SFR 298: My FIRST 17 Product Failures… – Stephen Larsen

SFR 298: My FIRST 17 Product Failures…

Jan 28th, 2020 anchorwave

I thought I’d do something a little bit different and share all of my failures.

It took me 17 tries to make this game work…And after going back and recounting, it’s actually 33.

how to get started as an entrepreneur


I recently recounted through the timeline of all of the business and product attempts I’ve made…

Here’s a recap of my first 17 tries

I’ve always been interested in business. I don’t know why, but it’s just something that I’ve loved – it’s kind of a passion of mine.

There’s a lot of things I could dive deeply into and get passionate about. But for some reason, sales, selling and working with my hands, I’ve just always loved that.

When I was growing up, my dad had me be the yard manager.

I was… (I always say, “I was the oldest of six…” 😂) I am the oldest of six kids and so, I was bestowed the role of yard manager.

I was in charge of all of the hiring and firing of my siblings.

I had to go and create contracts; I didn’t know how to do that. So I went and I wrote a contract.

My dad was guiding, but not doing…

He was like, “Go look it up ‘What’s a contract?’ on Google.”

So, I wrote the contract: “You will agree to weed… “

I had to go hire my siblings and make a proposal to my dad of how much money I thought it would cost for us, his children, to run the business, which I thought was very clever.

I had to write a proposal, “Dad, I think we can do it for $30 a week,” or something like that.

Then he had me go interview my siblings, as cheesy as that might sound, it was one of the greatest gifts ever.

I think I was like 14, 15, 16, 17; like right in that range…

And I had to go interview my siblings and actually have them sign contracts to…

  • “Weed this part of the yard.”
  • “Trim and weed whack the backyard during these times.”
  • “Be the one that mows these areas.”

Does that make sense?

Starting your own business

It was really, really cool because it taught me a lot about just the way business flows, and how to run it.

What’s cool is that after I interviewed them and they signed their contract, my siblings would go do their thing and then my dad wouldn’t pay me until I invoiced him.

I didn’t know what an invoice was.

I thought that was the weirdest, dumbest word on the planet.

I was like, “What is an invoice? That’s stupid.”

And so, I had to learn what an invoice was, go write one and hand it to my Dad.

… it was like, net 30 terms, like a normal business.

My Dad would pay me and then I’d turn around and payout to my siblings.

I’d keep 10 bucks for myself, just for setting up the structure.

A lot of my siblings were younger than me; there’s a 17-year difference between me and the youngest, so the youngest wasn’t even around when this happened…

It was a really, really powerful because if they didn’t do their part, I had to go in and fix that stuff.

… it was really cool.

I took the same principles and my brother and I, would go to Walgreens and buy these $2.50 laser pointer pens, and then we’d take my mom’s labeler and label it for 18 bucks and go sell these laser pointer pens.

We’re making hundreds of dollars a day as high school students until we got in trouble and the administration almost expelled us.

Entrepreneur motivation

We had to do a bunch of community service for being entrepreneurial. Anyway, another topic 😂… it was fascinating!

We grew up on the back nine of a public golf course. It wasn’t a super nice golf course, but there was still a golf course.

So being kids, we’d hop the fence, dive into the ponds, grab all the golf balls, clean ’em up and sell ’em back to the golfers.

We did a lot of stuff like that.

I’ve never actually shared with you how it all happened and I thought it’d be kinda cool to just, “Hey, storytime,” share with you ALL the failures.

I thought it was 17 failures, but it’s actually 33.

It was like 17 until I found the internet, and then when I found the internet, then it was like another 16,17 tries…

Learn how to get started as an entrepreneur

So, I thought it’d be kinda cool to share with you.

I was on an interview recently and someone was like, “A few people have asked, Steven, if some of your stories are true?”

Yeah, they’re true.

And that’s why I’m so passionate about what I do.

(I gotta be careful with the language I use here)

I’m not pansy-ing around; this has been an active pursuit of mine for the majority of my life now, and that’s one of the reasons it’s done well.

