During this past December, we were visiting our friends for dinner and my buddy started talking about app ideas. He was joking about being jealous that we had an app out before he did. He’s a techie type guy, with tons of great ideas. But then the topic moved towards my blog. And he asked me about the title – what’s a muse?
Naturally, he thought I was referring to a “muse” in the more literal sense of the source of inspiration for a creative artist.
The confusion led me to realize, not everyone knows what the heck I’m referring to… Even those close to me. I take for granted that my target audience have read Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek (4HWW), and understand the name of the blog – but that’s not always the case.
It’s worth digging a bit deeper into what is meant by a “muse”, in the context of this website and starting a business.
What is a Muse Business
Simply put, a “muse” is an automated cash-flow business.
The goal of finding, testing and scaling a muse business is to “create an automated vehicle for generating cash without consuming time.”
In an interview with About.com, Jesse Phillips – a co-founder of the calendar company NeuYear – explains that a muse is not necessarily sexy or strictly about pursuing your passion. He notes “a muse is about finding a niche where you can make money. Easily. With as little work as possible. The emphasis is on good margin, low effort.”
Why a Muse Business
In the 4HWW, Ferriss cautions readers that his chapter on Testing the Muse is not necessarily for people who want to run businesses, rather it’s designed for those who want to own businesses – while spending little to no time operating them.
He narrowly defines a “muse” specifically to distinguish this vehicle from the more ambiguous term “business”.
Ferriss describes a muse business as having the following characteristics:
- Sales of a product, digital or hard, rather than a service business, which requires active involvement (i.e. not passive). A downloadable or shippable good allows the operator to “escape the limits of a per-hour-based model”;
- Target product shouldn’t cost more than $500 to test and validate. In many cases, testing can be done completely free (without paid advertising) or while getting paid to develop the product, which we expect to cover more here on this blog in the future;
- Should lend itself to automation within a timely manner. He suggests it should only take several weeks, which I suppose is doable for some if this is your one and only priority;
- Once tested, validated and established, shouldn’t require more than one day per week of management.
The above is a very scoped approach to defining a muse business, but within those defining characteristics is the underlying reason why this is the type of startup that one would want to pursue:
- Quick and affordable validation;
- Minimal infrastructure or upfront investment;
- Passive involvement; and
However, that’s just one approach. There is no limit to what may be considered a muse business to each individual. The common denominator is that the vehicle you’re looking to start is to [ultimately] be an automated source of cash flow.
What’s the motivation for seeking a muse business? Muses have the potential to provide the time and financial freedom to realize your target income or savings sooner, rather than strictly limiting yourself to your full-time employment.
Muse businesses often lead to developing a larger business or starting additional companies. Action creates opportunities.
What to Consider Before Starting a Muse Business
“You can create something that a decade ago would have required a staff of 100 people, yet now it’s run by a mother of two who works on it part-time and puts in a few hours a week. It’s the most efficient and effective use of resources.” – Tim on the elegance of muse businesses.
The internet has enabled the services and technology necessary to test and validate, start and run a business from the convenience of your pocket. The tools are available, the costs reduced and the barriers lowered. There has never been a better time to start a business, giving you the income and time, without tethering you to one location.
Technology can play a big role in muse businesses and creating the automation architecture to remove yourself from the equation.
In that regard, muses should be relatively low maintenance to operate. However, that’s not always the case, depending on their need for manufacturing and/or advertising. For example:
- Digital products such as software, app, course, etc. may require upfront development costs, but won’t necessarily have associated manufacturing costs. But they will require ongoing operating (delivery) and advertising costs.
- Shippable goods and gadgets will have manufacturing and shipping expenses, in addition to advertising costs.
- Drop-shipping products or affiliate sales both involve selling someone else’s products. Although these methods don’t involve your upfront manufacturing costs, you may be responsible for logistics, delivery, as well as considerable advertising costs. Remember, other people could [and are] selling the same products – therefore these are commodities. To be successful, the onus is on you to provide a greater value proposition to your market. Or, if you have super-deep pockets, out-advertise your competition.
Regardless of the type of muse business you hope to build, it’s important to test and validate your concept first to help mitigate the risks of unnecessarily wasting money, time and effort on your endeavor.
The only way to successfully develop a muse business is to create something that people actually want – something which solves a problem, adds value, or somehow “scratches an itch” in the marketplace. The best way to determine the potential success for your muse is to do your homework (research) and test and validate your idea first – that’s why we’re here to help at Testing the Muse.
If you’re more of a visual learner – who needs to see the map before you even take your first step – you’re going to love our flowchart on The Architecture of Testing the Muse (click here to download your copy).
The Architecture of Testing the Muse shows you the path, from idea to product – in very little time, with very little money, at very little risk.
Follow this blueprint… and you’ll be able to assess the market and profitability of any idea or business before you even consider dedicating resources to it.
Follow this blog… and we’ll hold your hand while doing it – complete with real examples and real results – as well as tools and resources to help you along the way.
If this resonates with you, or someone you know – please spread the love! Share this post with others on Facebook, Twitter, etc. For that, I would be sincerely grateful. Thank you.