Build a Profitable Business Self-Study

Learn the fundamental sales, marketing, product and finance skills you'll need to build a profitable business.

Build a Profitable Business Framework.

StartupRunner was created by and for those of us, entrepreneurs who are doers. The grinders. The people that just slug it out in the real world of building businesses, learning as we go. This lecture given by StartupRunner founder Derick Thompson about the key insights from Build a Profitable Business will help you integrate important business theory, sales and marketing practices, in a practical manner you can use as you do work everyday to build a profitable business.


All profitable businesses start with a person like you. An entrepreneur that is willing to step out in faith that they'll be able to create a product customer love, buy and as a result build a lasting business. If you're the type of person that can see something where nothing exists and is willing to take the risk to forgo making money in the short run to build wealth in the long run - you may have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. captures the essence of what it means to be an entrepreneur beautifully.


Before you start your foray into entrepreneurship it's important to get your bearings and understand what type of profitable business you're setting out to build. Are you setting out to create a small medium enterprise (SEM) that you could grow to be big or innovative company that will be trying to re-segment or create an entirely new market. Bill Aulet, director of MIT's accelerator explains how to think about which type of entrepreneurship you're pursuing.

Why Startup?

Entrepreneurship is in vogue. Everyone has an idea for a product or service. It's become common for entrepreneurs to pitch investors on their latest idea asking for funding. Product ideas are not enough. You have to dig deeper and figure out the compelling reason why the world needs you to create a business. It may be functional, not even sexy, but the world has plenty of products no one uses sitting on shelves. Simon Sinek explains in his TedX talk how essential it is for you to have a compelling reason WHY you want to launch a startup and build a profitable business.

Ideas vs. Problems

If you're determined to launch a startup you have the opportunity to avoid early failure by making sure you understand that your startup isn't about you - it's about your customers. Your customers already know what problems they have. Your job as an entrepreneurs is to discover how to best solve those problems. Profitable businesses grow out of startups that don't get lost chasing shinny new features of their product or service. Bikash Barai explains during his TedX talk why if you start with the product idea you'll dramatically increase your chances of failure.

Jobs To Be Done

Identifying a customer problem is just the start. To build a profitable business you have to go beyond the problem and figure out what your future customers will pay your startup to help them get done. If you fail to align your startup activities to a job to be done you'll struggle to sell to customers in the future. Clayton Christensen explains the Job To Be Done framework in a lecture at Phoenix university.

Customer Empathy

Customers hold the critical insights you need to quickly and efficiently build a profitable business. The only way you'll be able to listen and learn from customers is if you have the ability to show empathy. Stop talking, start listening and you'll begin to understand what value your business can create. The team at CogSai simply explain what empathy is and how it works.

Customer Development

There comes a point for every entrepreneur when they must decide if they are willing to get outside the building and test their assumptions with potential customers. Leaving the guess work behind and testing hypothesis with customers in the real world to see what they think about the product you want to offer them. Steve Blanks explains how you can do this using the Customer Development process.

Value Proposition

A startup is a conduit for delivering value to customers. Being able to simply articulate exactly how you think you're creating value is must have for entrepreneurs. Alex Osterwalder provides a simple explanation of how to think about and articulate your unique value proposition.

Customer Segmentation

In order to group and better understand your customers you must segment them into identifiable groups. Once customers are grouped you can start to understand what their behaviors mean for your product development efforts startup activities. Dan Riaz from 500 startups explains customer segmentation concepts and how they relate to customer acquisition.

Beachhead Market

Startups usually target large markets of customers instead of focusing on a smaller more addressable market which they can efficiently market, sell and create tremendous value for. Picking the right beachhead market is a make or break decision as you start to accelerate customer acquisition in the growth stage of your startup. Bill Aulet author of Discipline Entrepreneurship offers a simple definition for thinking about a beachhead market.

Customer Adoption

Entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking their first few sales mean there's a big market of customers just waiting to buy their product. To building a profitable business that can scale you must in fact be able to sell to mainstream customers. Geoffrey Moore author of Cross the Chasm explains how there are 5 phases of product adoption by customers and the importance of a beachhead marketing approach to going to market.

Product Market Fit

If your startup has a product customers want - they'll tell you when they buy it and tell their friends to buy it as well. Words are cheap - transactions are hard core data points that you've got something your beachhead market wants. Marc Andreessen explains how critical it is to validate product market fit before you start spending time building out supporting business structures.

AARRR Metrics Sales Funnel

Customer acquisition is happening online at least in part for most startups. Even if you can't acquire a customer online - you should be thinking about your sales funnel in similar, simple terms. Dave McClure from 500 startups presents the AARRR metrics as an easy way to think about how you'll have to acquire, activate, retain, get referrals and revenue from customers.

Inbound Marketing

Getting noticed by your target customers is about generating content that your customers actually care about and want to engage with. Inbound marketing is the buzzword for the process through which entrepreneurs can attract and engage with customers in an authentic value adding fashion. Brian Halligan CEO of the inbound marketing automation tool Hubspot explains what inbound marketing is and how to think about its potential impact on your startup.

Marketing Website

Every startup must have an online presence to point customer at for info and engagement with their sales funnel. Services like Squarespace offer a turn key service or you can build your own low cost free marketing site using the WordPress content managment system. The team from TechnologyGru offer a end to end tutorial on how to build and launch a simple wordpress marketing site.

Blog Posts

Writing blog posts is the core activity in any good content marketing strategy. Chances are you're using Wordpress to manage your blog and marketing site. DesignTuts outlines how to post blogs to your site in this tutorial.

Landing Page Split Testing

When using marketing campaigns to drive traffic to your website you ALWAYS need to use landing pages that contain a custom message for the audience you're attracting. You should be able to quickly launch new landing pages and then use Google Analytics to split test which messages and layouts perform best overtime. The team at Thrive Themes provides a informative overview of how landing page split testing works.

Web Forms

Webforms allow your marketing site to turn prospects into leads. If you're using Wordpress - gravity forms makes building and launching forms easy. myWPexpert explains how this works even with collecting transactions.

Google Analytics

Actionable data is the key to being able to make decisions in your business. Your marketing site is on the front lines collecting data about how people are interacting with your brand, products, sales and marketing program. Google analytics is the standard tool for gathering and collecting this critical information and Kamila Gornia from BlowUpOnline Marketing provides a quick overview of GA.

Google Tag Manager

Attracting prospects, nurturing prospects into leads and converting leads to customers online is a core activity for all entrepreneurs. Google Tag manager in-conjunction with Google Analytics makes tracking your online funnel manageable for even non-technical entrepreneurs. The team at GA Demos provides a quick overview of GTM and how event tracking works.


API's are how web applications speak to each other. You use to be a developer to get your CRM talking with your Website taking with your AD management platform. No longer - tools like Zapier make it easy for none technical entrepreneurs to connect all their web tools together. Steve from Dot To Tech explains how you can quickly automate repeatable processes in your business.