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11 Ways To Stand Out And Radically Increase Profit Margins Even In A Crowded Market

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11 Ways To Stand Out And Radically Increase Profit Margins Even In A Crowded Market
McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s…kind of all the same thing, aren’t they? As far as quality goes I would have to rule with either Burger King or Wendy’s over McDonald’s any day of the week.
But who has more business? McDonald’s does. They were around first. And now, even though they’re not the best (in my opinion at least), they’re still the richest.

Unfortunately for Burger King and Wendy’s, they are not going to get ahead by doing the same old thing, but just being a little bit better at it. In a world with massive competition, businesses need to stand out from the crowd.

They need to un-commoditize. That’s what Burger King and Wendy’s are missing. Next to McDonald’s they’re just commodities, even if they are a little better. So if you can’t be McDonald’s, be Taco Bell or Starbucks instead. Don’t be Wendy’s or Burger King.

The beauty about un-commoditizing your business is that it puts you in a category of your own. When you are in your own category, there’s nothing to compare you with. When there’s nothing to compare you with, then there’s no set expectations for how much you should cost.

When that happens, guess who gets to set the expectations? You do, which means you can set your prices drastically higher and radically increase your profit margins. If you can effectively bring in and keep customers without having to compete on price, then you’re probably going to be rich. Does that sound okay with you?

To help you do that, I’ve included a list of 11 strategies that you can use to un-commoditize your business.

 

1. Go with a different look

Marketing expert, Perry Belcher tells of a company he worked with that imported heat sealers from China. “Everybody in the world brings in these little heat sealers from one company in China. They’re an aqua blue color and… just scream, I’m a Chinese heat sealer!

Belcher was able to command a higher price for the exact same heat sealer simply by making it look different. He had the heat sealers painted red instead of blue (which probably didn’t cost him any extra) and sold them through a company with an American sounding name.

Apple does something similar with their shiny white computers that sell for three times the price of a PC. Going with a different look is probably not the only way that you’ll want to stand out, but it might be a great way to start.

 “Be the one to stand out in the crowd.” – Joel Osteen

2. Be aggressively devoted to premium quality

Speaking of Apple, how many times have you heard that one of their products just bombed? Answer: Not recently. In fact, it was reported that preorders for their watch sold out in a matter of hours. Compare that with their main competitor, Microsoft, who has had significant problems with two out of the last four Windows updates.

No wonder Apple products cost so much more. And it’s not just Apple. Think of names like:

  • Rolls-Royce
  • Gucci
  • The Four Seasons
  • Disney
  • Tiffany’s

These are companies that do not compete on price. They get rich competing on quality.

 

3. Bundle physical products with your information products

Thanks to the Internet, selling information products is easier than ever. As a result, everybody is selling information products. After all, why not? The profit margin can be up to nearly 100%. The downside of this is that it becomes very hard to stand out.

With all this competition we’re seeing much lower prices for certain information products than you would have seen only a few years ago. But, if you’re interested in getting rich, then competing on price is a bad idea. Instead, find a way to stand out and charge even higher prices.

A great way to do this is to bundle information products with physical products. For example: A company that sells a course on how to be a better skier could bundle the course with a set of skis and charge a much higher price.

 

4. Bundle information with your physical goods

This is the reverse of what I was just talking about. The Internet has created massive competition for sellers of information and physical goods alike. By bundling information products with your physical goods you can drastically increase profit margins.

Using the same type of example as before: Instead of just selling a set of skis, you could sell them along with a course on how to be an expert skier. By using this strategy you can raise the price significantly, without increasing costs very much.

Luckily, information products are not too hard to come by. You can partner with someone who sells information products. You can offer to publish an information product that someone has created or wants to create. Or, if you have the expertise, the time and the interest, you can create your own information products.  (Note: Just make sure that the information products you use are always top notch.)

 

5. Create a subcategory

Charles Lindbergh was the first person to fly the Atlantic solo. That’s fairly common knowledge. Do you happen to know who the second person was? Nobody knows, even though Bert Hinkler actually did a better job. He made the trip in less time and with less fuel.

But, in business poor Bert would have been nothing more than a me-too product that people ignore. The dominating spot in his market had already been taken, and sometimes people just don’t care if you can do the job better. There’s already a name that they trust.

If you’re new to a market that already has a leader, then you need to create your own subcategory that nobody has claimed yet. You’ve possibly heard of the third person who flew the Atlantic solo. Her name was Amelia Earhart. But no one remembers her as the third person to get the job done. She was the first woman to get the job done. She had her own subcategory.

Want an example? Between Apple and Microsoft the personal computer market is pretty competitive. But what if a company came along and created its own computers with an operating system that is designed specifically and exclusively for gamers?

Between Microsoft having had way too many problems in the last few years and Apple not really focusing on the videogame market, a company who did a great job creating and marketing a computer exclusively for gamers might be very successful.

“Today we’re living in an anti-Waldo world, where you don’t want to blend in and have people struggle to find you. You want your personal brand to stand out like you’re wearing a red and white sweater, and everyone else has on black.”  – Jarod Kintz

6. Create a better guarantee

With so many swindlers out there your customers obviously need to know that they’re not stepping into a trap they can’t get out of. Hopefully that’s not news to you. Unfortunately, in many markets having a 60 day 100% money back guarantee is more of a given than a bonus these days.

Just about everyone has some type of guarantee. If you want to stand out, why not try offering something much better than everyone else. For example you could try offering to refund 110% of your price to any unsatisfied customer. Obviously your risk is slightly higher with such a guarantee.

But your likelihood of losing money instead of gaining much more money with this kind of guarantee is extremely low, assuming you’re offering a quality product or service. What type of superior guarantee could you offer in your business?

 

7. Be a contrarian brand

Whether it be corporate giants, big government, the media or even some charity organizations, people just don’t trust the mainstream establishment anymore. There’s been one too many stories about corporate deception, political bribes and media coverups.

