Find An Idea

Everyone has an online business in them

Almost 12 years ago, I started IWT as a simple blog in my dorm room. It was called “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” and in the beginning, I wrote mostly about personal finance.

But beneath the nerdy posts about Roth IRAs and tax-loss harvesting, I was actually more interested in psychology and helping people live a Rich Life.

Notice the route we took:

Personal Finance

I started very intentionally with personal finance because it’s the foundation of everything: Get this right by automating your money, and you’ll be in an enviable position to make amazing decisions without worrying about money. Save it, spend it, use it to live whatever a Rich Life means to you.

Early Ramit in action. Gain some weight, bro

(Wait until your 50s and…well, just look around at the 50-year old people you know. Their #1 worry is money.)

Over the years, we branched out into other areas of living a Rich Life.


In 2010, at the request of tons of readers who wanted to know how to earn more money, we launched Earn1K, a course on freelancing. 5 years later, it continues to be one of our best-sellers and has helped launch thousands of mini-businesses.

Finding Your Dream Job

This is one of my favorite areas of a Rich Life. After learning the process of getting top-tier jobs while I was a student at Stanford, I landed job offers at Intuit, Google, a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund, and many more. I looked around and realized that (1) most of us will have a full-time job in our lives, and (2) nobody teaches us how to get a good one. In fact, most “career experts” have never even landed a top-tier job!

So we launched a course that helped thousands of people discover what their Dream Job was, land it, and negotiate a high salary.

Psychology & Social Skills

Part of the success behind our courses is the psychology we build into each one.

We knew that soft skills were just as important as hard skills when it comes to living a Rich Life, so we created courses on improving your confidence, your social skills and your ability to finish what you start. You can see some of this material in this YouTube video on social skills we created (over 600,000 views).

Building a Successful Online Business

After growing IWT to millions of dollars in revenue and launching over 15 successful products, we’d learned quite a bit about things like customer research, building products, marketing, and pricing. We spent years packaging up our knowledge, including the exact systems that took us to millions in revenue — down to the exact conversion rates to expect, the precise words people will use in customer research, and exactly how much to charge. Then we added software and coaching to make it bulletproof.

The result — our Zero to Launch course — has helped our students launch many successful online businesses.

All of this while continuing to give away 98% of our material free, prohibiting anyone with credit card debt from joining our flagship courses (which costs us millions of dollars but is the right thing to do), and, most recently, starting to give back to our community.

I’m very proud of our team. And I’m happy that the press has started to recognize the work we’re doing here.

IWT featured in Fortune and Forbes

Notice the progression of different parts of a Rich Life.

Some people want to work at a full-time job. Awesome, we can help. Others want to start their own business. We can help with that, too.

Psychology, productivity…even food and fitness. These are all parts of a Rich Life. It’s not just about money.

What does living a Rich Life mean to you?

What’s different about our philosophy

You’ll notice a few differences in what you read here on GrowthLab vs. on other sites:

  • A Rich Life is about saying YES instead of no. Too many others tell us all the things we can’t do — no lattes, no vacations, no jobs in this economy. Our readers know that top performers are always in demand. While others complain about politics and the economy, top performers create their own opportunities. We expect more from ourselves.
  • We don’t just need more information. You and I already know what we should do…so why don’t we do it? Instead of beating you over the head with another Top 10 list, GrowthLab digs into the psychology of top performers.
  • You define a Rich Life: If that means spending $50,000 on luxury services, I’ll show you how. If it means paying for your parents’ retirement, you can do it. If it means buying amazing shoes, or taking a trip to Vegas, or saving for your own retirement, GrowthLab has the tools to help you do it.

Along the way, I’ve tried to listen closely to what’s resonating.

I call this the Seagull Theory, a strategy for knowing if you’re on the right track in your business or personal life. When someone says something once, you might not notice it. When you hear it again, that’s interesting. When you hear it three times, you lean in and pay attention.

A few months ago, I took a look at the IWT business and noticed a very large seagull: Over the last 2 years, there’s been a big change in the IWT community.

The entire online business space is exploding, even more than other areas.

I’ve never heard as many friends talk about wanting to start a business as right now. People want the freedom of being able to take their unique gift, whatever it is — personal finance, dog walking, food coaching — and share it with the world.

Our team tracked the signs. Every week, new websites launched on pricing, A/B testing, design, finding an idea, and more.

We saw it internally, too: Within months, Zero to Launch, our flagship course on online business, instantly became our best-selling program of all time. (That is the fastest growth of any IWT or GrowthLab product in history.)

As we started talking to hundreds of thousands of our readers, we realized that the idea of starting a business is not just a temporary fad. Something deeper was going on.

What a Rich Life meant yesterday vs. today

In the past, our parents followed the traditional definition of an ordinary life: graduate from college, buy a house with a white-picket fence, and have 2.5 kids. Follow the path and live happily ever after.

If the rare person wanted to start a business, they would face incredible challenges: high startup costs, limited distribution, and almost zero guidance. In the past, if we wanted to launch something like IWT, we would have waited and prayed to be plucked from obscurity by some New York agent or a Today Show producer.

