How to Start a Business that Makes Sense (Using the CENTS Commandments)

When I dove head first into creating my first real business, I had no idea what I was doing.

Outside of the fact that I loved fantasy sports and believed deep down that daily fantasy sports was going to be the future of how millions of Americans would play fantasy from then on, the business was simply an idea with no proof or validation of the concept (outside of one or two competitors who seemed to be funded and gaining traction).

My gut ended up being spot on, as the industry began to grow rapidly over the next few years. Unfortunately my business was not part of that growth, as we dealt with a ton of technical issues and lack of money. 

After moving on from that business, I dove into a handful of others.

But something that took me YEARS to figure out, that would’ve saved me a ridiculous amount of TIME and MONEY was how to determine what kind of business to start and/or get involved in.

A method behind the madness, versus just going into the madness blindfolded head first without any solid philosophy and rationalization in mind outside of the potential that it may have had to make some money.

When I picked up the Millionaire Fastlane by MJ Demarco and began learning about the CENTS Commandments, suddenly it dawned on me how ineffective I was being (and how deep of a hole I was digging for myself) during the crucial initial phases of deciding whether or not to start a specific business, or how to best go about finding and creating one.

Had I discovered this book years ago, there’s no telling the positive or negative impact it might’ve had on me back then; if it would’ve be effective and applied properly, or if I was too young and wouldn’t have grasped it and allowed the concepts to soak in, we’ll never know.

What I do know for a fact is that the amount of heartbreak and ups and downs I’ve encountered over the years, to come to this realization on my own, could’ve been prevented had I had these essential tools in my back pocket.

Which is why I’m ecstatic to share these Five Commandments with you today, so that you can bypass the many bumps in the road towards the path of success.

Obvious DisclaimerThis concept is not an end all be all. It’s possible to satisfy only a few of the commandments and still create a very successful and highly profitable business. The point of the five commandments is to help open your eyes and understand aspects of business creation on a macro scale. How to think bigger and wiser so that you can set yourself up for maximum success prior to simply jumping into a new venture just because you think it’s a good idea.

The CENTS Commandments 

C – Control

First up is Control. Before starting a business you must ask yourself the level of control and influence that you’ll have so that you can take your company to the promised land.

If it’s an internet business, will you be overly reliant on Google? Is your plan to do Search Engine Optimization and rank for keywords on the top page of Google, or run Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns to bring in the bulk of your business?

What about Amazon? If you’re starting a store do you plan to sell all of your products through their marketplace?

The point is, if you put all of your eggs into one basket, one main method to drive sales for your business that is completely out of your control (Google changes their algorithm daily, and Amazon can change their terms at any given moment), you could be in for a disaster.

The first of the five commandments requires you to have as much control over your company as possible, so that you can directly influence and navigate the direction of where your business will go. If you must rely on some of the sharks mentioned above, it’s ideal to diversify your sources of sales so that you dilute and limit the amount of control that they have.

E – Entry 

Are you thinking about getting involved in an industry that’s “trending” where everyone and their mom is joining in on the fun?

Is it super simple to get the business up and operating within just a short period of time?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you’re not really solving a problem. If you want to start a business that grows beyond your wildest dreams, you have to solve a problem (more of this in the next commandment).

You must seek out opportunities that have many barriers to entry. Concepts and ideas where it takes creativity, uniqueness and time to develop, this way your competition is slim at best while your potential to dominate the market that your niche is in soars.

Something difficult to tap into is where golden opportunities live.

N – Need

Next up is Need, arguably the most important factor to consider.

Don’t start a business based on what you’re passionate about. Typically, nobody cares about what you want or need, they care about what they want and need.

In order to truly build a successful business you must create something of value. Something that others need, can use for convenience sake or addresses a common problem that has yet to be solved.

Simply put, if you can truly impact millions with value, you’ll make millions in return.

T – Time

Time can be a difficult one. As typically when you start a business you are the engine the runs the company, the star of the show. Without you, the business doesn’t operate.

While it’s perfectly understandable to invest a lot of your time into the business that you choose to dive into, one very crucial and key aspect needs to be considered first.

Can you automate this business, and extract yourself from the equation where it can function and run successfully and profitably without your involvement?

It’s absolutely necessary to learn to automate so that you can generate income without personally having to put the time in to make the money.

If you can get to the point where your making money “through” time, versus “in” time then you’ve found yourself a very attractive business to invest into. But first consider the fifth and final commandment.

S – Scale

Is your business idea big enough?

Can your business be seen by millions upon millions of potential customers?

Or are you looking to

-open up a store in your local city where the number of people that can visit on a daily basis is capped or limited?
-start an internet business where it’s super niche and drilled down to only a very select few individuals?

If you answered yes to either of these, you may still be in luck.

While a local city store is limited in it’s reach, it’s possible to build 100s or even 1000s of stores nationwide (even worldwide) IF the business can become highly profitable within a short period of time and is easily replicated, and follows the four other previous commandments.

In regards to a niche internet business, this could work in your favor IF the targeted demographic you plan to focus on generates significant income and would be willing to pay you a hefty amount for your product/services. In this scenario, you could generate large quantities of income by limiting your scaling to a specific audience.

The point is, when it comes to scaling you must strategically think about what is going to turn a profit quickly and give you the best chances of impacting the masses immediately (or just a select few high net worth individuals if you go that route).

A list of a few different types of online businesses that satisfy the Five Commandments

-Ecommerce (online store selling products)
-Subscription service (charging monthly, annual fees, etc for your service)
-Content focused (exclusive content for a fee, or generate income via advertising)
-Lead generation (selling potential customers to companies)

To wrap it all up

Take your time and carefully consider your options before starting your next business. Think about all of the potential outcomes and scenarios that could very well play out, and be sure to factor in the five commandments of CENTS to ensure that you set yourself up for success from the very beginning.

“If millions seek you, you will be paid millions.”
― M.J. DeMarco, The Millionaire Fastlane

“Stop thinking about business in terms of your selfish desires, whether it’s money, dreams or “do what you love.” Instead, chase needs, problems, pain points, service deficiencies, and emotions.”
― M.J. DeMarco, The Millionaire Fastlane