Sometimes to be successful, you can’t just be a little different than everyone else. You have to be the opposite. In The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing Al Ries and Jack Trout write:

A good No. 2 [brand] can’t afford to be timid. Burger King’s most successful years came when it was on the attack. It opened with “Have it your way,” which twitted McDonald’s mass-manufacturing approach to hamburgers. Then for some unknown reason Burger King got timid and stopped attacking McDonald’s. It even started a program to attract little kids, the mainstay of McDonald’s strength. Burger King’s sales per unit declined and have never returned to the level they were when it was on the attack.”

How could you attack the status quo and make your business an opposite brand? Remember: What you’re offering doesn’t have to be the exact opposite or even necessarily very different. What has to be opposite is your message and how you position yourself.(Note: After all, Burger King was never really that different from McDonald’s.)

Stand Out

8. Create an outstanding acquisition offer

Thanks to the Internet creating a global marketplace, small businesses can reach more customers than ever before. But the Internet is a mixed blessing. Yes, you can reach a vastly increased pool of potential customers. But, you are also placed next to a vastly increased number of competitors.

Add this to the fact that today’s buyers are more skeptical than ever, and you may have a real problem on your hands. The good news is that all your competitors face that same dilemma, which gives you a chance to get ahead of them… if you use smart strategies.

Today’s buyers are so skeptical, they tend to stick with brands that they know and trust. But, how are they ever going to trust you if they never give you a chance? The trick is getting that first sale which allows you to knock their socks off and prove that your brand is the one that deserves their business.

A great way to do this is with an acquisition offer. An acquisition offer is a high-value, low priced offer that allows you to acquire a new customer and prove to them the quality of your brand. If you can prove to them that your brand offers great quality and service, then they’ll probably keep on buying from you in the future.

Cable/Internet companies have a tendency to do this by offering a deeply discounted rate for a limited time. During that discounted phase they’re hoping to prove how great their service is, so that you’ll stay with them long-term.

An example of a similar strategy is McDonald’s dollar menu. Maybe you go there just to buy that one dollar burger. But what do they do once you’re there? They ask “Would you like fries and coke with that?” I guarantee you, they’re not getting rich off the sale of one dollar burgers. They’re getting rich off the sale of side dishes and soft drinks.

 

9. Focus on a benefit your competitors don’t talk about

Sometimes what you sell doesn’t actually have to be different. Sometimes what is different is what you say and who you say it to. Let’s say there are five different companies that buy the same type of soap from the same manufacturer.

One company emphasizes how good their soap is for dry skin. One company emphasizes the powerful germ killing effect of their soap. Another company tells people that they offer THE soap to use if you want to smell and feel like an attractive lady. One company emphasizes how refreshed and clean their customers will feel after they get out of a shower with this soap. The last company emphasizes how effective their soap is at eliminating body odor.

Now, these companies might have asked for a bit of customization. Maybe they each have their logos on the bars of soap. Maybe one company asked for their soap to be colored blue while another asked for pink, but they are all selling the same exact soap!

None of them are lying. All the soap being sold by these companies is good for dry skin, eliminating B.O., killing germs and so on. Yet these five companies are able to sell the exact same product to different target markets simply by emphasizing different benefits.

The beauty is that all five might end up being very successful even if they charge high prices, because they’re just selling next to each other. They’re not competing with each other.

 

10. Describe your process and why it’s good (even if it’s not unique)

Let’s take that last soap example a little bit further. Let’s say that there is a sixth company that starts buying some of the same soap from the soap manufacturer. They’re just passionate about the germ killing effects of this soap and they don’t want to come up with a different angle to use to sell to a different target market.

Their problem is that there is already another company, with an established brand, selling that same product to that same market. The new company will want to find a way to differentiate itself. This can actually be as simple as telling their customers why their product works so well.

Instead of just saying: “Our soap is THE soap to use to kill germs.” They can say: “Our soap is THE soap to use to kill germs because we include powerful, state-of-the-art antibiotics in our formula. The germs won’t stand a chance.”

By saying this, they are able to differentiate themselves and sell the exact same product to the exact same market for the exact same reason. If they sell their product using this message they may be able to get a serious advantage over the company that was already selling to the germ killing market.

Because they sell it as a product using state-of-the-art science, they could likely charge an even higher price than the already established company. It doesn’t matter that the first company has those antibiotics too, because the customer doesn’t know that.

And the first company can’t suddenly start talking about the powerful antibiotics in their formula, because they will then look like the me-too company. They’ll have to come up with a new reason why they are still the best germ killing soap company.

 

11. Offer out of this world customer service

Am I the only one who hates having to call help or customer support at companies? First you have to wait forever to actually talk to a person. You never know if they’re actually going to know what they’re doing and be helpful or if they will be ignorant, stubborn or rude.

So why not be the company that blows their customers away with how good they are treated? Try these:

  • Try guaranteeing to answer the phone by the third ring.
  • Try offering to have someone come out to your customer’s home or office to help them assemble your product and/or teach them how to use it.
  • Follow up after a purchase with a friendly phone call and make sure everything is alright. Ask if they have any questions or anything else you can help them with.
  • Be relentlessly helpful, friendly and generous every step of the way.

 

Conclusion

Un-commoditizing your business is not only possible. It’s essential if you want to compete and win in a competitive global marketplace.

Once you un-commoditize your business, you’ll have the power to drastically raise prices and increase profit margins without getting compared to cheaper alternatives. If you truly and successfully un-commoditize your business then there are no alternatives.

These 11 strategies can help you stand out in business. So, which un-commoditizing strategy are you going to try first?

Seth Coyne is a copywriter and branding consultant. Click here to download his Innovation Cheatsheet with 9 hacks to creating an endless stream of brilliant ideas for entrepreneurship, business growth and career advancement. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Alice Dartnell

    Jul 28, 2015 at 7:11 am

    Fab article! Some really useful, but most importantly applicable, ideas.

  2. web development minneapolis

    Jun 14, 2015 at 3:48 am

    This website definitely has all of the info
    I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    • Seth

      Jun 19, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      Glad you found this helpful!

