Master Class: How to find your business idea (Even if you’re afraid of starting something stupid) – with Richie Norton

Richie Norton quit his job as president of a financial services company to go on a three-month road trip.

“I started really looking at my life and saying, ‘What am I doing and what do I really want to be doing?’” says Richie, author of The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret.

During the roadtrip, Richie and his wife took on several paid projects, which led to the work he does today as an author, international speaker, and strategic advisor.

“I started living the life I wanted to live instead of waiting to live that life I wanted in the future, which I knew was an elusive future,” he says. “We think that all these things are going to happen when I finally do this, when I finally finish that. Because of the deaths of my brother-in-law and my son, I realized no, I need to act on it now, and I moved forward and then created a business around that lifestyle.”

In his Mixergy course, Richie shows you how to start a business by starting with something stupid. Here are three highlights from the course.

1. Don’t Look Any Further than Your Own Backyard


Most new entrepreneurs struggle with how to get started.

There’s so much you need to learn, and so much that you want to do. “You might go out and spend a lot of money on things you don’t even need,” says Richie. If it becomes too overwhelming, “you might not even start at all,” he says.

So how do you get started despite it all?

Use what you got

Start with what’s in front of you.

Richie says Mixergy is a good example of this. When Andrew started Mixergy, he thought he needed a studio and expensive software to record a video. But then he decided to just start with what he had: a webcam and some free software.

“Look at what’s right in front of you and start with that,” says Richie. “Don’t try and reach for all these things you don’t have. There’s a lot of stuff that’s right there, that you can do right now.”

2. Be a Mad Scientist


When an idea doesn’t work, it can feel like a crippling defeat.

“People will wait to do something they really want to do for so long and build it up to be so big [that if it fails], they feel they’ve wasted their whole life on a dream that will never pan out,” says Richie. And that’s when they throw in the towel.

So how do you avoid a crippling defeat?

Run lots of experiments

Think of your ideas as small experiments.

“Experiment so that if it works you can move forward, and if it doesn’t you can move on,” says Richie.

That’s how Darren Rouse started ProBlogger, says Richie. “Darren started with a little website that was making maybe $5, $10 a day,” he says, and Darren was running other little “experiments” at the same time. When ProBlogger started to get some traction, he dropped the other projects and focused on ProBlogger. “[He] turned it into a multi-million dollar company, and it all started by experimenting,” says Richie.

3. Go Back to the Future


Sometimes you have a good idea, but the timing is all wrong.

Richie points to the example of Jeff Bezos, who was working on Wall Street when he had the idea to sell books online. After doing some research, Jeff knew it’d be a successful business. But since Jeff already had a great job, “he thought it was a stupid time to do it,” says Richie.

So how do you decide whether or not to pursue an idea?

Consider future regret

Ask yourself, “Will I regret it when I’m 80?”

That’s what Jeff did, says Richie. “[Jeff] realized, ‘I would regret not trying to start this Internet business of selling books out of my garage.’ So Jeff quit his job in the middle of the year, which is a crazy time to quit because on Wall Street that means you don’t get your annual bonus…and started Amazon.com,” says Richie.

Tweetable Insights

“Stuck on finding the right business idea? Start with something stupid.” Click to Tweet

Get the rest of the course here.

Written by April Dykman.

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  • sonibvc

    I absolutely love it when authors and motivational speakers tell you how to do it :) Noticed this only flies in the US. Are Americans really that gullible?

  • Wilson Kanaday

    Indeed! I’ve never thought of myself as gullible but thank you for giving that me that new perspective. I love finding motivational resources.

  • Brian Nelson

    I’d be interested in knowing if you’ve actually read his book or if you just feel this way simply because he’s an author and speaker. His book is great! It’s difficult to get published and even more difficult to build a successful speaking/consulting business. It’s silly to think we can’t learn from an author/speaker. We can learn from any and everyone.

    I may not be asked to do a course for Mixergy any time soon, but if my experience can help someone, then l’m open to connecting. Please point us to your resume and bio so we can learn from your experiences too.

    linkedin.com/in/briannelson36

  • http://www.internetgeeks.org/ Internet Geeks

    This is a good read. Thanks Richie.

  • sonibvc

    Hi Brian,

    Cant read all such books..its practically impossible to do. There is 10s of thousands of such books. I have a read a few and that is enough to get a sense of the genre and the authors, sure there are exceptions, but majority are just making money by telling you how to make money. To all those who are interested, try How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis (self made millionaire by creating many businesses and one of the richest guys in the UK) the proceeds of the book go to support his forest project and not make money – he was a billionaire when he wrote the book.

    With regards to learning something from books, here is a quote you might want to consider “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

    As for my resume and experience. I do not believe my experience or resume is worthy of the attention of the public and hence I do not want to bother people with it until I am confident that there is something which truly sets me apart and adds value in a way that I have already proven.

  • evilcheezgrater

    I must admit, I don’t like seeing Masterclasses from motivational speakers on Mixergy either. I think it cheapens the site.

    The great thing about Mixergy is that it has long felt like people were approached by Andrew because they were worthy, but here it feels like he’s simply been approached by someone with a book to sell and that really saddens me.

    The book is about courage according to Seth Godin. My partner and I went on a year long road trip, armed with plenty of courage, determination and a number of ideas, and did something that sounds very similar. We struggled unsuccessfully to change our careers in that time – perhaps it was something we were doing wrong, but I can’t help thinking that we would have had a far better chance of making “dreams happen” if one of us had also been president of a financial services company, with the money, connections and clout such a job would infer.

    Richie appears to have done it inside 3 months with 3 children in tow. Impressive. We had one child with us, and that ate up a lot of time – so much that we often thought testing out multiple ideas was where we went wrong.

  • MellyDanielsisf321

    just as
    Albert answered I am dazzled that you able to get paid $5004 in four weeks on
    the internet . read here F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­?­?­?­