Start a Business Challenge: From $0 to $100,000 yearly income

I’m starting over from scratch.

I’m building a business from the ground up and trying to grow it to $100,000 in yearly income. You can get weekly email updates of my progress by subscribing for free here.

I titled this journey “Zero To Black” because I’m taking a business from nothing to “in the black” or profitable.

My name is Ryan Luedecke and I am currently the sole owner & operator of SumoJerky which is a subscription beef jerky club. It’s a pretty good business that does about $25k per month in revenue, but it’s flawed in some ways and wasn’t my idea to begin with. It’s also very stressful.

So I’m going to start something new.

My plan is to share everything with you:

  1. Coming up with the idea
  2. Launching the product
  3. Fine tuning the operations
  4. Growing the business
  5. Selling it (maybe)

I don’t have a business idea decided yet, but I have taken the first step by asking you to join me.

What can you expect?

You’ll get in-depth details on what it’s like to start a business, including actual numbers. I’ll check in once a week to give you progress updates. When I have big “aha’s” or breakthroughs, I’ll create a how-to guide that you can bookmark and use as a resource.

If you want to start your own business (or improve an existing one) right now, you can do it in real-time with me. At a minimum, you can read the emails now and come back to them when you are ready to start your own business.

If you’re already a successful business person, I expect my experiences will offer some comfort and a few laughs. You may also get useful tips on how to grow your business.

This won’t be an attempt to create a business overnight. It’ll take time. Expect a slow burn like your favorite HBO drama.

Rather than waiting to master things before I share them, I’ll be using the “learn out loud” method of sharing things as I go: false starts, failures, and all.

I’ll be sharing the tactics that help my business specifically but also the principles that should be broadly applicable to any business.

What’s been done so far?

I started by creating a weekly newsletter with 100 readers so I could have some momentum and support.

The outreach process took me out of my comfort zone. I hadn’t hustled on a project like this since SumoJerky started.

I started with a list of 0 people and vowed not to use my existing list.

Invites went to family and close friends first so I could get them involved and build my confidence.

From there, I emailed more friends, coworkers, code school classmates, subscription box owners, local entrepreneurs and people in the jerky industry whom I’ve worked with in the past.

Every invite was written personally by me, no automation.

Each time I contacted someone, I tried to answer the question: “why would he or she be interested in this project?”

I didn’t always have an up-to-date email for the person so I had to use tools like Facebook Messenger to connect with some people. That was awkward for me as I rarely use Facebook, much less their Messenger service, and I didn’t want to be disrupting people’s workday.

Ultimately, I decided the benefit of having a good-sized base of engaged readers outweighed the discomfort of “going door-to-door” on Facebook.

One time-saving thing I did was to export lists of my Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts.

The Facebook export gave me a single-column list of my friends’ names which made it easy to scan & identify those who were the best fit for my newsletter (versus scrolling through endlessly on Facebook).

The Linkedin export provided the names and email addresses of everyone in my business network. Having the email address included in the LinkedIn export definitely saved me some time.

To motivate myself to get 100 readers, I used 1 reward and 1 restriction. My reward was to take my wife out for sushi. She is a great supporter and a huge part of this project so I wanted to make sure she was included in the reward.

My restriction was that I couldn’t publish this post until I had 100 readers. That took me about 2 weeks of personal outreach. I wanted to make sure I didn’t jump the gun too early and start without a decent amount of momentum.

What’s next?

I need to come up with a business idea. That scares me. I’ve written a blog post about how to come up with business ideas, but I haven’t followed through on one of my own ideas in a long time.

I’ll post an update once a week to report my progress on finding a business idea and share anything useful or interesting.

The best way to ensure you don’t miss a progress report is to sign up for my weekly newsletter below this post if you haven’t already.

Excited to have you come along.


Follow Ryan as he creates a business.

Subscribe for free to follow along as Ryan starts a new business from scratch and tries to grow it to $100,000 in yearly income.

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