From idea to a business

Picture this: you stumble upon a new product or service, and you think to yourself, “Wait a minute, I had that exact same idea!” Well, instead of letting that inspiration fade away, imagine taking charge and transforming your idea into a thriving enterprise in just one day.


We often find ourselves holding back from pursuing our great ideas. It could be the overwhelming thought of starting a business from scratch, or perhaps the fear of needing a huge amount of capital to kick things off. But here’s the thing: times have changed. Setting up a company has never been more accessible, quick, and inexpensive.


Find out how to start a business and keep it running smoothly once you’ve begun. And here’s the secret sauce: optimization, automation, and outsourcing. Get ready to embark on a journey that will empower you to create and sustain a successful business.


How a Virtual Assistant Company Started Overnight

Sometimes, it’s better to act on an idea right away instead of spending years planning and researching. Surprisingly, it’s actually possible to start a company in just 24 hours, and there’s proof that it can work!


Back in August 2015, two friends named Ari Meisel and Nick Sonnenberg came up with an idea for a virtual assistant company during dinner. They were both experts in business efficiency and productivity, so they knew it had potential.


The interesting part is that just one day later, their business was already up and running. How did they do it so quickly? Well, the timing was perfect. Another virtual assistant company had recently shut down, leaving thousands of clients and assistants without a job. Ari and Nick saw this as a golden opportunity, but they had to act fast.


They quickly sketched out their business plan and managed to secure clients and assistants from the previous company. They used free online tools and apps as their infrastructure, so they didn’t need any initial investment. From day one, their business was profitable and scalable.


Throughout the year, Ari and Nick faced various challenges but successfully grew their company. Their story is an adventure filled with lessons and experiences.


The important takeaway from their story is that if you have a great idea and spot an opportunity, don’t hesitate to seize it. With determination and resourcefulness, you can bring your vision to life in no time.


Meeting Market Demands

Ari and Nick had a keen understanding of the flaws in existing virtual assistant services. They knew that their own startup could offer a more effective solution to these problems.


One major issue they noticed was that virtual assistant companies typically provided either on-demand assistants or dedicated assistants for long-term tasks. On-demand assistants were only suitable for simple, one-time assignments like scheduling appointments, while dedicated assistants handled a wide range of tasks for a single client. However, relying solely on one person could become a bottleneck due to time constraints.


In the case of Zirtual, the previous model assigned a dedicated virtual assistant to handle all of a client’s needs, from booking meetings to conducting research or designing a website. The problem was that these assistants often lacked the diverse skill set required to handle such varied tasks. This is where Ari and Nick saw an opportunity in the market: they realized there was a need for a new model that could match clients with assistants who were specifically suited to each task.


They understood that in order to succeed in business, it’s essential to offer customers a different or superior service compared to what already exists. Drawing on their business acumen, Ari and Nick recognized that busy executives were searching for a convenient solution to hire virtual assistants.


Their innovation was to address both issues with a single solution. They would match a client’s specific needs with assistants who possessed the precise skills required, all through their own company. Clients would benefit from having a team of assistants who were small enough to provide a personal touch, yet large enough to ensure that each task was handled by the most qualified person.


To maintain a personal touch and ensure maximum efficiency, each team would be led by a manager who would serve as the main point of contact for the client.


Launching a Start-up with Quality and Efficiency

Don’t believe that a start-up needs fancy and expensive infrastructure to launch successfully. In fact, you can easily run a new business using free and user-friendly software tools.


For managing client tasks, Nick discovered a handy program called Trello. It’s simple to use and offers boards for different projects, lists to track project status, and cards to outline tasks that still need to be done.


Nick came up with a clever way to utilize Trello by assigning a board to each client. He created a template to keep uniform lists for each client, ensuring consistency across the board.


By utilizing Trello’s features, they were able to meet the basic operational needs of their start-up without spending a dime.


However, providing top-notch services was crucial for their success. Since their target market consisted of demanding professionals with high incomes, they understood the importance of delivering exceptional quality.


To attract the most talented assistants in the industry, Ari and Nick committed to paying their employees two to six times more than the going rate. Consequently, they charged their clients four to eight times more than other virtual assistant companies. Their justification for the higher prices was the exceptional service they provided. They also billed clients based on the exact time spent and shared all timesheets openly.


For instance, they created a business website for one of their clients, a real estate agent named Chip. They went the extra mile by having a virtual assistant follow up on leads generated through the website. The assistant only booked appointments for Chip if the leads were qualified. This allowed Chip to focus on sealing deals while the assistant took care of the rest.


