How to Launch a Business from Scratch (part 1 of 3)

For a more in-depth look at building a team and shipping a product to market, check out: Collaborate: The Modern Playbook for Leading a Small Team to Create, Market, and Sell Digital Products Online.

The Open Loop Product Development Framework

The Open Loop Product Development Framework by Tom Morkes

One of the first major projects I collaborated on was a business mastermind for veterans.

What's a business mastermind?

In our case (although they aren't all created equal), it was a 6 month 'a la carte', coach-led, business training program + personal mentoring led by several of today's most successful veteran entrepreneurs online (think millions of listeners, views, and revenue).

The minimum price of entry: $3,000.

A steal for the value (less personalized programs run upwards of $2k - $3k PER MONTH), but expensive as a one-time purchase nonetheless.

The results?

We enrolled a small group of highly motivated students and generated 5-figures in initial revenue, which was enough to kick-start the mastermind, brand, and platform.

This is just another example of the lean launch I wrote about several months ago, and another example of selling on proof of concept alone.

Over the next few weeks, I want to take you behind the scenes of how we did this, including:

  1. How we developed the idea into a shippable product (today’s lesson)
  2. How we developed a lean sales funnel (building an audience from scratch in less than a month)
  3. How we managed to more than quadruple industry standard conversion rates for a live sales webinar (or what I like to call: “The Coffee Is For Closers Technique”)

I’m also rolling this out as a video series.

Would love to know what you think in the comments below.  So once you finish watching, let me know!

What I discuss in Today’s video:

  1. How to develop an idea into a cohesive product and business launch
  2. How to thrash your idea, refine your vision and scope, and launch a premium product
  3. How to apply "The 8 steps of The Open Loop Product Development Framework"

A Brief Overview of The Open Loop Product Development Framework

Every business, product, invention, whatever - starts with an idea.

The idea’s not the hard part.

Forming the idea into a shippable product is.

"The Open Loop Product Development Framework" approaches product  development (and when I say products, I mean in the broader sense, including services) from the angle of progressive refinement.

In other words: every element of what goes into developing a successful product (or service) is interconnected. Every element affects every other element.

If you change the customer segment, this will affect your marketing and sales channels, which affects the problem you're solving, which affects the solution you can offer (and so on and so forth).

If you decide to charge more for your product, this changes the revenue model, which directly affects how we define the problem, who our first customers will be, etc.

Hence: open loop.

The 8 Step of The Open Loop Product Development Framework:

Step 1: Identify the first 10 / first 100

Step 2: Determine: is the problem real or faux?

Step 3: Refine and define the solution

Step 4: Define your unfair advantage (why should we pay attention to you? what makes it impossible for someone to copy what you’re doing?)

Step 5: Identify how you will reach your first 10 / first 100 customers

Step 6: Determine revenue + expenses (how much do you plan to make from this? is it worth your time and effort?)

Step 7: Set a ship date

Step 8: Go back through steps 1 - 6 several times before the vision is refined (don’t take longer than a couple days) then start building your product / service / offer

Was The Open Loop Product Development Framework Useful?

If so, let me know if the comments below.

And also let me know:

  1. what else you’d like to read?
  2. what other information would be useful?
  3. what could be explained in more detail?

Check back next week for an update on how we developed our lean sales funnel and built an audience from scratch in less than a month.


Started, finished, and shipped in Denver, Colorado

Soundtrack: Bon Iver Pandora Station

Total writing and filming time: 5:40 hrs

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10 comments on “How to Launch a Business from Scratch (part 1 of 3)”

  1. Tom, I really like the video. I like the addition of the captions, haven't seen that done before. Your voice and delivery was excellent. Just one thing you need to work on is lighting, your face is clear, but your eyes have a shadow. I've actually, in a way been doing this thrashing you spoke of. I've written two blogs, posting on LinkedIn, my blog, and Medium. I'm actually picking up more followers on my blog that are on the same page as me, but I don't see them necessarily as customers. I plan to write another blog, then I'm going to do a blog or landing page survey. Trusting that by that time I should have at least 10. I'm also getting dropped lots of new sources from women entrepreneurs - giving free information that is helpful. But, from you, always interested in how to build my list. Would love you to talk about the 1-1-1 on this series - and where you found people to ask to guest blog and how you did it. Examples of your lead magnets, lead and sales pages would be of benefit too. All I can think of for now. Thanks for all of this good information.

    1. Skywalker, thanks so much! Will DEFINITELY talk about the 1-1-1 method (it's exactly what i'll be talking about next blog post and how we created the lean sales funnel for this premium product).

      Thanks for your feedback!

  2. Great video Tom. First just like to say your float social bar is slightly in the way of writing this comment and is a bit distracting 🙂
    Loved the video for how you went through step by step on how to do create, research your ideal customer, find the market and problem and then launch after tweaking loops. Looks like a good way to create a superior product you know will sell with confidence its going to make a difference to someones life. It would be great to have the following: a walk through detailed example. I know you mentioned how you did your product launch but some more details would be good on finding the first 10 ideal customers who has the problem you have a solution for, and the last points of the loop where you go back and forth from customer to product, to refine it - would be good to have a walk through example in more details. I am probably want to learn how to suck eggs, but as someone who is new to this online world and has not done this sort of thing before, having a solid example of this technique would be great.

    1. Jane - thanks for the comment. Fixing the social bar issue right now. 🙂

      Love the suggestions - will take this back to the drawing board to answer these questions specifically (great questions!)

      Thanks so much for the feedback Jane!

  3. Tom, I love the video and the open loop concept. I'm working my way through it now.

    The chief request I have is to post a transcript of the video. I am very often not in a place where I can watch/listen to a video, and having a reference to come back to ("What was step 4 again?") would be very valuable.

    Many thanks,

    1. Jremy, thanks so much for the comment! great feedback.

      I'll work on this...while a transcript is pretty heavy work for a video, I'll do my best to collect the key points into a downloadable PDF from now on.

      Thanks Jeremy!

      - Tom

  4. Thanks! I love the concept which is quite different from what I read before. I guess I need to work on "the unfair advantage" because I think most people has the same products or services now in the market.

    Would looking forward if you are going to write something about this - "how to define or create your unfair advantages?"

    Awesome work!

  5. I could listen to you speak all day long! Awesome content Tom, looking forward to seeing what else you have on offer.