Notes from Your Move: The Underdog’s Guide to Building a Business by Ramit Sethi

7/10. Online businesses provide financial freedom and flexibility, and are now viable options for anyone with Wi-Fi and willingness to work hard. In this book, Ramit Sethi explains the fundamentals of online businesses; what they are, and how you can build your own.

Your Move: The Underdog's Guide to Building a BusinessRating: 7/10
Finished: 07/2017
Related Books: The LEAN Startup, Running Lean, Scaling Lean, The 7-Day Startup

Buy the book on Amazon here / See all my book summaries HERE.

The Short Summary of “Your Move: The Underdog’s Guide to Building a Business” by Ramit Sethi

Online businesses provide financial freedom and flexibility, and are now viable options for anyone with Wi-Fi and willingness to work hard. In this book, Ramit Sethi explains the fundamentals of online businesses; what they are, and how you can build your own. I mostly enjoyed the inspirational case studies referenced in the book.

Lessons Learned

If you’re just starting out, an extra $1,000 a month can dramatically improve your quality of life. Fortunately, there’s a TON of ways to earn an extra $1,000. In fact, when you break down the numbers, it’s not very hard: $1,000/month = $250/week $250/week = $50/day, 5 days a week So you just need to earn an extra $50, Monday through Friday. That’s achievable. And the beauty of it? Now here’s your third lesson: It’s not magic. It’s math.

Even if you’re the world’s best negotiator, there’s only so much a company can pay you. But when you start your own business, there’s no limit to how much you can earn.

A lot of lip service is paid to the risk of starting a business. But no one talks about the invisible risk of doing nothing.

[bctt tweet=”No one talks about the invisible risk of doing nothing.” username=”Ramit”]

Sometimes, our minds don’t handle the risk correctly. How many people do you know who are afraid of investing in the stock market because they’re worried about losing money? What those people don’t realize is they’re losing money every single day, thanks to inflation.

No one likes to talk about failure. But the biggest failures aren’t things you did. They’re things you didn’t do. Playing it safe is one of the biggest failures possible. The first step is learning to recognize it in every facet of our lives.

The invisible risk of working at a job you don’t love is every day you’re not being challenged, you’re not just stagnant — you’re actually going backwards compared to other people who are learning new skills, getting more responsibility, and getting paid what they deserve.

The truth is you don’t have to do anything about any of these things. What’s the worst that could happen? On a given day, nothing. Over a year, maybe a little. Over 10 years, the invisible risks of playing it safe add up, compound, and soon become as inescapable as a black hole. It’s not just the weight, or debt, or drudgery of marching to a job we don’t love. It’s the identity we create of someone who’s accepted the way things are. It’s as if we got on the wrong highway 500 miles ago, just realized we’re going the wrong direction, and we shake our head and shrug, realizing “I guess this is where I’m going.”

You can’t help people who are too smart for their own good. Which is exactly why I want to remind you that the very best in the world are relentless at mastering the fundamentals. Kobe Bryant spent hours working on dribbling drills every day.

If you don’t have your psychology right, it’s 100x harder to succeed. It’s true about fitness. And it’s also true about money.

The world is not a zero-sum game.

When you can connect and really solve their problems, the price is a mere triviality.

Money Is a Marker That I’m Doing the Right Thing. All of us know entrepreneurs who will literally use any number as a proxy for success… They’ll talk about how many readers they have. How many people like their Facebook page. Or how many Instagram followers they have. They’ll choose any sort of number they can… as long as they can avoid talking about HOW MUCH MONEY THEY MAKE-

The best entrepreneurs know we have to avoid reporting the “fake” numbers and focus on the number that matters — sales.

Why is money a marker that I’m doing the right thing? Because it’s not hard to get your customers to take the first step. You can get people into your store. You can get people onto your web site, or to read your blog. You can even get them to sign up for your email list. But it takes a lot of trust for someone to actually pull out their wallet and pay you money, because they believe you can help them solve their problems.

Rule #1: People pay me for the value I create. In other words, if I create value, people will be more than happy to pay me for it.
Rule #2. The more I make, the more value I can create. I can invest back into the business, by building systems, creating technology, and hiring new people.
Rule #3. Money is a marker that I’m doing the right thing. We’re going to avoid fake proxies of success, like how many people like my Facebook page. Instead, we’ll focus on the ultimate sign that you’ve created something the world wants: Sales.

