Book Review - Zero to One Million by Ryan P. Allis
I was offered a copy of the book Zero to One Million: How I Built A Company to $1 Million in Sales . . . and How You Can, Too by Ryan P. Allis, and thought I would give it a look. What I expected was some "secret program" on how to quickly become a business success (like those ever work!) What it turned out to be instead was a solid read on what it takes to start and run a business, the trade-offs you need to consider, and just how much work it really is. There's no "secret" that he's trying to push or sell... it's just a sharing of reality.
Part 1 - My Story - Going from Zero to One Million: Getting Off the Ground; Becoming an Entrepreneur
Part 2 - The 10-Step Process For Building A Company To $1 Million In Sales: Step 1 - Understand the System; Step 2 - Find Your Core Motivation; Step 3 - Evaluate Your Idea; Step 4 - Write Your Plan; Step 5 - Raise Funding or Bootstrap; Step 6 - Develop Your Product; Step 7 - Develop Your Marketing and Sales Strategy; Step 8 - Build Your Online Marketing Strategy; Step 9 - Build Your Team; Step 10 - Build Strong Systems and Scale
Part 3 - Steps for Success
Appendixes: Financial Vocabulary; Recommended Books; Resources for Entrepreneurs; The Mission of the Humanity Campaign; Join the Community at Zeromillion.com
As I mentioned, this sounded like one of those "try my method and you'll always succeed" titles. These are generally the people who are making most of their money from selling their "methods" and not actually doing what they talk about. :) Anyway, Allis starts out by talking about the path he took from repairing PCs as a 12 year old in 1998 to running a software company tallying nearly $7 million in sales in 2007. Along the way, he dealt with partnerships, hiring, venture capital, marketing, you name it. Not too many 23 year olds can boast that level of education and experience (not to mention net worth) that early in life. This leads into Part 2 of the book, which covers the steps he took and the things you need to consider when starting and growing a business.
The information is valuable from Step 1 forward. He starts out by defining the difference between a lifestyle company and a high potential venture. There's nothing wrong with either, and it's entirely up to you as to what you want to do. But there are considerable differences in the amount of work, the potential payout, and the eventual exit strategy between the two. He's obviously gone the venture route, as that's the path that leads to the highest payout with the possibility of becoming independently wealthy. It also means you can fail big and lose it all. But that's how it works... high risk, high reward. Probably the closest he comes to a "system" is the MAR model for evaluating potential opportunities. That stands for Market, Advantages, Return. If you walk your business idea through those questions, you'll be forced to look at it in a way that strips out the emotion and determines the possibilities for success. Very good questions to ask BEFORE you sink your money into a business. Everything beyond step 3 is solid, time-tested advice and wisdom on starting and running a business from someone who's "been there, done that".
Reading this book and applying his principles and ideas does not guarantee that your business *will* top a million dollars in sales. But I can pretty much guarantee that starting a business *without* having this level of information thought out beforehand will dramatically decrease your long-term chances of success. You could try and make all the mistakes on your own, but why touch the stove when someone already told you it was hot? A really good read...