If you want to launch your startup, start building a muse

If there were one recommendation I would give to first time entrepreneurs, it would be to build a muse.

I’m referring to a meaning of “muse” popularized by Tim Ferriss — a business requiring very little time once launched and whose only purpose is to earn you a living. Other people also call it a passive income business.

Muses - Musée du Louvre, Paris In ancient Greece, Muses are the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts

If I hadn’t created my muses first, I would probably never had launched any successful startup. It brought me two essential things at the early stage: revenue and knowledge.

Revenue

Let’s face it. Launching a startup is hard. You have six months, maybe one year or two years, and after that, the game is over.

How does a muse solve this problem?

By definition, a muse has for only goal to earn enough revenue for yourself. You will target a niche market where your chances of success are much higher than your ambitious startup project. When you realize the goal of your muse is to get $100 a day, doesn’t it look much more reachable?

Starting a company is all about fighting to make sure you don’t run out of cash or time. Once you have a muse, the equation becomes much simpler. Now you have a revenue stream every month and therefore time to iterate on your startup ideas. If your muse went well, you even have some money to invest in your project.

Knowledge

If you read or watch startup-related content, you might have heard it one hundred times: everything that matters is execution. This execution depends on your capacity to learn about anything.

Building a muse is a great opportunity to go through all the entrepreneurial stages and gather precious knowledge that might make the difference in your bigger projects.

I can’t count the number of times at Hunter that I figured out “I already did this before” thanks to my previous smaller projects.

Having a muse in the same field as your startup project is a good point, but it’s not necessary. You’ll learn fundamental skills that will be useful anyway.

How to start your muse

You must be thinking: “Ok, it sounds nice. But how exactly am I supposed to create this muse? If it were easy to generate passive income, everybody would do it”.

You’re right. Even if it’s less ambitious than your dream startup, it can be a challenge.

The goal of a startup is to conquer a market (or even to “disrupt” it). A muse is more about fixing its little inefficiencies. The problem you want to solve is much smaller.

I can’t give you a recipe because there isn’t, but I can share my own experience.

At that time, I was targeting frequent searches on Google and trying to dominate a few niches I identified with quality content.

The niches I was selecting were:

  • Non-commercial and with low competition. It let me quickly rank well on search engines, and keep my leading position in the long run without spending time on it.
  • With a rather substantial volume. To compensate for the low buying intent, I had to target niches with significant traffic.

I have been monetizing with advertising, affiliation, or by directly selling products.

Google Adsense payment email Adsense probably the easiest way to monetize traffic, but rarely the most efficient.

My muses were mostly based on SEO and ad monetization, but it doesn’t mean it’s a model to follow. There are plenty of other business models that would make perfect sources of passive income.

Seven years later, my muses are still active even though the revenue has slightly decreased. These are not projects I’m passionate about, but I’m glad I worked on them because they made my entrepreneurial journey possible.