I always laugh when someone’s like, “I tried it once, it didn’t work.”

“Oh, you tried it once? Did you try it 33 times?”

Starting your own business is awesome

And just so you know, when I say, “I tried that,” I’m not saying, “I read a book and dabbled.”

I walked down Main Street trying to sell people, okay?

I didn’t count something as a try until I actually was actually trying it.

I mean I was actually trying to…

  • Sell
  • Make the transactions

Reading a book and dabbling, hat’s not trying. You gotta pony up a little bit and actually do the thing.

So anyway, that was in my teenage years…


How to find entrepreneur motivation

What was cool about that though is I started learning about marketing at that age, because I learned how to write flyers.

I would look at flyers, we’d print ’em out, chop ’em up and then my brother and I would just go run down our streets peppering all the doors.

We drummed a lot of yard business that way when we did our a yard business thing.

So anyway, I love working with my hands.

Crap, I forgot about others…

So, first one’s on there, I’ll say yard biz/pens ’cause I almost got kicked out for that but there were a bunch more – there were soooo many.

I was ALWAYS selling something as a teenager.

Anyway, that was like up until 2007 – I thought it’d be cool to actually give some of the timelines behind this too, so you guys know I’m telling the truth when I say…

“This is how much stuff I’ve tried with this and it’s the reason so much experience has happened.”

I’m NOT just drawing on things I learned from ClickFunnels.

I’m drawing from a HUGE background before I even heard of ClickFunnels, Russell or anything like that.

I’ll pick this up at 2010…


Steve Larsen how to get started as an entrepreneur

2010, I came back from a mission from a church and I got into a lot of stocks and options.

My dad and I went and paid a good chunk of change to learn from the Rich Dad Company only to find out that a lot of the things were old.

(You see I’m writing small here for a reason 😂)

With the stocks and options thing, the reason why I stopped is I got married, I got distracted, alright!

2011, I got married.

You’ll see my relationship with money starting to change as I go through this list.

So the lie that I was believing in the stocks and options thing and why I left was that…

“You need money to make money and we have no money, so I’m not gonna make any money in selling options or anything like that.”

There are ways around it every time.


Starting your own business try number three

I started getting into real estate, and at first, I started doing residential but I ended up doing a commercial as well

At the time, I was listening to a guy named Sean Terry.

Sean had this podcast called Flip to Freedom and he was teaching how you could go get a house under contract and then in the closing period, flip the contract for like 10 grand more.

If you do one or two of those a year, it’s a lot of money.

I started putting these road signs up all over the place.

Online entrepreneur motivation

We didn’t really have any money, so we spent 300 bucks we basically didn’t have to go put up all these road signs.

I put road signs all over the place, I’m talking tons of ’em.

And I ended up getting a lot of phone calls.

I was like, “Well, let’s go do another campaign.”

***These are campaigns, I wasn’t using the internet!

Same thing; I was getting a list of all the people who had passed away and those who had inherited the house. So it was an inheritee list.
At night, my wife and I, hand-wrote hundreds of letters on legal pieces of paper.

And we wrote ’em, so they looked really weird.

  • It was a yellow piece of paper with a red pen.
  • We did the envelope weird and we didn’t seal it.
  • We did all sorts of stuff to make sure it was noticed.

And between the road signs and these yellow letters, I got 300 phone calls in a month.

We’d only been married like three months, and we had already gone through that whole embarrassing part.

We were about to go through the crazy part, where I found out I was not able to feed her… which you all know that story.

So yes, it’s a real story! And it sucked, right!!!

So I got 300 phone calls, and I was trying to take these contracts and flip them in the closing period.

I learned a lot about, a lot about real estate at that time, and it was awesome, BUT…

Even though I got seven properties under contract, I hadn’t learned how to sell yet, and so I lost all of ’em – which sucked so bad.

Like, “Oh man, that would’ve changed EVERYTHING.”

And it’s partly why I look back and say, “The obstacles’ the way.”

How to get started as an entrepreneur Steve Larsen

The fact that I realized, “I didn’t even know how to sell” made me wanna get better at sales.

