ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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Business Lacking Direction? Start With the Money.

In: Money Talk

Imagine you're seven years old, and you've never cooked anything before, so help your Fisher Price kitchenette.

But suddenly you're home alone, and you're tasked with making yourself a meal. So naturally, you do what any seven year old would do: You get a big pot, and you start putting your favorite things into it.

Pepperoni pizza—fucking delicious.
Chips Ahoy? Goin' IN.
Strawberry Pop Tarts—who's your daddy.
What's up, meatballs!
Dash of chocolate syrup…
Some leftover mashed potatoes…
Three frozen onion rings for good measure.
Oh! And Swedish Fish. Don't ever do anything without Swedish Fish. (It should be a law.)

You mix it all together (stirring pizza is surprisingly difficult), spread it out onto a cookie sheet, and slide it on into the microwave (you're seven, after all.) When you pull it out to eat, however—surprise!—it's disgusting. What went wrong? You put lots of delicious things into it…shouldn't something delicious come out?

You and I both know that that's not the way food works (unfortunately). Rather, you and I and most normal humans do the opposite: We start out with some idea of what we want to make, and then follow a recipe to get there. Logical, right? Yet somehow, the minute we step foot out of the kitchen, we all revert back into our seven year old selves as soon as it's time to start planning out a meal business.

Too many business plans start with, “Well, I like this, and this, and oh I'm very  good at this!  Why don't I just combine these all into one business? It'll be perfect!”

Here's why it may not be: Unless you can pull your love for saxophones, life coaching, snorkeling and kickboxing all together under one cohesive brand that makes sense in a given market, your business is going to be the equivalent of the “pizza slash sushi restaurant” that everybody knows to stay away from.

A common problem new businesses have is that they forget to start in the place that matters the most: the money. How you're going to generate revenue is what drives any business…and it should drive your decision making process, too. (Not the other way around.)

I've seen a lot of well-meaning folks try to hodgepodge together a variety of different interests, passions and quirks together into one business – perhaps because it feels safer this way, in the event one side of the business flops—and then try to figure out how they're going to make money between the two. The old “little bit of this, little bit of that” approach.

This is backwards. Just as backwards as mixing together pepperoni pizza, pop tarts and mashed potatoes and then trying to figure out how to make something edible out of it—let alone remarkable.

Start with the money.

It might be an unpopular opinion among the feel-good multipotentialite crowd, but my job isn't to make you feel good; it's to make you money. So it only follows that the money is the first logical place you start.

Think about what the thing is that you are going to sell, and then work backwards to figure out what pieces of the puzzle will support those sales—which will help clear up a lot of the ambiguity around “but I'm not sure if I should say this on my website, or this?” or “do you think I should blog about this topic, or another one?” or “what about this name?” or “does it make more sense to write this book, or that one?” or “should I accept this invitation to come speak on this semi related but not entirely relevant topic…or not?”

If it doesn't support your ultimate end game, toss it out, make it a hobby, masturbate over it in the shower, or add it to a list of “future businesses I'd love to start.” But don't tack it onto your business. You are not a five and dime store.

Remember: If they can't figure out where your edge lies, you have none. And edges are what people pay for.

By its very nature, an edge is defined by one sharp thin line…not four blurry lines merging together into some kind of demented trapezoid.

First consider your edge, and how much money that edge is worth to customers. And then reverse engineer your business so every piece of it logically supports that edge…and nothing else. At least for now, anyway.

Because building a business isn't just a metaphor. Just like in real life, you build it piece by piece. But not before you know what you're building.

May 7

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It’s never just about the money coming in; you have to consider the money going out.  When you take on a job, sure, you might earn $5,000. But what’s the cost of earning it?  If you have to forfeit 3 other projects (and your favorite Wednesday night TV show) for a combined total revenue of […]

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Andddd (drum roll!) we continue our discussion about money with the biggest, hairiest, most existential question in all of entrepreneurship: “How much should I charge?” While other people are worried about how much they’re spending, YOU have the ass-clenching task of worrying about how much you’re earning. (Let’s be honest, your ass did clench up […]

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Ladies: DO NOT LET THEM MONEY-SHAME YOU

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You know what’s been blowing RIGHT up my skirt lately? That women are shamed for wanting money—as if this is a bad thing. We’re shamed for charging it, for thinking about it, and for daring to create something that we—brace yourselves, folks—want money for, in exchange. There’s this unspoken code of conduct that comes with […]

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I was recently told a story about a man named Uncle Bill who went to Colombia, stayed in a hostel, and climbed the ladder into his bunk—even after the four bottles of wine. Uncle Bill wasn’t your average uncle, though. Uncle Bill was eighty-nine years old. Which sounds like a lot, when you say it out loud, […]

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Sep 13

2017

If You’re Making Less Than $300,000, WE NEED TO TALK

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$300,000 sounds like a big fucking number, doesn’t it? But I have to tell you, that with the tools we have nowadays with the Internet, there’s almost no reason why you shouldn’t / can’t be making this in your business—WHICH SOUNDS LIKE A POMPOUS THING TO SAY, I REALIZE, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, #TOUGHLOVE […]

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Jan 6

2015

Business Lacking Direction? Start With the Money.

Jan 6, 2015

Imagine you’re seven years old, and you’ve never cooked anything before, so help your Fisher Price kitchenette. But suddenly you’re home alone, and you’re tasked with making yourself a meal. So naturally, you do what any seven year old would do: You get a big pot, and you start putting your favorite things into it. Pepperoni pizza—fucking […]

In: Money Talk

READ ME >>

Sep 26

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How to Save Money For People Who Are Notoriously Bad At Saving Money

Sep 26, 2013

You haven’t started saving for retirement yet. You don’t know how you’re going to pay your taxes (because you haven’t been keeping up with—what are those silly things called?—quarterly payments.) You certainly don’t have a rainy day fund. <—Said while laughing hysterically into your beer. And college? Well, the kids will just have to open […]

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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