Everyone has what I like to call an “X-Men ability”: Something we’re amazing at that we don’t quite realize is special. Obviously, not everyone is a neuroscientist or world-class violinist — me included. But the point is, we’re all good at something…

Take 1 minute and read the below questions. Don’t worry about writing anything down, just think about possible answers from your life. Here we go:
– What are some things I already pay to learn?
– What would I pay to learn if I could afford it, if money was no issue?
– What’s a problem I have that I’d pay almost anything to solve?

It’s more efficient to pay money in exchange for someone’s knowledge or expertise or skills. And if you’re willing to pay for someone else’s expertise, there are people out there who will pay for yours.

Questions to help identify skills you can teach:

– Question #1: What do I already pay for?
– Question #2: What skills do I have?
– Question #3: What do my friends say I’m great at?
–Question #4: What do I do on Saturday morning?

It’s easy to sit, write an email and blast it out to everyone. On the other hand, it’s hard to actually listen to people. And I promise, that difference can be worth millions and millions of dollars. I cannot emphasize enough that the simple act of actually listening to people — without judgment — can skyrocket your business.

Have you ever watched someone’s eyes just glaze over on you as they tune out your every word? Feels good, doesn’t it? Fortunately, there’s a better way to help. The Magical, Million-Dollar Words It starts with these 4 simple words: “Tell me about that.” “You don’t know what to do with your money? Tell me about that. What is the money doing right now?” They might say, “Oh it’s just kind of sitting in my savings account.” Then you can start teasing things out.

Let’s say, “It must feel pretty tough, to have the money sitting around in a savings account with no idea what to do. I imagine it nags at you, in the back of your mind.” Just like that, by showing EMPATHY, the flood is unleashed, and they’ll tell you everything:

Make Sure You’re Talking to Your Target Market First, you want to talk to people who are in your target market. These people can be friends, they could be family, but you want to make sure that these are the customers you’ll actually serve.

For example, when I started “I Will Teach You to be Rich,” if I had talked to people who were my parent’s age, they would have said something like: “I wish I had saved for retirement earlier.” Now imagine if I took that and put it in front of a 22-year-old? Would they be itching to read my “Ultimate Guide to Catching Up on Retirement?” Of course not! They don’t want to hear anything about retirement! Instead, I focused on my market:  22, 25, 30-year-olds, and they said things like: “I don’t know what to do with my money, it’s just sitting there.” “I just want to make sure my money is working for me.” “I want to be able to buy a round of drinks for my friends.” These are the words I heard over and over again, and these are the things you want to listen for, everywhere you go. In real life, when you’re talking to your family, friends, or colleagues, your ears should perk up whenever you hear the words “I want,” “I wish,” or “I don’t know.”

You want to get to know their hopes, fears and dreams. You want to get at the very evocative things people are feeling inside. The best part is, THEY WANT TO TELL YOU. They want to get this off their chest, IF you’re willing to listen.

The private emails I receive are so insightful and vulnerable and I honestly don’t even have to come up with new content ideas. My readers bring issues to my attention.”

Marshall Goldsmith, one of the world’s top executive coaches, put it to me this way: “Your biggest challenge [is] customer selection. You pick the right customer, you win. You pick the wrong customer, you lose. Focus on helping great people get better.”

The reason famous entrepreneurs seem so natural is that, by the time you hear about them, they’ve had a lot of practice. Do you remember the first time you heard of Mark Zuckerberg? It was years after he started Facebook.

Ignore the media when they try to portray someone as an overnight success. To paraphrase Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec, “It takes 10-15 years of hard work to become an overnight success.”

But successful entrepreneurs love making mistakes, because it teaches them what to avoid in the future.

Focus more on being decisive and less on trying to make the “right” decision. You’ll never know until you try, and if you’re wrong, you can always try again.

And if you do make a mistake, go over it carefully to make sure you don’t repeat it. The key is to figure out exactly what went wrong. Was your plan built on flawed assumptions? Did you execute poorly? Was it a failure of the last mile? Once you figure out the answers, you always win, regardless of the immediate outcome.

