What a toy monkey taught me about side-hustles and startups

By  •  Updated: 03/17/22 •  4 min read

Watching a Stanford professor waving a toy moneky around, changed my entire view of how to start businesses.

Thankfully, that moment is on Youtube so you can share in the moment.

I’ll explain the impact it had, but I really recommend you watch this, particularly if you ever lack motivation for big challenges, or if you find it hard to stick to a habit.

BJ Fogg’s behaviour model

The big “aha!” moment for me was looking at the two ways you can start a behaviour.

The first is to pump up motivation. This is what we do as marketers, we make you hungry, desperate for the product even.

But we all know that motivation is fleeting and it’s why so many people are left disappointed after they buy a product.

The motivation simply doesn’t last long enough to put the learning into action.

But BJ gives us another route.

He tells us that behaviour will only change when our ability is high enough.

But for a course creator that’s kind of a catch 22.

We want our students to take action, but they don’t have ability so they’re scared to take the first step.

We’re asking too much of them.

But BJ, who is a quiet, unassuming genius, doesn’t take the rah rah approach that the likes of Tony Robbins  do.

He knows that motivation is short-lived and doesn’t last.

Instead he takes an approach that is 100% in line with my idea of “strategic laziness”.

He makes it easier to start.

The example he gives is to built a good dental hygiene habit by flossing one tooth each morning.

A habit so easy you’d feel embarrassed if you don’t start it, and so easy you’ll probably do more than the bare minimum you’ve set yourself.

I look at course creation the same way.

Right now I have a call on my calendar with a guy who has spent 9 months building a sales training course.

He’s spent a fortune on a custom website, cameras, microphones, building a studio and god knows what else.

I can see his motivation starting to fade and he hasn’t even launched yet.

Imagine where his business would have been if he’d written a 20 page ebook, launched it for $1 and just tweeted one sales tip each day?

My guess is he’d have:

The list just goes on.

He’s probably have that big ticket course by now but he’d have paid for it out of ebook sales, and he’d know it would sell.

If you’re starting a content business alongside a day-job, your biggest challenge is that you’ve been conditioned that everything has to look “professional”, which usually means a gloss of respectability, covering up a mediocre product.

This is because big businesses need a lid on creativity or they’d be launching 10,000 products a year. There’s an incentive to only make big bets or the overhead of managing 10,000 experiments would kill them.

But as a solopreneur, you’re not there yet. You’re at the solving and selling stage, not the scaling stage.

Your job in your side-hustle is to launch small things fast, and get feedback, until you find one that gets the market’s attention.

My aim for this list is to see more people get to their first dollar online.

Earn $1 is my “floss one tooth”.

When you’ve done that, we’ll talk about $10, $100 and $1000 products, and $1m businesses.

But it all starts with $1

Stephen Pratley

I build email lists, that grow into one-man businesses.