This level of time-saving service aligned perfectly with the promises their company’s name made.


Finding the Best Employees for Your Startup

Finding the right employees for your startup is no easy task. It requires cleverness and a well-thought-out plan. Hiring can be time-consuming and draining, so having an efficient strategy in place is crucial.


After setting up their startup’s foundation, Ari and Nick were ready to hire top-notch assistants to help grow their business. They aimed to get the best results with minimal effort.


First, they created two email addresses: [email protected] and [email protected]. Candidates would send their applications to [email protected] and receive an automated response specifying the available position. They were then instructed to create a two-minute video pitch and upload it to YouTube, sending the link to [email protected].


This two-step process immediately filtered out around 80 percent of applicants. Those who couldn’t follow the instructions or produced low-quality videos were eliminated from consideration. Ari and Nick believed that if an applicant couldn’t come up with a creative solution to this simple task, they wouldn’t make a good virtual assistant.


Secondly, they focused on identifying proactive candidates with a winning attitude. Exceptional virtual assistants needed not only excellent problem-solving skills but also the ability to plan ahead and seize opportunities.


One of the virtual assistants at Less Doing exemplified this ideal type. By monitoring the Facebook posts of an important client, the assistant discovered their love for a specific brand of whiskey. As a result, the company sent the client a bottle as a special birthday gift. This attention to detail and dedication to customer service showcased the proactive nature that sets certain workers and businesses apart from the rest.


So, when hiring for your startup, be clever, have a clear plan, and seek out candidates with a proactive mindset. They can make all the difference in the success and growth of your business.




How Connections Can Propel Your Company Forward

Networking is crucial for the growth of your company. It’s not enough to have a great product; you need to put yourself out there and showcase it to the world.


In November 2015, Ari and Nick received an invitation to speak at a Genius Network event, which Ari had previously participated in a few years ago. This event brought together industry leaders, renowned authors, and successful entrepreneurs organized by Joe Polish.


Although they didn’t have much time to prepare, Ari and Nick delivered an impromptu presentation about their start-up’s methods of tracking and outsourcing tasks. Their insights captivated the audience for an impressive three and a half hours! Attendees also asked questions, giving Ari and Nick the chance to showcase their problem-solving approach in real-time.


The result? After the workshop, a whopping 90 percent of the audience signed up for Less Doing’s virtual assistant services. It was a networking success!


Having an influx of new clients is fantastic news, right? Well, rapid growth can also bring its challenges and require some restructuring.


To tackle this boom, the start-up quickly developed a custom-coded dashboard. Nick built this tool, which provided an overview of all their Trello client boards. With the dashboard, they could easily see the status of each task and optimize where to direct their attention and that of their team.


Now, while experiencing rapid growth, the team could monitor the company’s overall performance and stay on top of things.


Transforming Challenges into Growth Opportunities

When you’re deeply invested in a project, it can be tough to hear negative feedback. But it’s crucial to tackle issues head-on before they harm your company. This is exactly what Ari and Nick did at Less Doing.


By January 2016, the company was thriving, but they received complaints about a not-so-smooth onboarding process from some customers. Recognizing that this was costing them clients, they took proactive steps to improve the company using innovative problem-solving techniques.


One of their go-to tools was the 5 Whys method. They first identified the problem and then asked “Why?” to dig deeper. They repeated this process three more times to uncover the root cause.


Through this method, they discovered the need to simplify their software interface and provide clearer instructions to clients. Once they made these tweaks, the onboarding process became seamless.


To prevent future complaints, Ari and Nick implemented the Kaizen method, inspired by Japanese companies like Toyota and Mitsubishi. It involves seeking input from every person in the company, regardless of their role, to improve based on personal experiences.


At Less Doing, they asked each virtual assistant to submit one idea per week on how to enhance the company’s processes or methods. This led to an easy solution: some assistants were unsure about proper client charging procedures, resulting in unpaid administrative work. By addressing this issue, they met the needs of both clients and assistants effectively.


By using these innovative problem-solving techniques, Ari and Nick transformed negative feedback into opportunities for growth and improvement. They fostered a culture of continuous improvement that propelled their company forward.


Expanding Your Impact as an Entrepreneur

Once you’ve mastered a winning strategy for your business, you have a valuable opportunity to share your knowledge and skills with others, opening up a new income stream by teaching fellow entrepreneurs what you’ve learned.