I wasn’t ready to give up on the real estate part. I still love real estate. It’s something we’re actually doing right now.

Anyway… between 2007- 2010, that’s when I basically ran away from home and did door to door sales, doing security in LA for a while.

And then I got kicked out of college!

… that time period is not a happy one.

Then I got back into college, so I graduated kinda late for my age.


I found a really cool mentor…

This guy called my road sign and he’s like, “Hey, I know what you’re doing,” and he started mentoring me.

401ks are terrible!

Starting your own business try number four

So he was like, “Hey, if you put your 401k into buying a piece of commercial real estate, you’ll get way more return and get paid, not just on the cash flow, but possibly the appreciation of the property itself.”

So anyway, we started taking 401ks under his wing.

He knew what he was doing, he was a professional, so under his wing, he was teaching me how to take 401ks and invest in massive commercial real estate, and we give a percentage of the property to the person who invested.

It’s really cool. I learned a lot about that.


Starting your own business try number five

We sourced these really cool diamonds, (made sure they weren’t blood diamonds)…

And we’d get custom rings made for people.

People would take three or four pictures of rings they liked and my buddy and me, (super cool guy), would send these pictures over to this company, I think in LA.

They would send back a wax replica of a custom ring from the three or four pictures that the person wanted.

So we’d show them a wax replica, then they’d choose the cut, the clarity, and the color.

Try starting your own business

One of the biggest issues I kept running into was that I didn’t know how to sell

It was like, “I need to learn how to sell.”

It’s one of the reasons I chose door-to-door sales. I wanted to get good at selling in a rough environment.

It was around that time when I started learning more about the internet, and I realized that all these ideas I was doing, involved the internet.


Starting your own business try number six

I started building WordPress websites for people with specific skills.

I built a website for an artist…

And the thing that sucked is I built a website, which already doesn’t sell a lot for an artist, (people who don’t usually make a lot of money).

It was a bust, man – that was the worst thing I’ve ever built in my life.

It was so bad, but…

The obstacles’ the way, right?

And so it got me on the internet and I went and I started filming tons of YouTube videos because I realized the power of content.

It’s around the time I started learning from Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn entrepreneur motivation

If you guys don’t know who Pat Flynn is – I love him, he’s the man.

I keep trying to interview him on Sales Funnel Radio and their assistant keeps saying like, “Okay, we’ll see if we have time.”

And I’m like, “Come over here. I want you to be on Sales Funnel Radio so bad. You changed my life.”

Anyway, I started learning more about YouTube videos and publishing and content and learning more about what affiliate marketing was.

I was like, “This is really cool.”

And I realized that I didn’t know how to sell.

I hadn’t learned that there was a difference between sales and marketing at this point.

By this time, I was married, and that’s when I was like, “I need to go sell.”


Starting your own business try number seven

I was like, “I need to go do door-to-door sales.” Specifically, what I was going to do was pest control.

I was learning enough from Pat Flynn and the people he was interviewing to realize that there was this world called ‘direct response marketing.’

Around this time, I started learning from Frank Kern also, but I didn’t know that was his name.

This was back when he had long hair and looked like a hippie.

I learned that in direct response marketing that for every 100 flyers or mailers that you send out, you’ll get one to two.

So I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna go recruit a huge sales team for door-to-door sales.”

So I learned how to create my own flyers and what copy to use, (this is really when I started getting into more copywriting).

And I spent tons of time between classes, canvassing all the apartments and all the dorm rooms of people on campus.

Because when they came to our little meetings and they got in under me to the door-to-door sales thing, I got an override commission on all these people I brought in.

And that was one of the things that saved our butt.

My wife was an apartment manager at that time and we were barely making it. We were both working so hard. It was so intense.

How to get started as an entrepreneur when times are tough

I started putting ads for our pest control on the internet and my phone started blowing up.

And that’s when I first started learning about the power of selling people who were already looking to buy what you’re selling.

So I don’t have to go deal with all that convincing…

I’m not in the game of convincing because of that experience.