  3. Stefanie

    Jun 11, 2015 at 8:11 am

    Hey Seth,
    thank you for this awesome article, offering a lot of high quality content!
    I find it kind of difficult to pick up that one strategy to start with first, since I think it’s important to have them all working together. However, as I am in the information business, strategy no. 3, Bundle physical products with your information products, is the strategy that made me think first. I noticed that at least here in Germany, people often give a higher value to physical than to a digital product. A combination would definitely increase the perceived value.
    Cheers
    Stefanie

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Startups

Your Competition Is Magnificent – Quit Being A Sook

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I’ve got this friend and he’s always crying about the competition. He spends a lot of time sooking about them and coming up with plans to take them down.

I’ve put up with it for a while, but now it’s driving me nuts. I started to think: how can we learn to love our competition in business?

Here are some thoughts I had about your competition:

 

Thought #1 – You say they’re lying. Good!

My friend says his competition is lying. Many businesses lie and that’s fantastic news for you. When a business lies, they are playing the short game.

“The long game in business is about being so vulnerable, authentic and real that it punches your ideal customer in the face every time they hear about your brand”

Trust in business, leads to incredible progress. All those marketing campaigns your competitor’s use are mostly to make them sound like something they are not. When your business is trustworthy, you don’t need to market as much.

Being honest cuts through the hype and because it’s so rare, your ideal customer runs towards you at 110km, with their arms wide open. Right behind them are all of their network who are begging to hear from a business that is a real – a business that is like you and me.

Don’t hate your dishonest competition: learn to love them from the bottom of your heart. See the love in your competition.

 

Thought #2 – There’s enough room for everyone

This scarcity mindset that you have to own 100% of the market in your first three years of operations is bulldust. There’s room for you and your competitors. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon to reach the unicorn status that is success/world domination.

Feeling like you’re drowning in competition is exactly that. Focusing on your competition 24/7 makes you feel like absolute garbage after a while. It stops you from having a good night sleep full of dreams that contain growth, prosperity, optimism and triumph towards your businesses mission.

I used to be that guy that couldn’t sleep because of competition. Every time someone brought out the same product that was cheaper than mine, I cracked it. I thought that business was so hard because there were so many people that wanted to cut my lunch.

What I forgot is that despite all the competition, people were still buying. Even if we weren’t the cheapest, it didn’t matter. Some people would find us and buy, and others wouldn’t.

The competition can only cut your lunch for so long. If you stick at it and not let the thoughts of their horrible shadows upset you, you’ll be soon making the lunches and cutting theirs.

 

Thought #3 – It’s ugly

Sooking like a pissed off brown bear with a crown on its head is ugly. You’re showing everyone you work with that you are a sore loser. Winners worry about their own business first.

“Winners know that their business isn’t an immaculate diamond on day one”

Every time my friend complained about his competitors; it made his business seem ugly. I stopped becoming drawn to it as I did at the start. The conversations became more about his competitors than his own business. The focus was lost on competitors which he couldn’t control.

 

Thought #4 – You can’t win every deal

No business wins 100% of the opportunities that are presented. There’s this lie that you have to be always winning to be successful. There’s this belief that some people have that says their business is unique and therefore it’s only normal that when they pitch, they will always win.

Again, this is total BS. Your business might have some unique strengths, but there’s always competition. Some deals you’ll win and some deals you won’t. You don’t need to win all the time to put food on the table and be successful.

I’m also competitive by nature and I’ve had to settle sometimes for the simple fact that I won’t win all the time. Sometimes losing a deal is only the beginning. The opportunities you lose are where all the lessons are.

“Your lost opportunities are what strengthen your entire value proposition to the market”

 

Thought #5 – Seeing your competitors suck is inspiring

When a competitor of yours has a major failure, you should be inspired. What I mean is that you should never want your own client base to suffer the same gunshot to the head. Instead of trash talking your competitors for their mistakes, use them as inspiration to not be like them.

Your competitors should form part of the reason why you exist. You should exist not to make the same dumb mistakes they do. You should exist so your customers have a better alternative. Having horrendous companies within the same industry has inspired many businesses like Uber and Airbnb.

Being a business full of inspiring people is easier when everyone else sucks.

 

Thought #6 – Complaining shows insecurity

By my friend complaining about his competition, what he revealed to me was his insecurity. He was showing me that he lacked the confidence in his own product and so it made sense for him to talk down everyone else’s.

The thing is when you love your product and genuinely believe it’s the best in its field, you forget about everyone else’s. Believing in your product offering comes from the confidence that as a business you believe in yourselves.

If you believe, your ideal customer will believe. Bagging your competition may make you feel better in the short term, but it will never make your business grow.

Thought #7 – You only have so much thinking space

Don’t waste it thinking about your competitors. Use your thinking space to come up with new ideas, to innovate and to WOW your customers. These habits will stop you from living in the scarcity that comes with being obsessed by your competition.

Thinking about your competitors is not going to make them go away. Complaining about them will not improve your product or service. To have a good business, you have to operate from a place of creativity. Being creative is hard work and so you don’t want throw away your thinking space.

Dreaming about your competitors puts you in a spiral of negative thoughts. These thoughts start to overtake the positive ones and pretty soon you can’t be relentlessly optimistic anymore. It’s this optimism that helps you come up with ideas that will change the world.

Much like we compare ourselves to the lives we live through looking at other people’s social media, focusing on your competitor’s forces you to always believe you don’t have enough.

I’m here to say you are good enough. Your business is good enough. Your business can be one of the great’s.

 

Thought #8 – You can actually do business with your competitors

Here’s the really stupid thing: You can actually do business with your competitors. See, your business can’t fulfill every customer need. Instead of saying “We don’t do that,” use your competitors as referral partners.

I can remember in a business that I was a part of, where we used our competitors over the road to supply us with stock when we ran out and had items on back order. We would do the same thing for them when they ran out of stock. As a result, we always had stock.

“Our competitors over the road taught us lots of things we would have never known if we tried to play the solo game. Business is a team sport”

 

***Final thought***

Your competition is not the problem. They’re not the reason why you are losing sales. The real reason you are focused on your competition is because something is wrong with the way you are thinking. Your competitors can force you to sabotage your own success if you don’t stop focusing on them.

