Stairstep everything

Many bootstrappers are familiar with Rob Walling’s stairstep approach to bootstrapping. It’s Rob’s patented advice for people trying to replace their salaries with recurring revenue, and it goes like this:
– Step 1: Create a one-time sale, single channel product
– Step 2: Repeat step 1 until you can replace your job income
– Step 3: Build a recurring revenue product

Recurring income is the holy grail, but the Stairstep approach suggests you shouldn’t start there. Instead, you should create intermediary steps which are easier to climb, thus minimizing risk and improving the odds of success.

It makes you wonder what else you can “stairstep”. Turns out, lots of things. Stairstepping works best for large goals that can be expensive. Writing a book. Creating a habit that sticks.

Write a book

You may have a great idea for a book (or ebook), so try to stairstep it:
– Step 1: Tweet the idea from different angles and see what (if any) response you get
– Step 2: Flesh it out even more in blog posts
– Step 3: Get started on the book and use the feedback you gathered

Create a habit (like exercising)

– Step 1: create the space for the habit (just go to the gym and come back)
– Step 2: absolute minimum effort (stay for 2 minutes)
– Step 3: increase the time

What does this have to do with calculators?
Paying a programmer (and maybe also a designer) to build a custom calculator for you can get pricey fast. It’s also pretty rigid, in that any later changes are bound to cost more. So you want to be certain the investment is worth it. Perfect scenario to stairstep!

Create a custom calculator (or other custom software)

– Step 1: Try to embed a generic calculator and see the response from your website visitors. (there are ROI calculators, mortgage calculator and many more out there and some of them have handy embed codes available)
– Step 2: Invest in a piece of software like InteractiveCalculator, that will help you create a custom calculator with a minimal investment.
– Step 3: if the feedback you get so far is good, consider paying for a custom coded calculator
PS: this applies for other pieces of software your business may need. Consider investing in an off-the-shelf software solutions before paying for a custom one (in money or time).

We tend to bite more than we can chew and that can lead to wasted effort and worse, discouragement. By taking the stairstep approach you can reduce the risk but still enjoy wins at each step.

What else can you stairstep? Let me know!