By Marisa Murgatroyd

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Business You'll Love

7 Must-Have Criteria That Will Totally Take the Guesswork Out of Building a Lucrative, Fulfilling Business from the Get Go

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Hi, I’m Marisa Murgatroyd. Founder of Live Your Message.

I quit my 9 to 5 job to to start my own business with hardly any savings and no idea how to build a business. I eventually found my way to success but it was a LONG hard road full of time-wasting and SUPER expensive mistakes. I don’t want that for you and that’s why I wrote this monster post.

My Story

You’re meant for something different, you’re meant for something more, this is not your life, this is not what you want…”

It was like a voice calling out to me from the wilderness except it was actually coming from inside my head…

And it kept getting louder and louder.

I tried to ignore it but it got to the point where it started to feel like the incessant beat of a drum and it was pushing me to take action.

This was about 10 years ago -- back when I was a documentary filmmaker working for a production company. It was a 9 to 6 gig and when I first started, I couldn’t have been more excited...

But things don’t always go the way we plan and after a while I knew...

I had to leave.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the work. I just couldn’t stand the job.

I was deeply committed to what I was doing and it felt like I was making a real difference in the world but I worked nonstop and every second of my creativity and effort was going into building someone else’s company and vision…

Someone who was not the kind of person I wanted to work for.

And to make things worse, the pay was a joke.

I worried about making rent. I worried about paying the bills. I even worried about taking time off because I didn’t get paid when I did.

So, I did what most people in my shoes would choose to do…

I walked away to start my own business and I did it with hardly any savings and zero ideas.

I told myself I’d figure out how to make a great living. How hard could it be?

I looked around for guidance and kept coming across the same advice in books and magazines, on talk shows and even on billboards…

Live your passion

Find your truth

Follow your bliss

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t quite sure exactly what any of it meant but I decided to find out...

I dipped into my limited savings and took off on a road trip from LA to Vancouver.

Night after night, I stared up at the stars and tried to “find my truth.” I asked the big questions: What am I meant to do with my life? How can I be of service?

I waited for the answers to come…

All I got was total silence.

I returned home after a couple of weeks, more confused and with even less money in the bank and I started to spiral into complete panic.

I’d realized a little too late that I’d done the worst possible thing…

Quit my job without a plan and almost no money.

It took a lot of time, energy (and tears) before I finally found the sweet spot -- that magical space where your talents, gifts and skills intersect with what people want and need and are happy to pay for.

I know I’m not the only one who’s struggled with this particular challenge…

Finding that sweet spot is an agonizing process for so many entrepreneurs and you don’t get to cross “go” and start a successful business until you hit it. The problem is some people take months, or years -- even decades -- to get there.

Having the right business idea is the difference between struggling -- perhaps even giving up -- and succeeding beyond your wildest dreams. Having the right business idea is non-negotiable. If you want to build a profitable and fulfilling business, then you need an idea that you know is going to work.

My business training company, Live Your Message, is now a mid 7-figure business but it was a long, hard road to the top...

A road that made me want to give up more than once.

It’s a road I don’t want you to take and that’s why I wrote this guide.

I’m going to share an easier way, a smarter way and a much faster way to create a profitable and fulfilling business from scratch.

The best part?

It has nothing to do with the stars, the moon, finding your truth or following your bliss and everything to do with clear actionable strategies you can immediately put into place to start building a lucrative business you love.

How to Build a Powerful Personal Brand

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When it comes to starting a business, most people have lots of talent and more ideas than they know what to do with.

They tell themselves they’re ready to make it work and they share their grand plans with friends, family and anyone who’s willing to listen. They’re totally fired up. They’re excited and enthusiastic.

But then nothing happens.

Months go by -- sometimes years -- and their lives remain the same.

No dream business in sight.

If you ask them why, you’ll hear a whole bunch of excuses:

I don’t have time to start a business.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do… I’m overwhelmed.

I’m not sure if my idea is good enough.

I’m not really cut out to be an entrepreneur.