Complaining about your competitors never get’s you anywhere. The way to fast-track your success is to get intimate with your competitors and find a way to be uniquely you. Find a way to be bold, authentic, real, sexy and unwavering in your businesses values. Be the honest, cool company that is friends with everybody. That’s how you go from being a sook to being the best in your field.

I want you to use your competition to be world-class. You deserve it.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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5 Ways to Avoid Burning Out While Building Your Business

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how to avoid burnout

Isn’t it strange how mundane things can bring back really vivid memories? As the burnt toast hit the trash, I remembered how burn out meant my first online business ended up on the scrapheap (nearly taking me with it). 

Juggling a full-time job, family, volunteering and running an online business left me physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted. Just like toast, the burn creeps in slowly and when complete, you’re left unable to nourish yourself or anything else.

You may have already heard run-of-the-mill advice like taking regular breaks to prevent burn out. But what’s the point of stepping away from work only to be stressed that things will fall apart?

Here are five not-so-obvious ways to become burn out proof:

1. Create the right systems

Having no systems (or the wrong systems) is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, systems get a bad rap because they can be seen as snooze fests. Who’s ever heard of a sexy system? I sure haven’t!

To make matters worse, traditional systems have a sterile and stuffy image that can make some entrepreneurs feel boxed into something that’s unsuitable for their needs.

The key to making systems work for your business is to design them with flexibility, so your creativity isn’t stifled. Systems that curb burn out are those that account for the ‘secret sauce’ of how you do business. This ensures authenticity, even when your business grows. I call these flexible and personalized systems ‘productivity recipes.’ Because, just like normal recipes, you have the core ingredients and you can make tweaks to suit your business taste.

We’re all different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all business system. Productivity recipes focus on the human side of systems. They bring order to repetitive tasks while taking into account the quirks that make your business unique.

Productivity recipes stop burn out by preventing you from biting off more than you can chew, especially when your business is growing.

2. Get apps ‘talking’ to each other

Automation is another way to hand over repetitive and stressful work. Services like IFTTT and Zapier connect the apps you use to automate your workflow. In other words, they get rid of the biggest time sucks in your business.

Part of creating productivity recipes is to spot tasks you can automate. This will help your business run like a well-oiled machine and save you money when outsourcing.

Start out automating everyday tasks, like social media and email management, by finding out how the apps can ‘talk’ to each other.

Do yourself (and your health) a favour and start to create productivity recipes to see what you can automate. The aim is to drop repetitive tasks like a hot potato to reduce the risk of burnt out. Get your apps communicating to free up time to chat with friends and family.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

3. Outsource

Outsourcing should be done when you already have productivity recipes in place. It’s tempting to hand over parts of your business to a VA or freelancer and forget about it, but this approach could land you in hot water.

With productivity recipes, anyone you hire will have the blueprint of how you expect things to be done. You’ll also save time getting new hires up to speed. Most importantly, your clients won’t get any nasty surprises or unwelcome changes when you grow your team.

You’ll be able to take time out to recharge your batteries, having all the confidence that your business will continue to function properly in your absence.

4. Find some cheerleaders

Being part of a supportive group is crucial to making yourself burn out proof. Informal groups, like Facebook communities, are helpful networks that can prevent you going down the burn out road.

If you’ve been working non-stop and your brain feels as limp as the lettuce in the sandwich you’ve been too busy to eat, connect with people who can identify with where you are and encourage you to take a step back.

The best groups are those that aren’t strictly business. Look for a group with dedicated days for sharing things like inspirational quotes and jokes to lighten things up a little.

Feeling like you’re the only one who experiences overwhelm can be a lonely place. Being part of a community where people share their struggles helps to provide perspective that you can achieve your goals without compromising your health.

“Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.” – Misty Copeland

5. Inject your personality into your passion

When you’re passionate about your work, it seems like you can work day and night without ever feeling tired. Of course, it’s advisable to make time for proper rest. I’ve found that, the more I enjoy work, the more I look after myself to reduce the risks of becoming ill. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs be more productive to avoid burn out. I’m also a huge foodie. That’s why I incorporate food and drink analogies in my work because being fed and watered is something we can all relate to.

Injecting your personality into your work makes everything easier. It’s very draining pretending to be someone you’re not. If you’re already pursuing your passion, add a splash of your personality to reduce the chance of burn out.

Suffering from burn out is a serious setback to your health and business. It’s a relief to know that, unlike the burnt toast that ends up in the trash, you can make a full recovery from burn out. But why take the risk in the first place? Put in place practical measures to avoid getting burnt when the heat is turned up in your business.

It’s good to share. What do you put in place to make sure you don’t burn out? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

How do you avoid burning out when things get tough? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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3 Lessons I Learned From the Failure of My First Startup

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startup failure

You’re exhausted. You’ve put countless of hours into an idea that you believed in so much. Literally almost blood, sweat and tears were sacrificed for this vision to be accomplished. You had hoped and expected for a lot of things, and was excited to have plans for the future.

A few months ago, I wrote an article here titled, “What I Learned After Opening My First Business at 21.” My restaurant was doing well that time, and writing that article made me feel on top of the world. I thought that it was going to be that way for a long time, yet not so long after that, sales started to become stagnant and then declined.

As I write this today, my restaurant has already stopped operations. It stopped a few days ago, but a couple months back, I knew it was bound to happen. We couldn’t keep up with the bills we needed to pay, and they kept accumulating day by day. With a heavy heart and chaotic mind, we knew we had to close it down.

I couldn’t believe this was happening barely one year after starting operations. But if you were to ask me that if I had the chance to start over, would I do it again? I would still say yes. Despite its failure, there were still very important (also expensive) lessons that I learned that I would never have acquired otherwise if I didn’t start the business.

Here are a few lessons I learned after failing my first startup:

1. Entrepreneurship requires resilience

You cannot ever be successful if you haven’t developed resilience. Whether you like it or not, something will turn out wrong in your business. Maybe sometimes not to the point that it needs to be shut down, but something that could make your decisions critical to your organization goals.

