brings me to the end of Day One. As you can see, the business was clearly thought out. It was just a case of getting started on building the business.
Day Two – Defining Your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Day two task: Write down exactly what you will launch on Day 7. What will your customers get, what is included, and what is excluded?
After deciding it was a social media marketing business that we were going to create, I had to define our Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The focus here was to define what is valuable enough for a customer to pay for, but simple enough for us to launch it within a week.
I decided to keep it ultra simple. Our main service offering is going to be social media management, where we manage the social accounts for our clients.
I’ll be doing all the client delivery work myself, but as the business grows, I’ll look to take a step back from the client delivery, whilst I hire others to do the client work. The product we are offering now is identical to what it will look like in the future. The only difference is we might have different people doing different things behind the scenes, as we grow. For our customers though, they’ll receive the same flawless service.
End of Day two
That sums up our Day two. We have our MVP!
Day Three – Coming Up With Business Name
Day three task: Come up with a bunch of potential business names and evaluate them against the criteria. Choose which one makes the most sense to you and run with it. Grab the best domain you can for that name.
The criteria mentioned above is the following:
Is it taken?
This is an interesting one. We were originally called Adworthy, which turned out to be taken by a company in the USA. We changed the name a few months after launching to Blue Cliff Media.
Is it simple?
Blue Cliff Media, I believe so!
I think so!
Do you like it?
I do really like it. It has a story behind it as well which I like.
Is it sensible?
I don’t see why not!
Is it broad?
Yes. This is a big one for me. Businesses can change markets and change products and services over time and so it makes sense to have a business name that’s not too specific. For example, Wrigley’s started by selling baking powder and soaps. They used chewing gum to entice their customers, but in the end, the customers didn’t care about the baking soda, all the wanted was the gum!
End of Day three
That sums up our thought process for choosing the name Blue Cliff Media. We have our name. We also purchased the domain name: bluecliffmedia.com.
Day Four – Build Your New Business Website
Day four task: Build yourself a website! (For under $100)
Similar with the MVP, day four was all about setting up a website that looks good and shows people what we do, but simple enough for me to finish within the day. After buying the domain name, I installed WordPress onto my site. I then installed my favourite theme ‘Divi‘. I got the built and set up within a few hours.
Coming soon page
Once I had created the main website, I set up a ‘coming soon’ page, using a WordPress plugin called ‘WP Maintenance mode‘. Again, it was really simple, and it allowed me to add an email sign up form. This meant I was able to start signing people up to our mailing list straight away. The page looked like this (bear in mind we were originally called Adworthy):
I wasn’t sure what payment system to use on the site, but I eventually settled on Paypal, solely because it’s mega easy to set up and almost everyone uses it! Although I will move to Stripe when I have more time to work on the site.
End of Day four
And that was Day four. I built the website, keeping it as simple as I could. As time goes on, we’ll tweak the website, but the hard work is done. I must have only spent a few hours on the site. The total cost of the website came in at £37.99. That was the cost for the (quarterly) hosting and domain name. Success! I managed to build a website for under $100 in a day! For me, once the website was up, it felt like it was actually happening. This was just an idea four days ago! It’s amazing how fast you can actually do things when you put your mind to it.
Day Five – Marketing Your Business
Day five task: Build a list of what marketing methods you are going to choose. Put together a rough plan for the first week or two of your launch.
Dan Norris gives 10 marketing tips in the 7 Day startup, which I found really useful. However, I don’t think a lot of them are going to drive sales in the first 30 days. Every business needs customers in order to move the business forward and so we’re looking for marketing techniques that will actually help us to move the business forward instantly.
This article is part of our content marketing strategy! I thought documenting our 7 day startup would be really interesting to other business owners. Whilst everyone reading this isn’t going to have the requirement of our services, it gives people an insight to the business that they wouldn’t normally get. We also plan to post this article on things like Reddit, forums and Facebook groups that are interested in these sorts of things. The main one being Dan Norris’ 7 Day Startup Facebook group! When people read this, hopefully they’ll find it interesting and therefore will remember who we are and what we do.
We plan to introduce ourselves to businesses via cold emailing. The plan is to target around 100 businesses who we know don’t use social media to it’s full potential (through research) and just give them some tips on what they could do better and why it’s important. Almost like giving them a free, cold, audit. By doing this, it means we’re not just sending out blanket emails in the hope that someone will read it. We’re personalising every email, giving the recipient proper value and actionable steps on how to improve what they’re currently doing online. We don’t know what the response rate will be for this, but if we’re providing value, and not just spamming people, I hope it will be quite high. By doing this for 100 businesses, we’ll get a good indication if it works or not.