I could go on listing these out but I’ll cut to the chase because there’s only one REAL reason holding people back from building their dream business…


Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of the unknown and most of all…

Fear of taking action.

I’ve designed this guide to help you get over every one of those fears… especially that last one.

Here’s the thing…

So many talented entrepreneurs feel stuck. They stay frozen in place because they don’t know whether or not their business idea will work and they’re clueless when it comes to choosing a profitable idea or niche.

But that’s NOT going to be you :)

By the end of this guide, you’ll learn the only 7 criteria you need to start building a lucrative business right now.

You’ll be inspired and excited about taking action because you’ll finally get to let go of the overwhelm and confusion and start feeling 100% confident that you’re on the right path to creating a successful, business around your unique personality, talents and skills.

If you choose to start a business with only 6 of these criteria -- you’ll fail. This is basically an all or nothing situation but don’t worry, you can hit all 7…

I know because I’ve done it myself and I’ve helped countless entrepreneurs do it too!

In some circles I’m known as the “go to” brand builder for superstar entrepreneurs you might have heard of like Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely, Josh Turner and Susan Peirce Thompson.

And as a coach plus marketing and branding expert I’ve trained thousands of entrepreneurs on how to start a profitable business with clear action steps and strategies -- these are proven needle movers that get these entrepreneurs surging toward a successful business even if they’re brand new.

Right now, I’m here to help you identify if your business idea (or ideas) will create the impact and income you’re looking for. I’ll get into each of the 7 must-have criteria in this guide, so you’ll have a clear picture of every one of them.

You’ll also get to know 2 amazing clients of mine -- Uwe and Virginia. They started out confused and unsure of whether they had what it took to start a profitable business.

They both had business ideas they liked but they weren’t sure if those ideas could be transformed into something their clients would be happy to pay for.

After working through everything I’m about to share in this guide and with my support, both Uwe and Virginia got the clarity they needed to hit ALL 7 criteria and started seeing incredible results :)

I’m including their stories here because that’s the fastest and most effective way to understand how each of the 7 criteria work in a real world business so you can start to maximize all 7 to skyrocket profits in your business.

Sound good? Let’s dive in :).

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Design Your Business as a Solution

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This first criterion has to do with something called awareness marketing. This is about getting into your customers’ minds so they can see your business -- your product or service -- as a clear solution to their problem.

Think of it this way…

No matter what business you’re in, you’re actually in the business of problem solving.

So the question you need to ask yourself to know whether or not you have a profitable business on your hands is this: Does your business idea solve a very specific and acknowledged market need -- preferably an urgent need?

The key is to choose a need, problem or outcome that people are aware of and preferably one they urgently want to solve.

If your business solves a “hidden” need, problem or outcome, it’s over before you begin. Why? Because you can’t find a solution for a problem you don’t even know you have!

Right now, you may be thinking, “That’s so obvious, Marisa!” but don’t be fooled… this is a tricky one to navigate!

Lots of entrepreneurs get caught up offering outcomes and solutions for problems they think are important but not a lot of people care about or even know about.

Take Uwe, my client from Germany. He started out with a very vague business idea -- he was offering a 6-month coaching program on “Living Your True Purpose” to professionals and entrepreneurs.

Let me ask you this…

If you hear, “I help professionals and entrepreneurs live their true purpose,” do you instantly understand what Uwe can help you with? “Living Your True Purpose” is not a specific and acknowledged market need so it fails to hit Criterion #1 (or any of the others but we’ll get into that later).

After he thought about his business idea through the lens of Criterion #1, Uwe realized something important: many of the entrepreneurs and professionals he talked to were struggling with burnout and he knew he could help them overcome that.

Is burnout a problem people know they have? Absolutely! This instantly brought a whole world of clarity to Uwe’s message -- now he’s acknowledging a specific and urgent market need.

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Target Your Business At Your Ideal Client

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Is your business idea targeted at a specific kind of person -- let’s call this person your ideal client -- and have you described them in detail?

Here’s the thing...

You need to get super specific and clear with this so your ideal clients can instantly self-identify with the way that you describe them.