Here’s an unexpected lesson I learned: The world wants you to be vanilla. They will always push you to look and act the same as everyone else. If your business is going to stand out and succeed, it’s up to you to push back.

There are a million different ways to approach any topic. The key is: Instead of focusing on the competition, focus on your audience. Who is your audience, and what do they want that they are not being served right now? I guarantee you, in the yoga audience, there are people who have never done yoga. Then there are people who tried it a couple times, and they kind of gave up. They say things like, “I should go back,” but they haven’t. What you can do is take your special insight and your perspective on the world, and serve their needs. That’s how you build a business that stands out from all the rest.

Be different to be better. Don’t be different for the sake of being different. I once had a friend tell me he wanted to charge $62, an unusual price, for his product. “Why?” I asked. “I just want to try something new.” My friend was being an idiot.

When you conquer these fears, it’s like this mountain of pressure suddenly moves off your chest. You can talk to your family, friends — and most importantly, your customers — about your business with confidence. You’ll know that for most people, your product or service won’t be right for them. But for the right customer, it’s like music to their ears, and they’ll be begging you to take their money.

People Value What They Pay For.

Notice how it’s not apologetic? And how it’s not a high-pressure sale? He’s just saying, “Hey, I put a lot of work into this thing. For the right people, I think it’ll be valuable. Check it out.” That’s all selling is.

Pricing isn’t just the sticker price. It informs your entire business. Most people price out of fear. They just choose a price which is usually way lower than they should charge, and then they hope that no one notices they’re actually charging money for this product. Your pricing signifies who you are and what kind of customer you want.

My guess is that most of us don’t want to play in the $5 sandbox, whether we’re selling products or services. Typically, it’s more fun (and profitable) to be a higher value provider. We’re just held back by fear.

Sales happen automatically. I was not involved whatsoever — but my systems were. The right system is the linchpin that gives you total control over your life. Imagine waking up on a weekday, whenever you want. You take your time getting up, brew some coffee, and check your email. And you see you received 10 sales… Most for $497, a couple for $997, and even one for $1,997… All while you were sleeping. This kind of revenue can be life changing. Now forget about the $1,997 product, and even a $197 product for a second. What if you had an entry-level $50 product or service? Run this quick calculation in your head: $50 product x 10 sales/month x 24 months = ? Go ahead, take a second… That’s $12,000.

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I batch most of my meetings for the afternoon, but try to include at least a 5-minute buffer between them. I found when I stacked too many meetings in a row, I’d really lose my energy, and that’s when bad things would start to happen.

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Finally, within each task, I include the URLs of any necessary documents. I click the URL, and I’m instantly taken to the right place in the document — down to the paragraph I need to start working on. You don’t have to get to this level right now. This is just me being a weirdo, but at every single opportunity I’m looking for any place where I can cut inefficiency and just get to doing the works.

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You’ve got no idea what to write. We call this “Blank Page Syndrome” and as any writer will attest, it’s one of the most frustrating things to go through. We decided we wanted to kill this problem once and for all. Let me show you our system to consistently come up with enough ideas to write blog posts, multiple emails, and high-end programs… over the last 10 years. It’s a powerful yet surprisingly simple system that will generate an endless amount of ideas for years to come. The magic lies in the first email in your email autoresponder. (If you don’t have an email list or autoresponder set up yet, go to for resources on how to get started.) In this first email, you’re going welcome them to your list, thank them for joining, and close with this question: “What are you struggling with today?” And when your potential customers start emailing you, telling you about their biggest pains, you have to email them back and dig deeper. In Chapter 3: The secret to creating 100, 1,000, or 10,000 loyal customers, we talked about 3 questions to discover your customer’s biggest hopes, fears, and dreams: What’s going on? How do you think about this? How does it make you feel?

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System #3: Collect Raving Testimonials for Every Product You may have noticed that with every course we launch we have raving testimonials: texts, graphics, video, and more. That’s because we have a system for gathering, sorting, and deploying them. And once you start using testimonials strategically, they’ll help your business grow in a huge way.

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You’ll want testimonials “in the can” BEFORE you start selling your first product. First and foremost, let’s assume your product or service is good (the world’s best system won’t save a terrible product or service). Next, we look for opportunities to ask for a testimonial at every stage: At the start of a program, we ask, “Why’d you join?” During the program, we include surveys built right into the curriculum, or we may send out occasional emails. Then at the end of the course, we’ll ask “How did it go? Where are you compared to where you expected? What could we do to improve?” We’re looking to improve the product of course, but it’s also a way to mine for amazing testimonials.

it’s critical that each time you have a happy customer, you ask them to spread the message for you: Good people know good people.

