Eight months into my quest of turning my passions into an income source, I’ve been largely met with, well… failure.  After spending countless weekend hours working on various projects, I still couldn’t afford a week’s worth of groceries with the money I’ve earned thus far.    

So tonight I sit here reflecting on my struggles and ask myself what have I done wrong?  Between this blog, my virtual tour guide service and mentoring efforts, nothing has developed consistent results.  

Surely the dollars should’ve started flowing by now?  Nope! 

It’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Luckily there are always ways to pivot and new lessons to be learned. Tonight during my review I happened to stumble across a useful idea generation exercise from serial entrepreneur and side revenue expert Ramit Sethi.

He developed a simple system for testing out business ideas called the 1-2 Punch Method. I want to share this with you today so that you can avoid many of my mistakes and flip your brain into an idea creation mindset. Here we go!


1-2 Punch Method 

With this method, which Ramit claims has helped thousands of his students, there are two crucial steps created to test out your big idea BEFORE you waste an exorbitant amount of time on it (if only I had this back in April).  Anyways…it goes like this:

Step 1: Generate Your Idea

First you need to brainstorm a list of your skills and figure out which ones could translate into a service that you could offer people.  Write down EVERYTHING that comes to mind.  Nothing is too crazy.  On this step it’s good to think outside the box.  

And if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, ask your best friends!  I did this exercise recently and sent an email to two of my best friends and my sister that contained these three questions:

1. What would you say my best skills are?
2. Of these skills, are there any of which you can see people paying me for?
3. Is there anything I do better than anyone else you know?

Here is a list of the ideas that I came up with from this step:


Now, after gathering your own thoughts and picking out your top idea it’s time to move onto the all-important second step – a step that may have saved me countless hours.

Step 2: Validate Your Idea

In this critical step, you must carefully analyze your idea from Step 1 and ask yourself if people will actually PAY YOU for your idea.  If you can’t see any reason for people to pay you for your idea then you need throw it out and move on. 

In order to figure this out, Ramit teaches that you must ask yourself these two questions:

A) Is your prospect ABLE to pay? 
B) Is your prospect WILLING to pay?

Let’s go over each:

A) Is your prospect ABLE to pay?

Here you want to consider the niche you’re targeting.  Does your niche have the means to pay for your potential service?  If not, then you probably should consider targeting a more affluent group. 

Now if you determine you’ve found a group that is able to pay, then it’s time address Question B.  

B) Is your prospect WILLING to pay? 

What you’re essentially trying to figure out here is if your service is worth enough for your audience to pay you for it.  This can be a dead end for many ideas and I think is the key problem with my own ideas thus far.  

While you may have a skill and a target that makes sense, if the target prospect doesn’t feel motivated to buy the service then you have failed.  You’re not providing enough value or you don’t know your audience well enough.  

For me I have felt the pain of this reality through my Boston Tour Guide business as many people think it’s a cool idea, but few have been motivated to put their money where their mouth is.  They don’t perceive it to be of enough value for the price.  Because of this I am currently rethinking my approach there and am now trying some new complimentary services that I hope people will be WILLNG to pay for.  We’ll see.


Overall though, I found Ramit’s exercise to be extremely useful for me to reset and reassess all of my projects.  What I’ve found is that while I am great at the idea generation step, I usually move too fast and neglect idea validation.  This has been detrimental to my progress on generating income from my side projects. 

But I’m happy to be learning.  I’m happy to be growing.  And I’m happy to be failing. 

Now it’s your turn! Will you fail and grow with me?

Here I’ve given you a link to Ramit’s website where you can access all of his free training.  Finally, I’ve provided a picture of the exercise I ran in my own apartment, so that you can copy and run it on your end.   

Good luck and don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter Fired Up Friday below to receive more lessons and tips like this weekly!

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Idea Generation: Ramit Sethi’s 1-2 Punch Formula
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