Think about how different life is today.

You can create a website, start writing, and share videos. With less than $100, you can start your business and have access to literally billions of people. (This is exactly how IWT started.)

IWT in 2004

Your options for what kind of business you want to start are almost endless. You can help people stop biting their nails, have a better vacation at Disneyland, wake up early, dress better, get press coverage for their business…or whatever you want to do, like these Zero to Launch students did.

And you can set up your business so that it’s completely automated. Your online business can keep working even when you’re not. You can earn money while you sleep — a game-changer.

These are actual sales from IWT that came in while I was sleeping. Note the times.

As I’ve always said, there’s a limit to how much you can save, but no limit to how much you can earn.

When we saw the signs — our #1-requested topic was online business, it was our best-seller, and we’re seeing more businesses launched now than ever — we listened.

Every one of us can have our own online business. I’m not talking about Google or Facebook. I’m talking about tiny, automated businesses that fly under the radar yet bring in substantial revenue.

Here are just a few people we’ve helped to automate their income:

  • Meet Bryce, the “frazzled entrepreneur” who went from $500 to $14,706 per month and build a business that runs by itself
  • Meet John, the performance coach who stopped “idea hopping” and built a sustainable business he loves
  • Meet Rachel, the mom who turned her parenting blog into a $3,000 per month business

Some online businesses are side projects that provide a steady drip of spending money. Others scale up to 7 or 8 figures.

A random day’s sales for IWT

One of the most powerful ways to live a Rich Life is creating an online business that lets you share your skills with the world — and generate revenue even while you sleep.

Btw, it’s interesting how controversial this is.

Notice how much skepticism there is around starting an online business. Try mentioning you want to start an online business to your parents. “WHAT? You should just be lucky you have a job in this economy!

Or go to any comment thread on the internet and you’ll see people complaining about the economy, world politics, even currency fluctuations. They worry about everything except the one thing they can control: their own situation.

If you trace the reason why (besides young people being disaffected whiners), there are some genuine reasons why people are skeptical about anything that sounds positive. As the economy crashed in 2008, young people stopped investing:

CNN Money, March 2015

They focused on cutting back on everything. They became more conservative, more risk averse. Sorry, but I don’t believe in that.

This is The Year of Growth. And I want to do more to help the millions of people around the world who want the freedom that comes with an online business. The people who want to be paid to share their passions with the world, but just need a little guidance.

I could have just written another blog post or posted another video.

But in true GrowthLab fashion, I want to go above and beyond the normal. I believe every one of us has an online business inside of us, which is why we’re launching a brand new site 100% dedicated to helping you start and build an online business.

On this site, we’re going to feature:

  • In-depth interviews, including successful online business owners in over 50 industries. Study their tactics, learn how they found a profitable idea, and see their actual revenues (which they’ll share publicly for the first time).
  • The latest A/B test results, from IWT and other businesses
  • Business teardowns: Watch as we improve businesses on the spot, then apply those lessons to your own business
  • Detailed case studies featuring business owners from around the world
  • Step-by-step instructions which’ll cover all phases of starting and running an online business — from having no idea, to hiring a team to grow your business for you
  • Specific lessons learned from IWT, including pricing, copywriting, product strategy, hiring and management, and even subtler material on business strategy.

All fresh, new material on everything to help you start an online business from scratch, then grow it into as large of a business as you want.

Some of the topics we’ll cover include:

  • Finding an idea: Building an online business from scratch
  • Copywriting: How to write compelling copy (even if you’re not a writer)
  • Automation: How to automate your business so you can spend less time working and more time with friends, family, traveling, etc.
  • Sales: Go from $1,000 a month to $10,000, to $100,000, and beyond.
  • Traffic: You’ll see how IWT gets over 1,000,000 blog readers/month
  • Conversions: Turn your skeptical prospects into paying customers
  • Creating a product: Go behind-the-scenes and see how we create everything from a $4.95 ebook to a $25,000 program
  • Customer service: See how IWT and other businesses turn angry readers into happy customers
  • Hiring: Discover how to get a team to build your business for you
  • Psychology: Overcome your own internal barriers (self-doubt, imposter syndrome) and develop a deep connection with your audience

I believe we have to earn our way into your inbox every single day. So when I think about you learning how to create an online business from somebody, I want it to be someone who knows the ins and outs of business.

Not just somebody who’s created a $50 ebook on creating $50 ebooks, but someone who’s sold multiple formats, different topics, made mistakes and learned from them, and has a deep playbook of business knowledge to help you.

We’ve been here for 12 years, we’ve launched over 18 successful products, and we’ve built a business with over 30,000 paying customers in over 50 industries.

If you want help, we want to be there for you.

If you poke around and don’t find anything interesting, that’s OK. We’re constantly looking for new ways to help you lead a Rich Life.

But if you’ve ever been interested…if you’ve ever wondered if this online business thing might be right for you…if you’ve ever subscribed to a blog to learn about how you can build something some day…

We’re here for you.

Introducing the all-new GrowthLab website.

Poke around and stay tuned. There’s a lot more to come.