‘The obstacles’ the way…’

…maybe I should name the podcast that 😉

Anyway, that is really when I started getting into Gary V – I listened to the book Crush It!

As I started getting into more of his stuff and I realized, “I needed some more hustle.”

Not that I was lazy before at all, I was hauling, but I realized I could turn up the spicy a little bit.

Halfway through the summer, I was one of the top sales guys but that dropped and plummeted because I started learning about the internet and got distracted.


Starting your own business try number eight

I was still listening to Pat Flynn and Gary V a lot.

And I was like, “I need to go sell e-books ’cause I want some assets to sell and e-books are nothing to fulfill.”

So I wrote the world’s worst e-book on the freaking planet – talk about selling to broke people.

Remember, I’d got kicked out of college and so I had to learn how to learn in order to come back in…

Now, I was now getting almost straight A’s the whole time, (which is pretty cool considering all the other stuff I was doing in between classes), ’cause I learned how to learn faster.

So I was like, “Let me go sell a book to students about how I’m doing all these straight A’s, how to hack the classroom.”

It was the worst e-book’ – I think I had two sales and one was from my mom, “Thank you, mom”.

But that door-to-door sales experience taught me so much about…

  • How sales actually happen
  • Overcoming objections.

I had a framework so that when I saw Dot Com Secrets, I was like, “I see what Russell’s doing.”

I didn’t know who he was at this time yet.

This was about 2013, and that’s when I joined the Army… (I was in for four years, I’ve only been out for like a year-and-a-half).

…but it’s also when I joined my first MLM.


I joined my first MLM in 2013, right before I left for basic training.

And the reason I know that so well is ’cause I kept trying to sell all these other soldiers ’cause I was excited about joining my MLM.

Starting your own business try number nine

I had like 10 people who were super excited to join, but as soon as we all got out, I never saw anybody again and NOTHING happened 😂

We’d be doing push-ups and I’d be selling people.

In the army, you’d get qualified in your MOS and AITs…

I got in trouble because I kept sneaking in all these finance books in the military because I hated what we were learning.

… that was crazy!

This is when I started learning from guys like Mike Dillard, Magnetic Sponsoring, and stuff like that.

This was a big deal for me because I started learning more again about how to attract dream customers to me.

(I forgot about a lot of that.)

Anyway, that’s when I started getting into more like ClickBank and realizing what affiliate marketing was.

And I was diving deep into a guy, his name is Vick Strizheus. I can’t say his last name, but he had a course called High Traffic Academy.

In spite of joining the army, were still broke and desperate – I picked up someone else’s contract because there weren’t any slots left due to a timing issue.

And so I hardly got paid anything; we got insurance, but that was about it.

Starting your own business in the army

So we were still starving and it barely covered our apartment… and so we could barely eat still, even by this time.

I was just hall and balls trying to figure out how to make it happen.

It was the greatest gift ever that none of these tries worked well.

If the stock and options thing worked, I’d still be doing it.

You see what I’m saying?

Like, “The obstacle’s the way, baby!”

Anyway, I’m gonna keep going… you guys get the point.


Starting your own business try number ten

This when I learned (even more so) who Frank Kern was.

It was Frank Kern who I learned the soap opera series and a lot about upsells from. I actually learned that from Frank, not Russell.

But when I saw Russell teach it, you know…

Russell has this amazing gift to teach things that are really complex.

So I was learning a lot of great things from Frank, but Russell brought it to this whole additional level.

Anyway, Frank Kern, if you watch this, you’re the man. I love you, thanks for responding to me on Instagram by the way.

Frank Kern entrepreneur motivation

Anyway, Frank Kern is who gave me the fuel to start doing more ClickBank stuff.

This is like kind of like a hodge-podge time with for me. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I was just being active.

  • I started working with a health company.
  • I pitched Vivint on a funnel – (but I didn’t know that’s what it was yet).

I still hadn’t read Dot Com Secrets at that time and I hardly knew Russell Brunson even existed either.

