During the start-up phase of your new business, selling must be your top priority. It must consume 80 percent of your and your employees' time, interest, and creativity. But what about the other 20 percent? Can that be devoted to buying office furniture and business cards?

I have a story about that. About 15 years ago, I got in touch with an old high school friend who was down on his luck. A very bright and creative guy, he had begun his career in a promising fashion, but alcoholism and other personal problems got in the way. When I reconnected with him, he was sober and looking for an opportunity to make up for lost time. So I gave it to him.

Although he had no experience in the industry, I got him a job as CEO of a Stage One merchandise marketing business I was consulting with. The revenues were about $400,000 at the time and growing quickly. We had figured out the optimum selling strategy (OSS), and made it clear that his job was to make sure we just kept doing what our four employees already knew how to do: sell our only product to people whose names and addresses were on a small number of mailing lists that we had identified as being very productive for us.

There was one thing he had to pay close attention to. He had to make sure that we rented all the new names on those lists as soon as they became available. If we didn't get to those people immediately with an offer, one of our competitors would get them. ...

Get Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.