You could give yourself time to grieve, but it shouldn’t stop there. Life goes on. And you need to get back on your feet if you still want to make a difference. The biggest companies that are successful right now all experienced a massive amount of failure.

But they never stopped trying. Because with every failure comes a lesson. Anyone with common sense would learn from that failure, and start again with more knowledge on what to do and what not to do.

Whenever I thought about the accumulated debts of my restaurant, I would have this sinking feeling in my chest and stomach. I knew that I would have to liquidate the assets. So I continued to search for buyers of the assets.

Instead of grieving for a much longer period, I knew I’d have to pick myself back up again so I could pay the debt. It might be hard at first, but if you call yourself an entrepreneur, quitting is not an option. We fail, we learn, then get back up.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

2. Learn to listen

Being a first-time founder, I had a very idealistic attitude. I had no experience in the food industry and established the business with only the belief that my partners and I would make it. I was wrong.

Aside from not being able to make it with that business, I realized what the naysayers had been telling me all along. But you have to be careful here. There are naysayers who have no credibility to back up what they say and want to bring you down. But there are also ones who speak from experience and are genuinely concerned for you. You must learn to discern the right voices to listen to if you want to succeed.

Taking risks is good, but make sure those risks are calculated and not reckless. We took a risk that wasn’t entirely reckless, but not all aspects of them were calculated. We were unsure of some parts of the business, and just “winged” it. Look at what happened to winging it!

Know when you need to jump with both feet or just one, but also listen to the voices who tell you when to put your feet in the water. Trust me, you never know when you will value their input.

3. Your failures do not define you

I never thought this would take a toll on my self-esteem, even when I knew I had to get back up. On the outside I looked normal. Going to school, work, and social settings looking like nothing had happened. But inside I was a wreck and didn’t want to admit it.

I would feel guilty whenever people would praise me about how “successful” I was at such a young age but that wasn’t true. For a while I thought that I was the failure. My insecurities started haunting me again and my browser history was filled with questions on what to do.

That was when I discovered that successful people failed more often than they succeeded. Even the ones with smaller businesses had their fair share of failures before finding an idea that worked for them.

But their failures never got to their heart. They weren’t the failures. The business failed, not them. So they tried again until they got it right. Maybe this business didn’t work out for me, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never be successful. The sooner you believe your failures don’t define you, the more the weight will be lifted off your shoulders.

People fail every single day. The difference between the ones who succeed and those who don’t is persistence and the drive to continue even after failing. It’s much better to try and fail than never having to start and learn nothing.

“Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble.” – Shah Rukh Khan

Have you ever started a business that eventually failed? What did you learn from it? Please leave your experiences below!
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Want A Business Idea That’s Guaranteed To Make You Money? Here’s How You Should Start.

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business ideas

Let’s first start off with the “why”. When you know why you’re doing something, it can create clarity in your tasks, and direct your efforts. So, grab a sheet of paper, or a notebook and let’s get started.

Answer this question: Why do I want to start a business? Here are some common answers.

  • to do something I love
  • to create financial freedom so I can, “fill in the blank” (travel, pay off debts, buy expensive things, etc.)
  • to have the freedom to set my hours, choose when I work and what I work on
  • to help others, using my skills
  • I hate my job

Once you know why you’re doing it, you’ll have a better idea of what your goals are.

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born.” – Mark Twain

Start With Your Skills

At the heart of every business, and profession is the solution to a problem. If you can identify a problem that a group of people are having and solve it for them, you have the makings of a successful business.

Start with your current skill set. Everyone has skills, passions and talents in one area or another. What we fail to sometimes see is the ability for those skills to solve a problem for others in a meaningful way.

You can also ask family and friends to help you identify your skills. They may point out strengths you never considered. Keep in mind you don’t need to have mastered that skill yet, you can continue to learn and develop it as you go along. Ray Higdon a successful business man says to “Invest, learn then teach”.

Invest in yourself and improving your skills, learn more about your niche, and creating solutions to their problems, then teach others what you’ve learned.

Once you’ve got that down, the next step is doing some research. What problems are people having that you could use your current skill set to help solve? This is where picking a niche comes in handy. A niche refers to a small specialized portion of the population.

Let’s say, you’re a stay at home parent, and one of your skills is cooking healthy family meals that your kids enjoy. Your niche will likely be stay at home parents. You can then narrow down your search by checking forums and website or magazines that target stay at home parents.

“If you do what you love, it is the best way to relax.” – Christian Louboutin

What To Look For in Your Research?

Look for pain points and problems, especially those that are recurring. You may find that cooking healthy meals is not necessarily where parents are struggling, maybe it’s with purchasing healthy foods or the cost (money and time) of healthy meals. You want to look at the questions people are asking, and take note of the language they use to describe their problems. Nutritious vs. healthy. Quick vs. easy.

Finally, take note of products that offer solutions to those problems. These offer ideas to you about ways in which you can present your solution; Youtube channels, specialized cookbooks, how-to guides, online courses, etc.

By the time you’ve followed all these steps, you would have established 3 things:

  1. A monetizable skill set — You know what your skills are and how you can use them
  2. Proof of a Need — People have a problem that you can solve, and now you know who they are.
  3. A Profitable Market — If people are buying said cookbooks, or paying for products, this shows you that they are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

This is the beginning of any business. Fast Food restaurants offer quick meals on the go, Walmart puts everything in one place so people don’t have to travel to different stores, books entertain or instruct, cars transport and save time. At the heart of every product and business is a need, and you are now on your way to creating a solution that people are already looking for!

What is a business you want to start? Share your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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4 Steps to Take Right Now to Snap Out of Your Funk

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How to get out of a funk

Maybe you’re spending sleepless nights tossing and turning in bed, or perhaps you’re sleeping in until noon. Maybe all you hear are the sad songs, and all you think of are the terrible things that are happening. (more…)

Edwin S. Soriano, Executive Life Coach, Trainer, Author of "You Can Be Happy Again" book. Over the past ten years, I've helped thousands of people create positive change,  permanent transformations in their life. We do this through life coaching, training, books and online content. I help CEOs, Entrepreneurs and business leaders develop their people as a key strategy for growing their business. Learn more at www.edwinsoriano.com and www.winningcoaching.net .