To explore the potential of this teaching venture, Less Doing decided to sponsor a business boot camp and advertised it on Facebook. Around 20 participants signed up, and while the presentation went well overall, feedback revealed that the authors had overwhelmed the audience with complex technical terms and demonstrations.


Although this may have initially seemed like a setback, Ari and Nick saw it as valuable information. They realized that hosting live events required a significant time commitment and wasn’t the most effective format for sharing their insights.


This experience taught them an important lesson: being adaptable and willing to adjust your approach is crucial when developing a new aspect of your business.


Rather than giving up on teaching, Ari and Nick decided to revamp their strategy. They transitioned their teaching operations to an online platform, which proved to be a more sustainable and scalable approach in the long run.


From Task Delegation to Client Empowerment

Optimizing a company’s processes is crucial, but there’s one priority that stands above the rest: getting clients hooked on your product or service.


As an entrepreneur, you’re always looking for ways to improve and streamline your operations. Sometimes, it means letting go of certain tasks and delegating them to others or even outsourcing them.


In the case of Less Doing, Ari used to personally manage the company’s dashboard, ensuring tasks were completed on time and clients were satisfied. However, he realized that he could hand over this responsibility to a virtual assistant who excelled at the job. In just two weeks, she proved her capabilities and became the general manager.


The same approach was applied to the financial and payroll needs of the company. Another virtual assistant was trained and quickly became the financial head of Less Doing, freeing up Ari and Nick’s time to focus on other aspects of the business.


Despite these improvements, client engagement remained a challenge. Some clients were still performing tasks themselves instead of relying on virtual assistants. To tackle this issue, the authors sought guidance from behavioral psychologist Nir Eyal, who emphasized the importance of the onboarding process in getting clients hooked.


Less Doing revamped its approach by dedicating more time and effort to coaching new clients on how to effectively use their software and benefit from the range of services offered. Instead of a brief phone call, virtual assistants spent at least an hour guiding clients and helping them maximize their efficiency.


By investing in a more comprehensive onboarding process, clients became better acquainted with the full potential of Less Doing’s services. This not only allowed them to use their time more efficiently but also increased their commitment to relying on virtual assistance.


In summary, while optimizing processes is essential, ensuring client engagement and commitment is the ultimate goal for a thriving business.


Optimizing Processes and Growing Profits

Once your company’s operations are running smoothly, it’s important to shift your focus to analyzing your performance numbers. Ari and Nick realized that they needed to tackle their “churn rate,” which measures the percentage of clients who stop using a company’s services within a specific timeframe, such as three months.


Using a tool called ChartMogul, they tracked how long clients were using Less Doing services and discovered that those who ended up canceling were the ones using the service infrequently.


To combat this, they implemented a proactive approach. Whenever a client was inactive for two weeks, they personally reached out to address any issues and prevent the loss of their business. Investing time and effort into retaining clients was seen as a better option than losing them due to inaction.


It’s important to remember that growing a business requires continuous investment, even when it feels challenging or frustrating. Ari and Nick devoted numerous hours to speaking with inactive clients, aiming to reduce the churn rate from 11% to 3%. They automated parts of the dashboard and personalized the company’s newsletter, all while expanding their presence on Facebook.


As the managerial team expanded, they decided to reward key members with equity in the company. These strategic moves paid off, resulting in Less Doing’s most successful month to date, generating $100,000 in revenue by July 2016. Not bad for a company that originated from a dinner dream!


In conclusion, launching a successful start-up doesn’t necessarily require a large amount of money. What matters most is utilizing existing tools effectively to establish a strong company structure and continuously seeking opportunities to enhance your services.


One key piece of advice is to adopt a tough approach when running a services company. Ari and Nick implemented a “three strikes, and you’re out” policy for their virtual assistants. This means that if an assistant made three significant mistakes, they would be let go. While it may seem harsh, this policy ensures that only the most competent individuals are part of your team, guaranteeing the best possible client experience.


By prioritizing excellence and maintaining high standards, you can build a reputation for delivering top-quality services. Additionally, leveraging existing tools and resources allows you to minimize costs and maximize efficiency. Remember, success lies in continuously improving and refining your offerings to meet the evolving needs of your clients.


With determination, resourcefulness, and a commitment to excellence, you can overcome financial limitations and create a thriving start-up that stands out in the market.

Inspired by a book “Idea to Execution”; Nick Sonnenberg & Ari Meisel

10 minutes read

How to turn your idea into a profitable business

Find out how to start and sustain a successful venture through optimization, automation, and outsourcing.