Let me explain with a story about my client Virginia who is an incredibly gifted medical intuitive.

She helps all kinds of people experience miraculous healings but her original strategy to get clients to sign up with her was a bit of a disaster.

Virginia would basically hang out at the airport and get into conversation with anyone and everyone about their health challenges!

But after she reflected on her gifts and applied Criterion #2 to her overall strategy, Virginia realized she was really great at helping a very specific kind of person.

Virginia’s ideal client is someone suffering from a chronic or severe illness who has tried just about every medical solution with little or nothing to show for it. Virginia knew she could help these people experience what some may call a medical miracle.

While not everyone who is suffering from a serious illness would want to try an alternative path, some definitely would.

By looking at her business through the lens of Criterion #2, Virginia targeted her messaging at her ideal clients and they started seeing themselves in her descriptions -- they could self-identify as “someone suffering from a chronic or severe illness who has tried just about every medical solution with little or nothing to show for it”.

What happened next was magical… Virginia started attracting a ton of ideal clients with very little effort.

Her messaging did all the work for her -- no more “hanging out at airports” talking to anyone and everyone... :)

*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

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Create a Clear Mental Picture of Your Ideal Client

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A great way to get started on Criterion #3 is to ask yourself…

“When I talk about what I do, will people get a clear mental picture of someone specific who needs the solution I want to provide?”

In other words…

When you describe what you do, can others instantly think of someone they know -- an aunt, partner, brother, friend -- who would love to work with you or experience your programs, products and services?

One of the best ways to find out if you got this right, is to talk to others about the problem you solve. If they start saying things like…

“That’s my coworker Susan! You need to get in touch with her. She really needs what you’re talking about”…

You know for sure, you nailed it!

Virginia, the gifted medical intuitive I talked about earlier, identified her ideal clients as people suffering from a chronic or severe illness who’ve tried just about every medical solution and are now looking for a medical miracle.

Can you picture someone who wants this? I know I can picture at least one person I know who was diagnosed with cancer but doesn’t want to go through chemo and I know they would be open to working with Virginia.

This level of clarity opened up a whole world of opportunities for Virginia. It helped her hone in on clients who are happy to work with her. Plus, friends, and family became clear on Virginia’s services and helped refer her to more clients.

The result? Virginia’s business jumped on an exponential growth trajectory with very little effort. Sweet!

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Find Ideal Clients Who Are Active Seekers

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You’ve identified the outcome and solution you want to provide with your business, you’ve targeted your business at your ideal clients and you’ve described what you do and who you serve in a way where others can get a clear mental picture of a specific person who needs the solutions you provide.

Now you’re ready to get to the heart of our journey together :)

It’s time to ask the ONE question hardly any new (or even experienced!) entrepreneur asks herself and it’s the reason why so many people struggle so hard with creating a profitable business that provides a steady, growing income.

Here’s the million-dollar question: Is your ideal client or customer actively seeking a solution to their problem and are they willing and able to pay to have that problem solved?

In other words, your client needs to be open to getting help with her problem, need or desire, and be actually willing and able to invest in what you have to offer. Your ideal client should be actively seeking a solution.

If you’ve been running your business for a while, I know you’ve crossed paths with clients who seem like the perfect fit at the start but when it’s time to talk about payment, things quickly go downhill -- you have to work very hard to persuade them to hire you or work with you.

You might find yourself lowering your rates or talking about deep discounts you didn’t plan on offering (I don’t recommend any of this, by the way) and despite your best efforts, you might end up losing the client.

Criterion #4 removes ALL these issues and challenges. When you talk to potential clients who are not just actively seeking the solution or outcome you offer but are also ready and willing to pay for it…

You’ve hit the motherload!

Remember Uwe who was offering a 6-month coaching program on “Living Your True Purpose” to professionals and entrepreneurs? He worked through the first 3 criteria and decided he wanted to offer solutions specifically for dentists and physicians experiencing burnout.