Remember: great products don’t rely on discounted prices.

Some of our sales pages are over 70 pages long. A sales page doesn’t need to be short! We spend 50-70% of the time really talking about the problem. We reveal their secret dreams and biggest pains, we talk about the other solutions available to them… and only then do we talk about our solution. And when it’s time to ask for the sale, we ask unapologetically. If your product or service really will solve their problem, whether it’s finding a better job or finally getting out of debt, you have an obligation to do everything in your power to get them to buy.

My friend, Sam Carpenter, literally wrote the book on systems called Work the System, and I love how he cuts right to the importance of systems. The important thing for any system, he says, isn’t how complicated it is or how many moving parts there are or what technology it involves. According to Sam, an effective system “focuses our limited attention and willpower on the things that matter.”

You can apply systems to your business, your home, even your relationships (like an alarm, once a week, that reminds you to call your mom). It’s not sexy, but it works.

Get Inside Your Customers’ Minds If you want to sell with confidence, before you do anything else, you need to understand your customers like they are good friends. The reason is, you already know how to sell to your friends. You sell them on what TV show to watch next and what restaurant they absolutely need to try. And it’s not sleazy. Part of that is because you have their best interest at heart. But it’s also because you know them so well you can make valuable recommendations. Selling to anyone involves the same building blocks. To sell, you need to know four key things about your customers: their hopes, dreams, pain points, and fears.

Here are some questions that gave me amazing insights that’ll work for you: What do you want for yourself [in specific topic]? What are you doing now? How does that make you feel? What’s your alternative? How does that make you feel?

Here are some of my top places to learn about your audience: Amazon reviews of similar products and books Reddit or other online posting sites Facebook groups (For Amazon in particular, Tim Ferriss recommends that you read 3- and 4-star reviews, as those have the most insight about what the reviewer liked and didn’t like.)

Focus on “Why,” Not “How” The final change in selling my services was to stop writing about the “how” and instead write about the “why.” Here’s my first sales page from 3 years ago. See how much I focused on the “how”: No wonder people weren’t buying. The writing is almost like a science lesson.

Dorm Room Ramit’s vs CEO-Ramit’s mindset:

Dorm Room Ramit: Everything Needs to be Perfect. CEO Ramit: Live to Fight Another Day.
At the start of your business (anywhere from 0 to $100K revenue/year), every day you’re fighting to live another day. You have to be scrappy. It’s a game of survival, not perfection.
Live to fight another day, and trust that your future self will be able to solve problems later on.

Dorm Room Ramit: A Popular Blog is a Business CEO Ramit: A Profitable Blog is a Business.
Most bloggers completely ignore the ONE metric that actually matters: Profit. Time-on-site won’t pay your rent.

Dorm Room Ramit: Be Good at Everything CEO Ramit: Be World Class at a Few Things.

Dorm Room Ramit: I Don’t Want to Hire a Big Team CEO Ramit: I Want to Reach Millions of People.

Dorm Room Ramit: I’ll Only Follow “Timeless Principles” CEO Ramit: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. At the very highest levels, the differences in technical skills have been virtually extinguished because all the people who are not amazing are out of the game; they’re not competing at those levels.

But once you get to a certain level, basically people have similar skill sets. What’s the difference, then? It’s the psychology that separates the winners from everyone else.

Most people don’t set goals. When they do, the goals are so dim it’s like a dying star. Instead of saying, “My goal is to increase revenue 10% per year,” why not say, “My goal is to double it”? What would that do?

You don’t have to go all-in on everything — in fact, you shouldn’t. Instead aim for 3 to 5 things per year to move all-in on — things that take 100% of your time, money, and attention.

[bctt tweet=”Aim for only 3 to 5 things per year to move all-in on, with 100% of your time, money, and attention.”]

As a professional, it’s your job to teach them — your clients, customers, and team — to revere your work. If you don’t, then they won’t respect the work you do. It’s that simple.

