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The blog for ambitious founders.

My blog covers the MANY highs and lows of starting, scaling and selling my business for 7-figures, in just 4 years. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur then add your email below to get a new episode delivered every Wednesday.

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The Molzi Story, day minus-240.

In my opinion, your business only launches the day that you have your first client.

Obviously there are exceptions, for companies that need to build a product or buy stock, but for a service business there should be no reason why you can't have income immediately.

Now I'm not saying that it's easy to sign clients or generate revenue. I just mean that you should do the groundwork before you start relying on your new enterprise to pay the bills.

The big risk of course is that you don't end up actually launching. As long as you have a nice comfortable income, then it's difficult to really feel the need to hustle. I had that exact feeling, and found a way to get my head in gear.

So I thought I'd share it with you. Just in case there are any budding entrepreneurs out there with an idea and an ambition, but just need to be pushed over the edge.

I first came up with the idea for my agency in September 2016. Well, my wife actually came up with the idea. But as this is my blog, I can bend the truth slightly. Don't believe everything you read on the internet etc.

Anyway, my agency ended up launching on 1st May 2017. A whole 240 days later.

So The Molzi Story actually began on day -240.

Celebrating resignation day. 31st January 2017.

Day -240

I had the idea, and that quickly turned into a business plan (you can read it here). But I also had a good job with a very comfortable income.

It's easy for me to say to people now, "go for it", but I remember the feeling and it's hard. We had a 4 month old baby, and we had lots of bills to pay.

So my desire to start day 1 with income wasn't a strategy. It was a necessity.

I'm pretty risk adverse in general. I didn't want to create financial stress for myself or my family. But I absolutely wanted to make the move into self-employment. I knew this was the right idea and the right time for me.

So I made it real by choosing a launch date, far far in the future.

I gave myself 8 months to get my life and my business ready for 1st May 2017.

Just by confirming a date and telling lots of people, it made it real. But I wasn't crippled with anxiety because I knew I had time to get things ready. I backed myself that there was no way I couldn't create a basic income within 8 months.

Day -210

From the moment I confirmed the Molzi launch date, I started to become obsessed with it. I started writing lists of all the things I needed to get done before 1st May.

It was a long list, much of which I didn't have the skills or experience to do at the time.

But it wasn't daunting, it was exciting. I had 7 months to go still. No rush. Plenty of time.

I started to work backwards from the launch date and add in some key milestones into the calendar.

I had a 3 month notice period for my employment at the time. I didn't want any gap in income, so I knew that I'd need to resign on the 31st January 2017. I knew I'd need to register the company a couple of months ahead, and start the process of opening a business bank account (back in the day before Monzo & co this was a nightmare).

Every time I added one of these big milestones onto the calendar, it made it all become more and more real.

Day -180

I started playing around with ideas for names of my agency. Then logos, and client facing decks.

The process of doing this helped me really have to understand what my agency would do and what the value would be to a potential client.

It's easy to write a long rambling description of what you do, or fill up 15 slides with tonnes of text. But to summarise the value into 2 or 3 slides that a potential client could understand without you presenting, requires you to really refine the details.

Again, the process of naming the company, and creating the assets, meant that everything felt real. There was no fears of losing income, or resigning from my job. I was just following a timetable that was so far on schedule.

Day -150

5 months to go until I wave goodbye to my regular monthly income. 2 months to go until I have to resign. It was time to start planning to make sure I would be able to afford to eat after 30th April.

Back to my trusty calendar schedule. I figured that to be able to invoice revenue in May, I really would need a few months run up. It would mean starting to work in stealth during my 3 month notice period, but as there was no conflict, and I could work on Molzi in the evenings I decided I was comfortable with that!

My 'worrier' brain was keen to understand exactly how many clients I would need in order to pay the bills from day 1, so I worked it out. Signing 3 clients would mean I basically replicated my employment income straight away. I had around 10,000 connections on Linkedin at that point, so I was pretty comfortable it was possible.

Time to start networking.

Day -120

I started with a handful of former colleagues just to get their feedback on the concept of Molzi. I sent my deck and asked for their brutal feedback. I actually learned a valuable lesson at this stage. The process of asking for feedback is a very effective way of selling. Without selling.

It's a strategy that we ended up using all the way until the end at Molzi. Signing clients like Unilever, simply by asking for feedback on things.

I managed to quickly get a warm pipeline together (not that I knew what a pipeline was at that point). But even more valuable was the small suggested tweaks to the offering or the commercials. All of these small tweaks add up. And before I knew it, the offering was pretty different to the original, but with the benefit of being tested and adapted by real life feedback.

It's the reason why I urge anyone starting up a business to avoid investing large sums of money into websites, sales materials etc until they're 3 or even 6 months down the road. No matter how perfect you think your offering is, you only really know once you've tested it with paying customers.

Day -90

Resignation day was here.

Back in day -240 I imagined this would be a very nerve-racking event. But thanks to the pre-planning, the overriding feeling was frustration that I still had 3 months to wait until launch day!

Day -60

Now I was in my notice period, I could start talking a bit more openly with potential clients. I started to really use Linkedin regularly, and take advantage from the fact it was still really a job site back then. Direct messages and connection requests weren't received with the same scepticism that they are nowadays!

I was feeling really confident that I would get the 3 clients that I needed, in time for 1st May launch. But in order to reduce the pressure on myself further I also started optimising my personal finances.

I figured that it would be a bit of a morale hit for us to have to start cutting our personal costs after starting the business. But if we could cut out all luxuries in advance, then I could start gradually adding them back in once the business started working.

The excitement of starting the agency, meant that it felt like no hardship to start cancelling subscriptions, gym memberships etc. Again it just made everything feel like it was really happening, and also meant that really I only needed 2 paying clients from day 1.

Day -30

All go with just a month until launch.

The company was registered. The bank account was open. I had learned how to do basic bookkeeping. And... I had the first 2 clients ready to sign.

What I hadn't prepared for was what happened next.

Do I need to send them a contract? What do I actually do once they have signed? A slight panic few days of Googling and piecing together a contract from bits I could find online.

I'm not sure if things like Docusign existed back then. If they did, I didn't know about them. So it was good old fashioned printing of contracts, signing them and scanning. But what a rush when I got them back signed. Such an amazing feeling to know that it was happening, and all of the planning had worked.

It felt like everything would be easy from day 1 onwards. But, anyone that's run an agency before knows that it's anything but easy!

Character-building might be a better description.

Check out the rest of The Molzi Story here.


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