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Alice Dartnell

    Jul 28, 2015 at 7:11 am

    Fab article! Some really useful, but most importantly applicable, ideas.

  2. web development minneapolis

    Jun 14, 2015 at 3:48 am

    This website definitely has all of the info
    I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    • Seth

      Jun 19, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      Glad you found this helpful!

  3. Stefanie

    Jun 11, 2015 at 8:11 am

    Hey Seth,
    thank you for this awesome article, offering a lot of high quality content!
    I find it kind of difficult to pick up that one strategy to start with first, since I think it’s important to have them all working together. However, as I am in the information business, strategy no. 3, Bundle physical products with your information products, is the strategy that made me think first. I noticed that at least here in Germany, people often give a higher value to physical than to a digital product. A combination would definitely increase the perceived value.
    Cheers
    Stefanie

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Startups

Your Competition Is Magnificent – Quit Being A Sook

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I’ve got this friend and he’s always crying about the competition. He spends a lot of time sooking about them and coming up with plans to take them down.

I’ve put up with it for a while, but now it’s driving me nuts. I started to think: how can we learn to love our competition in business?

Here are some thoughts I had about your competition:

 

Thought #1 – You say they’re lying. Good!

My friend says his competition is lying. Many businesses lie and that’s fantastic news for you. When a business lies, they are playing the short game.

“The long game in business is about being so vulnerable, authentic and real that it punches your ideal customer in the face every time they hear about your brand”

Trust in business, leads to incredible progress. All those marketing campaigns your competitor’s use are mostly to make them sound like something they are not. When your business is trustworthy, you don’t need to market as much.

Being honest cuts through the hype and because it’s so rare, your ideal customer runs towards you at 110km, with their arms wide open. Right behind them are all of their network who are begging to hear from a business that is a real – a business that is like you and me.

Don’t hate your dishonest competition: learn to love them from the bottom of your heart. See the love in your competition.

 

Thought #2 – There’s enough room for everyone

This scarcity mindset that you have to own 100% of the market in your first three years of operations is bulldust. There’s room for you and your competitors. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon to reach the unicorn status that is success/world domination.

Feeling like you’re drowning in competition is exactly that. Focusing on your competition 24/7 makes you feel like absolute garbage after a while. It stops you from having a good night sleep full of dreams that contain growth, prosperity, optimism and triumph towards your businesses mission.

I used to be that guy that couldn’t sleep because of competition. Every time someone brought out the same product that was cheaper than mine, I cracked it. I thought that business was so hard because there were so many people that wanted to cut my lunch.

What I forgot is that despite all the competition, people were still buying. Even if we weren’t the cheapest, it didn’t matter. Some people would find us and buy, and others wouldn’t.

The competition can only cut your lunch for so long. If you stick at it and not let the thoughts of their horrible shadows upset you, you’ll be soon making the lunches and cutting theirs.

 

Thought #3 – It’s ugly

Sooking like a pissed off brown bear with a crown on its head is ugly. You’re showing everyone you work with that you are a sore loser. Winners worry about their own business first.

“Winners know that their business isn’t an immaculate diamond on day one”

Every time my friend complained about his competitors; it made his business seem ugly. I stopped becoming drawn to it as I did at the start. The conversations became more about his competitors than his own business. The focus was lost on competitors which he couldn’t control.

 

Thought #4 – You can’t win every deal

No business wins 100% of the opportunities that are presented. There’s this lie that you have to be always winning to be successful. There’s this belief that some people have that says their business is unique and therefore it’s only normal that when they pitch, they will always win.

Again, this is total BS. Your business might have some unique strengths, but there’s always competition. Some deals you’ll win and some deals you won’t. You don’t need to win all the time to put food on the table and be successful.

I’m also competitive by nature and I’ve had to settle sometimes for the simple fact that I won’t win all the time. Sometimes losing a deal is only the beginning. The opportunities you lose are where all the lessons are.

“Your lost opportunities are what strengthen your entire value proposition to the market”

 

Thought #5 – Seeing your competitors suck is inspiring

When a competitor of yours has a major failure, you should be inspired. What I mean is that you should never want your own client base to suffer the same gunshot to the head. Instead of trash talking your competitors for their mistakes, use them as inspiration to not be like them.

Your competitors should form part of the reason why you exist. You should exist not to make the same dumb mistakes they do. You should exist so your customers have a better alternative. Having horrendous companies within the same industry has inspired many businesses like Uber and Airbnb.

Being a business full of inspiring people is easier when everyone else sucks.

 

Thought #6 – Complaining shows insecurity

By my friend complaining about his competition, what he revealed to me was his insecurity. He was showing me that he lacked the confidence in his own product and so it made sense for him to talk down everyone else’s.

The thing is when you love your product and genuinely believe it’s the best in its field, you forget about everyone else’s. Believing in your product offering comes from the confidence that as a business you believe in yourselves.

If you believe, your ideal customer will believe. Bagging your competition may make you feel better in the short term, but it will never make your business grow.

Thought #7 – You only have so much thinking space

Don’t waste it thinking about your competitors. Use your thinking space to come up with new ideas, to innovate and to WOW your customers. These habits will stop you from living in the scarcity that comes with being obsessed by your competition.

Thinking about your competitors is not going to make them go away. Complaining about them will not improve your product or service. To have a good business, you have to operate from a place of creativity. Being creative is hard work and so you don’t want throw away your thinking space.

Dreaming about your competitors puts you in a spiral of negative thoughts. These thoughts start to overtake the positive ones and pretty soon you can’t be relentlessly optimistic anymore. It’s this optimism that helps you come up with ideas that will change the world.

Much like we compare ourselves to the lives we live through looking at other people’s social media, focusing on your competitor’s forces you to always believe you don’t have enough.

I’m here to say you are good enough. Your business is good enough. Your business can be one of the great’s.

 

Thought #8 – You can actually do business with your competitors

Here’s the really stupid thing: You can actually do business with your competitors. See, your business can’t fulfill every customer need. Instead of saying “We don’t do that,” use your competitors as referral partners.