A friend of mine used to sell low-cost information products, in the $29 range, and he wanted to move upmarket, to $1,000 products. He asks, “Can you help me take a look at my sales page?” “Sure,” I said. “I’ll give you feedback on your sales page, but you have to send me the notes that you take from our call.” Why did I do that? The guy’s my friend, I’m not going to charge him to look at his sales page, but my work is highly valuable and I teach everyone to revere it. That is my goal. By telling him, “I want you to send me the notes on our call,” I’m teaching him 2 things: This is going to be so valuable that you’re going to want to take notes. I want him to understand that message. Those notes are going to be so valuable that I’m going to want to use them too. I’m going to save them, file them away, and one day if I create something on sales page critiques, I have my notes. Notice the messaging in both of these examples. I’m polite but firm. I’m communicating my value. That’s professionalism.

While it takes 2x or 3x the amount of work to become the absolute best in your field, the best reap 5x or 10x the reward as everyone else. I call this “disproportionate results.”

Finally, Jay Abraham’s insights completely changed my life. His book made me over $100,000 in one month, and he helped me double my business in one year. I applied his advice to my personal life and had amazing experiences in just a few months.

“In other words, when you ask for a busy person’s time for mentorship or advice, show that (1) You’re serious and you’ve gone as far as you can by yourself, and (2) You’ve taken concrete steps to address whatever your needs are, and show how you can benefit them and their project.”

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He later became Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration. Sheryl was quickly appointed as his Chief of Staff. What made her such an asset? “If I was making a mistake, she told me.” Larry said. “She was totally loyal, but totally in my face.”

If you want a mentor, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. What does doing your homework look like? It means really going deep in the archives and reading every blog post they’ve ever written. It means following them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get an idea about what they’re passionate about. Then, watching every YouTube video they’ve posted on their channel. So when it’s time to send that email, you can use what I call the “1-2-3 Choice Technique.” The email says something like this: “Hi Ramit, I love your book on blah blah. I noticed you said I should XYZ in chapter 5, and so I tried it. I’m stuck due to XYZ. So I’ve come up with 3 possible routes: Option 1 Option 2 Option 3 Which do you think I should do?” This gets almost a 100% response rate, since you have actually done the work in advance… plus all the busy person has to do is tell you which option is best. GOOD JOB.

My favorite way of starting up those regular communications and building rapport is taking people out to coffee. You have to reach out to potential mentors and ask them about them. They love being experts in what they’re asked about — as long as you’re asking good questions. Take someone out to coffee, on their terms, at their convenience. I try to spend 50 minutes out of an hour, just asking them questions. Of course, you’re asking questions because you’re really trying to learn, not just for the sake of asking questions. Maybe for the last 10 minutes I talk about myself a little bit, and set the tone for meeting them again. However, that first meeting is as little about me as possible. I want to learn from them. Most importantly, don’t rush it.

One of the best ways I added value to CEOs was by giving presentations on how millennials used technology. Millennials were their target market but they had no idea how they spent their time: Were they watching TV? If so, on the television set or laptop or on their phone? How much time did they spend on television vs. Facebook? Why?

I thought I couldn’t go on, and I was getting ready to quit, but instead of letting me quit or even coast, my coach pushed me to do even more. And I did it. This was a magical moment for me.

His instructor said to him: “Don’t worry about this. This is an easy day. You’re capable of 20 times what you think you are.”

In fact, I fail so often, I have a failures folder set up in my email account. If I’m not sending five to seven failures there a month, I’m actually failing at failing. I know that I’m not trying enough, so I’m not failing enough, as well.

There’s nothing tricky about business; you simply need to offer tremendous value to people and solve one of their challenges or frustrations. 

Offer Supersized Options: One of the most classic techniques for increasing sales is also the simplest –upsells.

One final thought: When you give people a choice of product or service tiers, you do something subtle but powerful. You shift the internal question for the customer from, “Should I buy this?” to “Which one should I buy?” That one simple mental shift is so profound, as it gets them thinking which one is a better fit.

I was fed up with my scaredy-cat approach to selling and wanted to try a more confident model. What helped shift my mindset is something Jay Abraham calls being your client or customer’s “trusted advisor.” If you view yourself as their trusted advisor, and you have a product or service that will truly help them, then you should be doing everything in your power to let them know about it and offer it to them.


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