He realized he could help them create an “anti-burnout” system to protect their energy, their business and their family and when he asked the question, “Is my ideal client actively seeking a solution to their problem and are they willing and able to pay to have that problem solved? “ the answer was a clear, “heck, yeah!”

Dentists and physicians know there’s a lot on the line with their careers, so they’re definitely open, willing and able to invest in a solution for burnout -- especially since standard medical practices alone can’t prevent the problem.

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Make Sure You Can Easily Connect with Your Ideal Clients

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Now that you know the solution you want to offer and the ideal clients who are actively looking for that solution and happy to pay you for it, it’s time to find out where these clients hang out.

At this stage, your job is to figure out where you can easily connect with your ideal clients through your value network either online or out in the real world.

Can you find them at live business and networking events? Would it be easy to reach them through Facebook advertising, joint venture partnerships, or some other form of marketing or networking channel within your reach?

Listing out the answers to these questions now is absolutely critical because if you can’t reach your ideal clients or you don’t know where they are, you don’t have a business!

Both Uwe and Virginia experienced so much more ease (and a huge surge in profits) when they got clear on Criterion #5.

Uwe’s ideal clients are dentists and physicians close to burnout or those who are already struggling with burnout. Can you easily find and connect with people like that? Absolutely! It’s not unusual or difficult to find overworked medical professionals at hospitals, in doctor’s offices and listed in online medical directories.

Virginia also found that her target audience is easy to reach online and out in the real world. Everyone knows someone with a chronic or serious health issue who’s tried everything… someone who’s ready for an alternative path and a medical miracle. So Virginia gets top marks for this one too.

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Implement the 10,000 Person Rule

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Okay, we’re rounding the final corner and the finish line is in sight! This is the second to last must-have criterion you need to build a highly profitable business you love.

This criterion is about consistently attracting clients and experiencing comfortable growth.

This means you need to build a business with a healthy and if possible -- growing -- target audience or ideal client market.

When you do this, you get to effectively scale your business and avoid hitting a “ceiling” in terms of the number of customers and clients who want what you have to offer.

Here’s the thing...

Your business must continuously expand and grow so you can consistently provide more impact and create more income. What you don’t want is a business that attracts a spike in demand at the start but then decreases -- and eventually dies out -- over time.

With Criterion #6, you’re addressing this make or break problem ahead of time. I want you to think about it like this…

Do you have enough members in your current target audience to justify building a business?

A good rule of thumb is that there must be more than 10,000 people on the planet who can easily be reached -- through your marketing -- and who actually want what you offer. If this isn’t true for you, I’ll be straight with you…

You can make money, but it’s going to be almost impossible to scale your business and sooner or later, you’ll hit a ceiling you just can’t get past.

During his early research, Uwe discovered that about 51% of all doctors and physicians experience burnout. This means there are definitely more than 10,000 people in Uwe’s target market. He gets 2 thumbs up for this criterion :)

Virginia is also looking good here. Do you think there’s less than 10,000 people on the planet suffering from a chronic condition or serious illness who are looking for alternative paths to solving it? Of course not! So, Virginia’s business is in the clear.

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Build a Business You Truly Love

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This is it… the final criterion you need to build a profitable, fulfilling business you love.

Criterion #7 is all about drilling down and uncovering the things you’re good at and enjoy doing. This is more than just using your gifts and talents to design offers and solutions that help your ideal clients or target audience…

It’s also about experiencing pleasure in the process of working with those clients and customers.

Word of warning: being good at something is not the same as finding pleasure in doing it.

Just because you’re good at it doesn’t mean you love it… so, pass all your business ideas through this filter and toss the ones that don’t make the cut.

Why? Because running a business -- even one that you love -- while wildly fulfilling will also be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life.

There are lots of obstacles and challenges to get through. These will feel like an exciting adventure when you love what you do but will quickly turn into a death trap or a prison when you don’t.

Uwe has no doubt that he can help dentists and physicians prevent burnout. In fact he loves doing it.

And as for Virginia -- Criterion #7 is a total no brainer. She told me that helping people experience medical miracles is her soul calling and her life’s mission… and she’d probably do it even if she didn’t get paid!

