January 2018 Review – Real World MBA

Here we are at the beginning of February already! Even though we just began on January 9, it feels like it's been more than a month. In less than 4 weeks, I have learned more about the fundamentals of starting an online business than in the entire 2 years I have worked in the marketing industry. There is a big difference in strategy and tactics between planning for a large corporate client and getting your own thing up and off the ground. I began this with the mindset of "I want to learn marketing to run my own business," so let's see how that played out in the month of January.



If you haven't found it already, here is the updated live update sheet with everything we do covered on it. Check back often, and feel free to reach out with suggestions!

(Tabs for previous months on the bottom)

I want to learn marketing. Where do I start?

I made the decision to start this out very basic, so that anyone following along can start from zero and be okay with the content. For starting an online business, I think both Facebook and Google offer invaluable insight, analytics, and targeting tools. We start with Facebook, and will move into Google once we have the basics down, such as installing a Pixel, basic ad campaign, and perhaps creating a lookalike audience if we can drive enough traffic.

On top of this, any aspiring business creator / entrepreneur should have some sense of what they want from life. I'm not saying you have to have it all figured out when you get started, but understand – are you doing this to improve employment opportunities or do you want to run your own show? For this reason, I have started off with a heavy slew of books and podcasts about entrepreneurship because my personal goal is to start something sustainable that will allow me to be my own boss. Regardless, it's important to have an understanding of both sides, and the skills we cover in this project will serve you well either in your own company or someone else's.

The Stats


Cost Breakdown

My goal is to stay within $250 per month on basic materials, and up to $250 per month on any necessary tools for a total of $500/month on average. *I live in Japan, so doing a rough translation of 100 yen = $1 to keep it simple.

23% of Monthly Budget Spent


Actual Spend

The above includes $56 on a Kindle (on sale) from Amazon, and about $5 for a pen and notebook

This project is predicated on the idea of doing an MBA without the cost of going to school, so we're keeping it cheap. Cheap doesn't mean ineffective – everything we buy leads to actionable results if you want to learn marketing and how to start a business.

Time Breakdown

I work a full time (and more) job, so this needs to be doable in the hours before/after work and weekends. I lost some valuable hours this month to work because of overtime and mental fatigue – will have to address this somehow in February because it's going to get worse before it gets better. Next month will also include more "active" hours of implementation

99% project time spent learning

27 hours

Actual Time

If you want to learn marketing in any meaningful way, you have to put in the time. Keeping in mind that the above is from January 9 - February 1, I will strive to improve my stats for February by exceeding 40 hours of project time, including at least 25% "action" time. Do what works best for you, but in a perfect world (to get results) I have a feeling this needs to become the equivalent of at least another full time job.

The Material

As a "kickoff" month, I felt I was lacking direction at first. Do I just want to learn marketing, or do I want to learn how to start and run a business? This is the Real World MBA after all. In the end, I have decided that the focus will be on starting my own ecommerce project, that I will execute based on what I learn here about driving traffic and building an audience. The material I chose to begin with covers a bit of entrepreneurial mindset/philosophy, marketing basics, and business fundamentals. Some of it fell flat, but some was very worthwhile.

*Regarding books, I will only cover them in the monthly review for the month they were completed.

End of Jobs by Taylor Pearson

  • check
    Fantastic intro to entrepreneurship
  • check
    Easy read, engaging writing
  • Sets the tone for the entire project
  • exclamation-triangle
    Quite heavily focused on online opportunities if that's not your thing

Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

  • check
    Follow up to "Crush It!" with material for 2018
  • check
    Less of Gary talking about himself than the podcast, more good info
  • Love him or hate him, Gary gets it and lays it all out for you to learn
  • exclamation-triangle
    Feels a bit short – very tactical but assumes you already know what you want to accomplish

"An Entire MBA in 1 Course," by Chris Haroun Course (UDEMY)

  • check
    You learn about why he thinks Sequoia Capital is a great VC firm
  • I'm 32 "lectures" in, and he has only covered VC topics
  • exclamation-triangle
    Goes from "how to powerpoint 101" to "now you have $1M in VC funding"
  • exclamation-triangle
    Odd interludes with false location backgrounds

Podcast checklist

To add to the above books and Udemy course, I also spend lots of time consuming podcasts. I do this while I commute and workout, to maximize my input on busy days. A good business podcast is a nice supplement to keep your head in the game during time you would normally not be learning!

Putting it all together

If you want to learn marketing, or how to run your own business, I hope this project is giving you some insight. However, no amount of reading or consuming can replace the value of action.

That's why February's goal includes 25% of time spent on putting this into practice, and growing a small ecommerce business from zero. My list of February goals, taken from the live updated project sheet here is as follows:

1. Complete at least 1 book every week
2. Set up automated email sequence
3. Launch Facebook ads at $10/week
4. Complete Udemy course
5. Start podcast around completed content
6. Decide on product/service for "sandbox" website
7. Continue Facebook Blueprint
8. Start connecting with small business owners for their insight on further material or content they would have found valuable
9. Not get burned out at work while building and managing loyalty program project
10. Journal daily

Reach out with suggestions

Suggest changes, additions, whatever you want – this is an open and developing project to benefit you, so let's build it together!

Get Real World MBA Updates

Get material and book reviews, project updates, and email-list-only insights into the creation of the Real World MBA