$3,000 to $1,000,000 in 15 months: HOW TO DO IT
How I'd do it...
1. Tape success principles to my wall and never deviate when the times get rough.
2. Research. I would look at businesses for sale on bizquest.com, bizbuysell.com, sites for sale on sitepoint.com etc. for the sole purpose of sparking ideas and seeing actual revenue. Most websites don't make money. Don't buy into the garbage for sale.
I would also look at the entrepreneur top 500 co's, Inc. most growth co's to spark ideas and see what co's and trends are making money. All the while I'd open up my antenna's for opp's and problems people would pay to have solved.
3. I would compare all these ideas to my strength's and see what's out of my reach - i.e. too much tech, to hone in on a few serious opps.
4. More research into the market. After finding a good idea that fits my mold as best possible I'd go to the library and research the market for this business idea. Study the problems, what they complain about, trade journals, etc.
(I'm fortunate to live in a big Metro and our county library was ranked #1 in the country and linked up to all colleges in the state. Their research databases are top-notch.)
5. After finding that there is a market who is reachable, willing to pay for this service, and having an angle that will give you leverage (niche, better service, faster delivery, etc.) then give it a go.
6. Product or service? I'd do service. Products can take too long to develop and cannot be adjusted as easily or at all as you go. Forget creativity in the product or service sense. Be creative with the delivery. I would be willing to license product rights but that might cost $$ and all the money should be funneled into marketing.
Also, be sure you can get repeat customers. Unless very high ticket, it's easier to get to the $1 mil mark when people are consuming every month. Creating new customers can cost alot ot time and money - better to resell current clients.
7. Study your competitors marketing methods. Use google adwords and design a website but don't spend months or thousands of dollars in this design. Hire a friend who can do this. Don't do this yourself unless you can complete FAST and cheap! Most websites are not the business themselves, but a marketing arm of the biz. Adwords and PPC speeds up the process of startup incredibly - that's why I'd do this first.
Keep your testing small and build on that. Could you run an ad in WSJ? Yes, but that costs serious money and may not be targeted. Forget mass marketing - that's for those with deeper pockets. Stick with small targetable, mediums and create calls for action via direct response. Use your profits to reinvest in more marketing.
8. After getting starting via small potato ad's on the web I'd start calling potential customers from a highly pre-qualified list, and to setup JV's. What I mean by JV's is setting up offers other businesses will send to their customers with their endorsement. Getting this may be tough but is much faster and profitable than any ad. Give the businesses a reason to do it like money in the form of % of sales revenue . Remember you only have 1 year and you must leverage the relationships of others.
Use press releases for PR and offer something of value to listeners - like a free trial for a week / one time use, etc.
I don't expect a newbie in marketing to jump in and tear it up unless they, at a minimum, learn a little bit. I'd be studying marketing, sales, and PR from a few very specific sources while in the research phase assuming I have no experience. I'd ask pros what they read. Most is just rehashed so go right to the top producers.
-Don't be a pioneer trying to create a market. Create a better system of delivery or find an overlooked area to serve. Creating market's is possible but can be time consuming and expensive - we don't have this in 15 months.
-Don't be creative with the product or service but the delivery. Again too much time and untested.
-Direct response ad's on a very small basis. No branding.
-Leverage is key. You need to leverage your experience with the resources of others. -Much faster and more potential for than doing it alone.
-Focus on marketing and promotion and have other people or systems do the work for you.
-Research shouldn't take more than 1 month.
I think I just created my how-to for the next 15 months