Both Uwe and Virginia got through Criterion #7 with flying colors... :)

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Your Next Step

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Uwe was earning a maximum of €2000 per month when we first met but after he worked with us to apply all 7 criteria to his business, he started selling service packages priced between €5000 to €15000. :)

Virginia also worked with us to implement all 7 criteria in her business. In a very short time, she effortlessly 5x-ed her results and went from $40,000 a year to her first $20,000 month.

And these are just 2 stories among countless others that my clients experience.

Here’s the thing…

No matter who you are, no matter which industry you’re in and no matter how much or how little you think you know about starting and running a business, you need these 7 must-have criteria to create ongoing business profitability and success.

Unfortunately, most people invest a TON of time, effort, energy and money into their business without ever thinking about them.

And sooner or later, they end up with a business that feels like a struggle and doesn’t generate the kind of impact or income they want…

Or they inadvertently build a money pit that drains them emotionally and financially, leaving them no choice but to shut down the whole operation and swear off entrepreneurship altogether!

I don’t want any of that to happen to YOU.

So, here’s your next step…

Think about the business idea or business ideas you’ve been playing with and then get honest -- brutally honest -- with yourself.

Does your idea meet ALL 7 criteria you just learned in this Ultimate Guide?

If your answer is yes, then congratulations! You get the green light to go full steam ahead and start building that dream business you know you were meant to build.

But what if your none of your ideas match up? What if you have ideas that meet one, two or even six criteria but not the rest?

If this is you, don’t worry!

The truth is that great ideas typically don’t begin that way. They start as so-so ideas that need to be refined and improved. And most people find they need support to develop their raw ideas into a form that they can feel 100% confident in moving forward with…

And this brings me to an exciting invitation... :)

If you’d love our expert support implementing all 7 criteria to build a high income, high impact business that feels good to you and resonates with who you are and how you want to serve the world…

If you’re ready to breeze past every single expensive, time-consuming mistake new entrepreneurs make...

If you want to identify the exact steps that will rapidly have you building an aligned, successful business in a way that feels easy, effective and fun…

You’ll love Start With You. :)

This is an easy-to-follow, in depth program that includes weekly, live group coaching sessions where you can get your specific questions answered and receive the support you need to build the business you were meant to build.

Start With You is based on thousands and thousands of hours of my personal experience on starting a business and taking it all the way up to mid-7-figures (it took years to learn this!). You’ll also discover insider secrets and strategies I usually share with private clients and in my live group coaching programs and workshops.

I’ve designed Start With You so it’s a no fuss, no fluff program where you’ll:

  • Learn what you're really meant to do in the world and who specifically you're meant to serve
  • Identify your True North Business: one that is profitable and personally fulfilling
  • Find out how to expertly implement all 7 criteria in this guide to maximize success
  • Have 3 compelling ways to express exactly what you do with clarity and confidence.
  • Know the exact next steps to move the needle in your business every day, week, and month moving forward -- while feeling truly fulfilled
  • Get the support you need to follow through (even when the going gets tough) with weekly group coaching sessions… and SO much more

Start With You is the program I wish I had when I quit my job to become an entrepreneur and there’s nothing quite like it out there.

This is 6 life-changing weeks of high value, highly actionable strategies and steps you can immediately start to implement to build a dream business that’s both profitable and deeply fulfilling.

You should know that everything in Start With You has been proven to work again and again. I’ve shared these methods with entrepreneurs around the world and they’ve gone on to transform raw ideas into lucrative businesses they love.

And don’t worry if you’re brand new at all of this...

Start With You will work for you even if you don’t know anything about running a business -- it will work for you even if you just decided to become an entrepreneur today. :)

I hope you enjoyed reading this Ultimate Guide as much as I enjoyed writing it and I hope you take action on everything you learned so you can start to build your dream business now.

One final thing before you go…

Does your business idea or current business meet all 7 must-have criteria in this Ultimate Guide? If not, which ones do you need to work on? Share in the comments, I’d love to know!

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you’ll consider joining us in Start With You.

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