I can remember in a business that I was a part of, where we used our competitors over the road to supply us with stock when we ran out and had items on back order. We would do the same thing for them when they ran out of stock. As a result, we always had stock.

“Our competitors over the road taught us lots of things we would have never known if we tried to play the solo game. Business is a team sport”

 

***Final thought***

Your competition is not the problem. They’re not the reason why you are losing sales. The real reason you are focused on your competition is because something is wrong with the way you are thinking. Your competitors can force you to sabotage your own success if you don’t stop focusing on them.

Complaining about your competitors never get’s you anywhere. The way to fast-track your success is to get intimate with your competitors and find a way to be uniquely you. Find a way to be bold, authentic, real, sexy and unwavering in your businesses values. Be the honest, cool company that is friends with everybody. That’s how you go from being a sook to being the best in your field.

I want you to use your competition to be world-class. You deserve it.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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5 Ways to Avoid Burning Out While Building Your Business

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how to avoid burnout

Isn’t it strange how mundane things can bring back really vivid memories? As the burnt toast hit the trash, I remembered how burn out meant my first online business ended up on the scrapheap (nearly taking me with it). 

Juggling a full-time job, family, volunteering and running an online business left me physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted. Just like toast, the burn creeps in slowly and when complete, you’re left unable to nourish yourself or anything else.

You may have already heard run-of-the-mill advice like taking regular breaks to prevent burn out. But what’s the point of stepping away from work only to be stressed that things will fall apart?

Here are five not-so-obvious ways to become burn out proof:

1. Create the right systems

Having no systems (or the wrong systems) is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, systems get a bad rap because they can be seen as snooze fests. Who’s ever heard of a sexy system? I sure haven’t!

To make matters worse, traditional systems have a sterile and stuffy image that can make some entrepreneurs feel boxed into something that’s unsuitable for their needs.

The key to making systems work for your business is to design them with flexibility, so your creativity isn’t stifled. Systems that curb burn out are those that account for the ‘secret sauce’ of how you do business. This ensures authenticity, even when your business grows. I call these flexible and personalized systems ‘productivity recipes.’ Because, just like normal recipes, you have the core ingredients and you can make tweaks to suit your business taste.

We’re all different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all business system. Productivity recipes focus on the human side of systems. They bring order to repetitive tasks while taking into account the quirks that make your business unique.

Productivity recipes stop burn out by preventing you from biting off more than you can chew, especially when your business is growing.

2. Get apps ‘talking’ to each other

Automation is another way to hand over repetitive and stressful work. Services like IFTTT and Zapier connect the apps you use to automate your workflow. In other words, they get rid of the biggest time sucks in your business.

Part of creating productivity recipes is to spot tasks you can automate. This will help your business run like a well-oiled machine and save you money when outsourcing.

Start out automating everyday tasks, like social media and email management, by finding out how the apps can ‘talk’ to each other.

Do yourself (and your health) a favour and start to create productivity recipes to see what you can automate. The aim is to drop repetitive tasks like a hot potato to reduce the risk of burnt out. Get your apps communicating to free up time to chat with friends and family.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

3. Outsource

Outsourcing should be done when you already have productivity recipes in place. It’s tempting to hand over parts of your business to a VA or freelancer and forget about it, but this approach could land you in hot water.

With productivity recipes, anyone you hire will have the blueprint of how you expect things to be done. You’ll also save time getting new hires up to speed. Most importantly, your clients won’t get any nasty surprises or unwelcome changes when you grow your team.

You’ll be able to take time out to recharge your batteries, having all the confidence that your business will continue to function properly in your absence.

4. Find some cheerleaders

Being part of a supportive group is crucial to making yourself burn out proof. Informal groups, like Facebook communities, are helpful networks that can prevent you going down the burn out road.

If you’ve been working non-stop and your brain feels as limp as the lettuce in the sandwich you’ve been too busy to eat, connect with people who can identify with where you are and encourage you to take a step back.

The best groups are those that aren’t strictly business. Look for a group with dedicated days for sharing things like inspirational quotes and jokes to lighten things up a little.

Feeling like you’re the only one who experiences overwhelm can be a lonely place. Being part of a community where people share their struggles helps to provide perspective that you can achieve your goals without compromising your health.

“Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.” – Misty Copeland

5. Inject your personality into your passion

When you’re passionate about your work, it seems like you can work day and night without ever feeling tired. Of course, it’s advisable to make time for proper rest. I’ve found that, the more I enjoy work, the more I look after myself to reduce the risks of becoming ill. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs be more productive to avoid burn out. I’m also a huge foodie. That’s why I incorporate food and drink analogies in my work because being fed and watered is something we can all relate to.

Injecting your personality into your work makes everything easier. It’s very draining pretending to be someone you’re not. If you’re already pursuing your passion, add a splash of your personality to reduce the chance of burn out.

Suffering from burn out is a serious setback to your health and business. It’s a relief to know that, unlike the burnt toast that ends up in the trash, you can make a full recovery from burn out. But why take the risk in the first place? Put in place practical measures to avoid getting burnt when the heat is turned up in your business.

It’s good to share. What do you put in place to make sure you don’t burn out? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

How do you avoid burning out when things get tough? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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3 Lessons I Learned From the Failure of My First Startup

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You’re exhausted. You’ve put countless of hours into an idea that you believed in so much. Literally almost blood, sweat and tears were sacrificed for this vision to be accomplished. You had hoped and expected for a lot of things, and was excited to have plans for the future.

A few months ago, I wrote an article here titled, “What I Learned After Opening My First Business at 21.” My restaurant was doing well that time, and writing that article made me feel on top of the world. I thought that it was going to be that way for a long time, yet not so long after that, sales started to become stagnant and then declined.

As I write this today, my restaurant has already stopped operations. It stopped a few days ago, but a couple months back, I knew it was bound to happen. We couldn’t keep up with the bills we needed to pay, and they kept accumulating day by day. With a heavy heart and chaotic mind, we knew we had to close it down.