I’d just done enough to see that I should put a squeeze page in front of an offer, and I learned that from Vick, and Frank Kern.

Because I started getting into more ClickBank and affiliate stuff – which is where my first dollar online came from…

And that was probably like, 2014 – there was a lot that went on!


Starting your own business try number eleven

Then I started working for Paul Mitchell ‘cause ClickBank helped me get pretty good at traffic.

My first dollar online ever came from affiliate marketing – which is so cool and * SO VALIDATING*

If you haven’t made your first dollar yet, just keep pushing till you hit it ’cause it’s like, it melts all of these false beliefs.

That space from zero to one buck is way more than a dollar.

Yeah, oh, man. So nice – that was *HUGE*

The college I was going to, (BYU Idaho) was approached by Paul Mitchell who said, “Hey, we need help.”

The professors were like, “We don’t know what these two kids were doing but go talk to them.”

And we drove lots of traffic online, it was awesome.

That’s one of reasons I know enough about traffic to hire someone else to do it. ‘Cause I learned enough, right?

I only want to learn enough to move forward.

So after Paul Mitchell wouldn’t pay us….

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… and told us to ‘chalk it up as an internship’ – that’s when I met Coulton.


Starting your own business try number 12

At the time, Coulton had his own physical smartphone repair store. He sold off the business and I was like ‘this kid is like one of the only other people doing what we’re learning.’

There were three of us out of all-college that were doing what we were learning and because of that learning more than whatever was in the classroom!

Doing is ALWAYS a better classroom than a classroom.

He was like, “Hey man, I just sold my business. Let’s go start a smartphone insurance business.”

Starting your own business with ClickFunnels

That was the first ClickFunnels funnel I ever built, right there.

By that time it was 2015, and that was my first bill to ClickFunnels… June July, August, it’s one of those three months there.

We were still broke as a joke…

I did get paid a little bit of money from Paul Mitchell but it was like 500 bucks. You know what I’m saying?

Man, we’re still barely getting by, it was like tooth and nail the whole time – which was kind of a blessing because it made me fight way harder than those who had money.

They were like, “Oh, it didn’t work.”

Finding entrepreneur motivation

It was nice that I was broke. I don’t want that now but, it was nice.

Anyway, the Smartphone insurance funnel was the first ClickFunnels funnel I ever built, and it broke even on the ClickFunnels fee, so we had enough customers to break even on it.

After a few months, we stopped doing it ’cause insurance is super hard to make sexy.


Starting your own business try number 13

That’s when I launched the first Secret MLM Hacks CD.

For many of you, this is the first time you ever heard of me. It was a free plus shipping funnel that I started hacking off of Russell.

And again, I was still in the middle of college.

No one bought it for the first 8 months, (a lot of you know the story), and while no one was buying it, I started just practicing with ClickFunnels.

That was around the time that I looked in the mirror and said, “I’m gonna be the best funnel builder in the world.”

How to get started as an entrepreneur with ClickFunnels

Am I? I don’t know. And I don’t care. But the pursuit of that is what caused the rest of this.

Just look at my tries!!!

This is before I even got to ClickFunnels.

Oh, what was cool about the Paul Mitchell and all the sort of stuff that’s going on this time is that’s when I found Jeff Walker and Russell Brunson.

I was deep into this before I even found ClickFunnels.

And with those two, specifically Jeff Walker and Russell Brunson, that was the key for me to know how to launch the smartphone insurance funnel, and then the Secret MLM Hack CD funnel.


Starting your own business with false beliefs

We were still broke and I was still dealing with a whole bunch of internal money false beliefs.

I remember my wife, asked very lovingly, but also very forward, she’s like…

“Every time somebody asks you what you wanna do you, you’re like, ‘Well, maybe I’ll be an entrepreneur but to give it all away. I wanna make some money but only because of this.’”

  • I had A LOT of money objections I had to overcome.
  • A LOT of self-confidence issues.

I was still very afraid to speak to people. I was getting more opinionated and January 2015 is when I started filming my yearly goal video.

You can see it on YouTube.