This links in with our content creation plan. Every business these days needs to have an mailing list. We’re trying to build our one already. It’s important for a number of reasons:
1. When someone new comes onto your site, the chances that they will come back are slim. Therefore, it’s important to try and get them signed up so you can send them your content and get them coming back to you for more. This is where the whole sales funnel comes into play.
2. It is also an easy way to connect with your target market. An email list consists of highly targeted people who are interested in what you have to offer and so you’re able to promote your services to an audience that are most likely to buy.
I am actively involved with a few online forums, such as 4Networking. I’m also part of different Facebook groups which I get a lot of value from. The main ones being:
7Day Start Up (I am also part of the paid group)
Both of these are intimate groups where you can share ideas, post content and get honest feedback from people. There’s no blatant sales promotions or spam in either of them which is great. I will continue to be active in both of them and hopefully build up trust with the members.
I’m part of the national networking organisation, 4Networking, but also get out to as many events as I can. I want everyone in Edinburgh to know about us. I want the business community in Edinburgh to know who we are and what we do.
End of Day five
That brings us to the end of Day five! This is what we plan to do for the first 30 days. Longer term plans include things like SEO, but for now I want to focus on things that can bring us in paying customers immediately. Tomorrow it’s all about the goals.
Day Six – Setting Your Business Targets & KPI’s
Day six task: Create a spreadsheet that covers the first few months in business, the number of signups, revenue, estimated costs, and monthly growth.
Our initial target is simple. We want 5-10 people to sign up to our service in the first 30 days. Dan talks about the One Metric That Matters (OMTM). That is our one. It’s the one thing that you use to measure whether or not your startup has been a success. After the first 30 days, we’d be happy to grow the business at a rate of 5-10 paying customers every month. Another important issue that Dan talks about in the 7 Day Startup is that you need momentum. It’s important after I launch that I keep going and pushing the business every day.
End of Day six
That wraps up Day six. We’ve got the idea, the website, the product, the marketing plan and now the goals. We’re ready to sail the ship. Tomorrow we launch!
Day Seven – Launch Your Business!
Today we launch the business. The whole point in the 7 Day Startup is to get your business launched as quickly as possible to then see if people will actually pay for your service. If they don’t, you’ve failed quick and you’ve failed cheaply. Now you can move on to the next venture. We’ll find out over the next 30 days whether or not people want what we’re offering. We’ve got the product, the plan and the determination so let’s hope it all pulls together. I’m sure it will.
End of Day seven
I’d firstly like to thank everyone who has followed our journey so far. I posted on medium.com every day and got a great response from the articles that I was putting out. I wanted to write this big one to try and help anyone else who is thinking about starting up their own business. I hope this shows how easy and simple it can be to do it.
My thoughts on the concept/process
I picked up The 7 Day Startup for £2.98 on the Kindle, expecting it to be like any other business book. However, this one really resonated with me. I instantly wanted to act upon it. If Blue Cliff Media fails to take off, I’ll still see this process as a success. I’ve learnt so much in just 7 days. It’s changed the way I see business and life forever.
Business doesn’t have to be complicated. I’ve shown that you can set a business up in just 7 days for less than £40. It’s made me think: can you afford not to give it a shot? What happens if you fail? Oh well, you’ve spent a few hours for 7 days on something. You’re right back to where you were in the first place.
What happens if it succeeds? You can only try and find out. It’s shifted my mindset. With most things in life, you’re only going to succeed if you get up and GO DO. If you’re one of those people who says something like ‘I’ve always wanted to run my own business’ or ‘I’ve got this great business idea’. Then please, do me one favour and just give it a shot. You’ve got nothing to lose. If you’re sitting reading this blog and want to try going for it yourself, buy the book, follow the steps and just see where it takes you. You won’t regret it, I promise.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this. I certainly have. If you have any questions or queries about the process, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. Email me at Gav@bluecliffmedia.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. If you want to start a business and feel like I can help you with this process, just drop me a line.
I wrote this article 2 years on, sharing some of the things I’ve learned in business since launching 🙂
And lastly, if you’ve enjoyed reading this and would like to follow the journey as we move forward, you should join our awesome community.