I couldn’t believe this was happening barely one year after starting operations. But if you were to ask me that if I had the chance to start over, would I do it again? I would still say yes. Despite its failure, there were still very important (also expensive) lessons that I learned that I would never have acquired otherwise if I didn’t start the business.

Here are a few lessons I learned after failing my first startup:

1. Entrepreneurship requires resilience

You cannot ever be successful if you haven’t developed resilience. Whether you like it or not, something will turn out wrong in your business. Maybe sometimes not to the point that it needs to be shut down, but something that could make your decisions critical to your organization goals.

You could give yourself time to grieve, but it shouldn’t stop there. Life goes on. And you need to get back on your feet if you still want to make a difference. The biggest companies that are successful right now all experienced a massive amount of failure.

But they never stopped trying. Because with every failure comes a lesson. Anyone with common sense would learn from that failure, and start again with more knowledge on what to do and what not to do.

Whenever I thought about the accumulated debts of my restaurant, I would have this sinking feeling in my chest and stomach. I knew that I would have to liquidate the assets. So I continued to search for buyers of the assets.

Instead of grieving for a much longer period, I knew I’d have to pick myself back up again so I could pay the debt. It might be hard at first, but if you call yourself an entrepreneur, quitting is not an option. We fail, we learn, then get back up.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

2. Learn to listen

Being a first-time founder, I had a very idealistic attitude. I had no experience in the food industry and established the business with only the belief that my partners and I would make it. I was wrong.

Aside from not being able to make it with that business, I realized what the naysayers had been telling me all along. But you have to be careful here. There are naysayers who have no credibility to back up what they say and want to bring you down. But there are also ones who speak from experience and are genuinely concerned for you. You must learn to discern the right voices to listen to if you want to succeed.

Taking risks is good, but make sure those risks are calculated and not reckless. We took a risk that wasn’t entirely reckless, but not all aspects of them were calculated. We were unsure of some parts of the business, and just “winged” it. Look at what happened to winging it!

Know when you need to jump with both feet or just one, but also listen to the voices who tell you when to put your feet in the water. Trust me, you never know when you will value their input.

3. Your failures do not define you

I never thought this would take a toll on my self-esteem, even when I knew I had to get back up. On the outside I looked normal. Going to school, work, and social settings looking like nothing had happened. But inside I was a wreck and didn’t want to admit it.

I would feel guilty whenever people would praise me about how “successful” I was at such a young age but that wasn’t true. For a while I thought that I was the failure. My insecurities started haunting me again and my browser history was filled with questions on what to do.

That was when I discovered that successful people failed more often than they succeeded. Even the ones with smaller businesses had their fair share of failures before finding an idea that worked for them.

But their failures never got to their heart. They weren’t the failures. The business failed, not them. So they tried again until they got it right. Maybe this business didn’t work out for me, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never be successful. The sooner you believe your failures don’t define you, the more the weight will be lifted off your shoulders.

People fail every single day. The difference between the ones who succeed and those who don’t is persistence and the drive to continue even after failing. It’s much better to try and fail than never having to start and learn nothing.

“Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble.” – Shah Rukh Khan

Have you ever started a business that eventually failed? What did you learn from it? Please leave your experiences below!
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Want A Business Idea That’s Guaranteed To Make You Money? Here’s How You Should Start.

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business ideas

Let’s first start off with the “why”. When you know why you’re doing something, it can create clarity in your tasks, and direct your efforts. So, grab a sheet of paper, or a notebook and let’s get started.

Answer this question: Why do I want to start a business? Here are some common answers.

  • to do something I love
  • to create financial freedom so I can, “fill in the blank” (travel, pay off debts, buy expensive things, etc.)
  • to have the freedom to set my hours, choose when I work and what I work on
  • to help others, using my skills
  • I hate my job

Once you know why you’re doing it, you’ll have a better idea of what your goals are.

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born.” – Mark Twain

Start With Your Skills

At the heart of every business, and profession is the solution to a problem. If you can identify a problem that a group of people are having and solve it for them, you have the makings of a successful business.

Start with your current skill set. Everyone has skills, passions and talents in one area or another. What we fail to sometimes see is the ability for those skills to solve a problem for others in a meaningful way.

You can also ask family and friends to help you identify your skills. They may point out strengths you never considered. Keep in mind you don’t need to have mastered that skill yet, you can continue to learn and develop it as you go along. Ray Higdon a successful business man says to “Invest, learn then teach”.

Invest in yourself and improving your skills, learn more about your niche, and creating solutions to their problems, then teach others what you’ve learned.

Once you’ve got that down, the next step is doing some research. What problems are people having that you could use your current skill set to help solve? This is where picking a niche comes in handy. A niche refers to a small specialized portion of the population.

Let’s say, you’re a stay at home parent, and one of your skills is cooking healthy family meals that your kids enjoy. Your niche will likely be stay at home parents. You can then narrow down your search by checking forums and website or magazines that target stay at home parents.

“If you do what you love, it is the best way to relax.” – Christian Louboutin

What To Look For in Your Research?

Look for pain points and problems, especially those that are recurring. You may find that cooking healthy meals is not necessarily where parents are struggling, maybe it’s with purchasing healthy foods or the cost (money and time) of healthy meals. You want to look at the questions people are asking, and take note of the language they use to describe their problems. Nutritious vs. healthy. Quick vs. easy.

Finally, take note of products that offer solutions to those problems. These offer ideas to you about ways in which you can present your solution; Youtube channels, specialized cookbooks, how-to guides, online courses, etc.

By the time you’ve followed all these steps, you would have established 3 things:

  1. A monetizable skill set — You know what your skills are and how you can use them
  2. Proof of a Need — People have a problem that you can solve, and now you know who they are.
  3. A Profitable Market — If people are buying said cookbooks, or paying for products, this shows you that they are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

This is the beginning of any business. Fast Food restaurants offer quick meals on the go, Walmart puts everything in one place so people don’t have to travel to different stores, books entertain or instruct, cars transport and save time. At the heart of every product and business is a need, and you are now on your way to creating a solution that people are already looking for!

What is a business you want to start? Share your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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