I have the shaved head ’cause I was in the army, it’s a pretty interesting video.

New entrepreneur motivation

And then every year after that, I did another goal video.

It was before I really knew what ClickFunnels was, and that’s when I started getting into affiliate marketing.

Anyways, just to practice though, I started building some funnels for some other projects.


Starting your own business try number 14

I’d enlisted in the Army and then went through RTC to become an officer – we had a charity mud run for what’s called the Fisher House.

Fisher House is a charity that funds families to fly to whatever hospital a soldier got sent to if they get wounded.

And I built a little funnel that got 650 people to a live mud run and three news stories.

How to get started as an entrepreneur successfully

It was a HUGE success.

It gave me a lot of confidence, which was powerful because that’s around the same time I was also doing another project and this was very key for me.

I’d learned enough about the mechanics of the funnel from the previous three, four, five projects, (and there were others in here, these are the major ones), that I was like…

“Okay, I get the funnel thing.”

And so much of the time, my belief was like, “It’s all about the product, it’s all about the product, it’s all about the product, it’s all about the product.”

That’s why when I say, “It’s NOT all about the product,” it’s a BIG deal ‘cause when I say that I’m speaking from experience.

I was walking around for these two, three, four years like, “What should I sell? What should I sell? What should I sell? What should I sell?”

It was at this point, I finally was like…

  • We need a message.
  • We should make an offer.

I learned this from the man himself, Mr. Russell.

There was a water ionizer company that I built for.

And what was cool about the water ionizer company was that it was “the one” where all these principles started clicking.

You notice that things didn’t click when I was reading a book. It’s when I was actively in the pursuit of launching something else.

All these principles just started snapping together.

At the end of 2015/ beginning of 2016, this all started to happen.

Q: And guess what happened three months later?

A: My first Funnel Hacking Live.

…which is where I met ‘The Man’.

What was cool about the water ionizer one is that the funnels worked, and I made them some major cashola, and it was very validating.

So I started having these successes.

And while they weren’t a lot, it was like break-even, break-even instead of lose, lose, lose, lose, lose, lose, lose, lose…

The water ionizing was when I started getting monthly cash flow which totally changed our life.

I was like, “Oh, jeez, this is sick.”

It was only $1200 a month, but to us, I was freakin King Kong.

You know what I mean?

Anyway, that was a really BIG moment.

So next post, I’m gonna continue from the time that I got to ClickFunnels.

I tried hard to make this game work and it’s one of the reasons I have so much affinity and empathy for those who are actually in this game.

If you’ve been in any of the One Funnel Away Challenges or in my coaching, you know I have so much empathy because of the huge list that I’m sharing here.

It took me a long time to figure this out.

And if I can figure it out, you can definitely figure it out…

  • I was kicked out of college
  • I was mercy graduated from high school.

You guys can do this game.

I have a lot of empathy, but I don’t have sympathy.

I have empathy meaning I feel with you, because look at the huge list. But I don’t feel for you.

I’m not here to feel sorry for you.

Your scenarios and where you are right now is a huge gift.

Hey, if you’re like me, you love marketing and sales strategies, right?

I have a hunger to learn new marketing and sales strategies all the time.

So I recently reached out to 98 marketing experts to ask them how they sell their products…

But I decided I wanted to do it in a clever way, and here’s what I actually asked them…

“Your doctor suddenly delivers terrible news. You’re diagnosed with an unknown disease, and unless you stop working in exactly 90 days, you will die.

You have a thriving business, an epic cash flow but now you need to use your marketing know-how to trim it all down and prepare for your final offer.

What steps would you take to plan, create, and launch your final offer, that will fund the rest of your life?”

Now, of the 98, only about 30 answered.

And I decided that I turn my video interviews with them into a cool FREE virtual summit.

If you want to watch the summit for free and see…

  • What their final offers would be for the rest of their lives
  • How these experts use their skills to keep their offer selling for the long term
  • Even how they set it up so they have very low management

Steve Larsen your final offer summit

…just go to

That’s and sign up for the FREE summit now.

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