Episode #58

With Alan Donegan

Teacher, Husband, Pizza Addict, but most of all, Business Builder.

Alan has helped over 1000 students build and their business.

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Alan Donegan is the founder of Pop Up Business School! Alan set out to build Pop Up Business School after a painful experience that he had himself. Alan helps people build businesses and take control of their finances to create the life of your dreams.

In this episode, we give a glimpse of a business idea that anyone can tackle! It was something that I first thought of and then Alan improved on it and made it grand! Listen around 14 minutes in to hear the idea!

Are your students going full-time right off the bat?

Not at all! In fact, one of the fundamental key principles in PopUp Business School is starting as an experiment.

The traditional way to start a business is: write a long business plan, work out how much money you need to borrow, figure out where you can get it (friends, family, loan, etc.), go into debt, start up, create the product/services and then EVENTUALLY sell.

If it goes wrong at the “sell” point, that is extremely painful. You’ve invested tons of time and money already!

Alan’s method teaches people is the opposite, and his saying “if you’re going to fail, fail fast and fail cheap”.

Start with sales rather than end with sales!

Should you start with a lifestyle design or a business idea first?

It definitely is a bit of both, but most people are looking for a starting point.

There are three buckets:

  • The things you love to do
  • What the world needs
  • Can you make from it / Will it provide the lifestyle you want

In a perfect business, you are looking for the intersection of all of these factors.

Alan gives an example of a lady who loved knitting, but found it was very difficult to make money knitting. It took tons of time and she felt the world did not need another blanket that was knitted. Instead, she tied it in with another product (but you’ll have to listen to find out)!

How do you come up with an idea?

If you are at the very start, you know you want to change your lifestyle and make a change, but you don’t know the business idea or what to do. Here are a few suggestions from Alan:

Ask yourself:

  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • If you had a free day, how would you spend your time?
  • What did you do when you were a kid?
  • What gets you excited?

Step 2)

As you go through life the next few weeks, jot down the different things that annoy you or things that you don’t necessarily enjoy. Maybe there is a problem that you encounter, jot that down.

Start noticing what frustrates you, and what aggravates you.

What is the next step after the idea?

See if there is anything like it out there in the market! This does not necessarily mean you cannot go after whatever it is you want, but you should know your unique advantage. That brings you to the next step…


In the research phase, you answer:

  1. What is the price?
  2. Is it available everyone?
  3. Can I compete with it?
  4. Does my idea do it better?

Your business idea does not have to be game changing and unique.

What are your beliefs on competition?

It is highly unlikely you come up with a business where there are no competition. You’ve either:

  1. Come up with a truly unique idea that no one has come up with (highly unlikely)
  2. Lots of people have tried it and didn’t work, so they shut down (more likely)

Therefore, if there is competition, it is healthy! That means that there is a market that is healthy with people ready to pay.

Competition is what breeds innovation!

Should I tell people my idea?

Alan does not like NDAs, and believes that it is not necessary.

How do we put our business in front of our target market?

There are 2 types of marketing:

  • Passive: You put general posts and messages in the audience and you wait for people to respond and ask you questions
  • Active: You are direct messaging people, talking to them, and asking if they or if they know anyone who may need the service.

When people start a business, they usually start with a passive strategy. If you are playing the waiting game and taking on a passive approach, you will be waiting a long time! Be sure to adopt the active marketing approach.

Google My Business

One of the most underrated ways to get businesses as a local service based business is to utilize the Google My Business page.

If you search “Cleaning + Your city”, you will be listed on the map! The map is unbelievably effective for getting local business leads.

Alan gives us an example of an accountant that has done a great job with this.

The same lady who runs the accounting practice said that getting to the top of maps is worth 1-2 clients per week asking her to work with new clients.

How do you presell your products and services?

A lot of side hustlers put tons of time and money into their side hustle only to realize that no one wants it or that it is not worth it.

Validation is key!

The only way to validate your idea is to ACTUALLY GET MONEY! If someone says they like your idea, ask them for the money. If you ask your friends and family about your idea and they say they like it, that is NOT validation!

Why don’t people pre-sell?

Some people do not pre-sell because they just don’t know about it. But the real reason is the word associated with SALES!

When I say sales, what is the first word that comes to your mind?

We actually did this exercise, see dialogue below:

Alan: “What comes to mind when I say the word “sales”?

Matthew: “Sleezy”

This is the exact problem people do not sell! If you have a bad image of what “sales” is, then how are you going to go out and sell?

If you don’t think sales is a good thing, you won’t go out and do it.

The first step is to redefine your definition of sales!

My definition of sales: Providing value to someone who can give you money in exchange for the value.

Alan’s definition: Sales is about finding someone with a problem, offering to fix it, and charging them for it. When you look at sales from that perspective, it makes the world and sales a better place! If you look at it like that, it is a win-win-win.

What are some of the other key points you stress in the process of building a business?

The basic process is:

  1. Identify the problem you want to fix
  2. Work out what the solution is
  3. Create enough marketing material to sell it

Most people think entrepreneurship is extremely risky, but the reality is, it can be a calculated risk.

A lot of side hustlers believe that you need to risk money, but that is simply not true. If you don’t risk money, you may have to risk time, rejection, energy, fear of failure/success.

You get to choose which risks you want to go for.

How do you coach people to get over the fear of rejection?

Ask yourself, “what are you most afraid of?”. You need to identify what you are most afraid of.

A generalized fear is very difficult to deal with, you need to make it specific in order to deal with it.

What is REBEL Entrepreneur?

The general idea behind REBEL Entrepreneur is Alan wants to break the societal rules of business building.

Things like:

If you are starting a business, you must write a business plan.

If you are starting a business, it takes money to make money.

If you are starting a business, you must start by getting a loan.

You only make money in year 2.

You don’t have to follow those! You can design and build any life that you want to.

Where does passion and purpose come into business for you?

Purpose is actually important in life in general, not just business. It is what gives your life meaning and energy. If you can find that purpose, you will be happier and feel more energy than you ever have.

What is your purpose?

Alan’s mission is to change how entrepreneurship is taught because he believes it is taught backwards. Alan wants to empower people to build businesses and make money doing something they love.

The secondary mission is already achieved, which was to achieve financial independence. Now, Alan is inspired to help other people get out of debt and become financially free.

What is financial independence?

The concept behind is that, if you save and invest, and you put enough money into investments, eventually, the returns you get are larger than the money you need to live, and therefore, you don’t need to work every again.

What is your #1 tip for someone starting a side hustle?

Sell your value before you create it.

What Alan means by that is before you create the product/course or whatever it is you’re creating, SELL IT!

If you could sell it first, you have money in your hands and a customer, and that is a real business.

Stop doing it backwards and reverse the simple system.

Connect with Alan:


Podcast: Rebel Entrepreneur

Hosts & Guest

Matthew Alexander

Alan Donegan

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