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Do You Start a Business With an Audience, Product, or Problem?

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Andy Black

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Finally, someone going against the current gold rush / flavour of the month.

I'm tired of hearing about audience and community growth being the only or best way to build a business. There’s so many people focused on building Facebook groups as if it’s the end goal, instead of helping people and figuring out how to get paid.

@MJ DeMarco created products that people loved and shared, and *that* is what made sales and created his audience.

Note that this is an Indie Hackers email so it’s directed to software developers creating SaaS products.

(Shame this email doesn't have a version on a website, otherwise I'd be able to link to it.)

@MTF ... thought you might be interested in this in particular.

Product Lead Growth beats Audience Lead Growth.png

It reminds me of these threads:

EDIT: Found the page with the full newsletter:
 
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MTF

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Finally, someone going against the current gold rush / flavour of the month.

I'm tired of hearing about audience and community growth being the only or best way to build a business. There’s so many people focused on building Facebook groups as if it’s the end goal, instead of helping people and figuring out how to get paid.

@MJ DeMarco created products that people loved and shared, and *that* is what made sales and created his audience.

Note that this is an Indie Hackers email so it’s directed to software developers creating SaaS products.

(Shame this email doesn't have a version on a website, otherwise I'd be able to link to it.)

@MTF ... thought you might be interested in this in particular.

View attachment 41836

It reminds me of these threads:

EDIT: Found the page with the full newsletter:

I read this newsletter. I'd say that most people on Indie Hackers focus on their product, and they do it way too much. They're great at building nicely looking stuff but then it's game over when they have to market it. But that's also because most people on IH build software, not a service (that is way easier to sell right away).

An audience-based business at least helps you identify your target customer so in this aspect it's better as you're more likely to fall in love with your audience (who you want to serve) than your product (which may not be the right solution).

I find this article explains it very well:

In short, the suggested order is:
  1. The problem you're solving and people who have it (the market) > it doesn't necessarily mean building an audience but it does mean understanding who specifically you can serve
  2. The distribution channels to reach customers > I find that this is completely overlooked and I struggle with the same thing; now I won't consider any business models where I don't know clearly where to reach customers
  3. The monetization model you use to make money > I assume he means stuff like free with ads, affiliate marketing, subscription, one-time payment, freemium, etc.
  4. The solution to the problem (your product or service) > notice that the product comes last and I think it's correct because you don't really know the right solution until you get to know the market.
Also wanted to add that most startups from IH are in the entrepreneur/tech niche. Several of these top channels like ProductHunt, Hacker News, and Powered by will NOT work at all for other niches.
 

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A rant related to the previous post...

1. I actually like to visit Indie Hackers and check what's going on there because many people there spend a lot of time building stuff. Maybe a lot of it never grows beyond 4-5 figures but at least they're shipping stuff and sooner or later something will scale. Compare it to many wantrepreneurs who keep looking for that perfect business idea for years. The reason why I've been reading more stuff on IH recently is precisely to avoid becoming that wantrepreneur. I realized I'm too obsessed about finding that perfect new business rather than building something and seeing how it goes. Maybe it goes nowhere but each new attempt is a new ACTIVE learning experience.

2. So many startups these days revolve around the startup/business/tech world. It's becoming sort of like money making gurus teaching others how to teach others how to make money online, only now you have tools, directories, SaaS, and other stuff like that addressing people wanting to make money selling these tools to others wanting to sell these tools to others. Lol that's confusing but that's how I see it: a closed industry with most people blindly creating products for other people EXACTLY like them instead of finding a fresh, underserved audience.

I see the same on Twitter. Most business ideas in these sexy Twitter threads from "money Twitter experts" rehash the same services/products for the same business/startup/tech crowd.

Where's solving the problems of, say, martial arts gyms instead of becoming another digital marketing agency? Where's selling products for pet owners instead of yet another website flipping business? Where's coaching skills like woodworking instead of coaching how to make money, pursue your passion, or other nebulous coaching business?

Don't get me wrong. I like the money-related niches but I feel like this is so overplayed now. There REALLY are other audiences than your typical startup/business/owner/investor/VC/tech engineer, etc.
 

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A rant related to the previous post...

1. I actually like to visit Indie Hackers and check what's going on there because many people there spend a lot of time building stuff. Maybe a lot of it never grows beyond 4-5 figures but at least they're shipping stuff and sooner or later something will scale. Compare it to many wantrepreneurs who keep looking for that perfect business idea for years. The reason why I've been reading more stuff on IH recently is precisely to avoid becoming that wantrepreneur. I realized I'm too obsessed about finding that perfect new business rather than building something and seeing how it goes. Maybe it goes nowhere but each new attempt is a new ACTIVE learning experience.

2. So many startups these days revolve around the startup/business/tech world. It's becoming sort of like money making gurus teaching others how to teach others how to make money online, only now you have tools, directories, SaaS, and other stuff like that addressing people wanting to make money selling these tools to others wanting to sell these tools to others. Lol that's confusing but that's how I see it: a closed industry with most people blindly creating products for other people EXACTLY like them instead of finding a fresh, underserved audience.

I see the same on Twitter. Most business ideas in these sexy Twitter threads from "money Twitter experts" rehash the same services/products for the same business/startup/tech crowd.

Where's solving the problems of, say, martial arts gyms instead of becoming another digital marketing agency? Where's selling products for pet owners instead of yet another website flipping business? Where's coaching skills like woodworking instead of coaching how to make money, pursue your passion, or other nebulous coaching business?

Don't get me wrong. I like the money-related niches but I feel like this is so overplayed now. There REALLY are other audiences than your typical startup/business/owner/investor/VC/tech engineer, etc.
I agree. And why do you need to be teaching someone something?

How about repairing RV's or selling RV parts? What about milling rocks and clearing trees for property owners? Lots of money to be made dredging rivers and canals, or hauling sand too. The boring makes up the majority of the world, and most private millionaires' paychecks.

I still like tech. I still like real estate. Trades are undervalued right now. There's a lot out there.
 
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MTF

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I agree. And why do you need to be teaching someone something?

How about repairing RV's or selling RV parts? What about milling rocks and clearing trees for property owners? Lots of money to be made dredging rivers and canals, or hauling sand too. The boring makes up the majority of the world, and most private millionaires' paychecks.

I still like tech. I still like real estate. Trades are undervalued right now. There's a lot out there.

See, even when giving my examples I fell victim to the same thing lol. I wanted to portray different things but still completely missed mentioning all offline (and online) opportunities in boring industries/serving "boring" clients.
 

Andy Black

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many people there spend a lot of time building stuff
Aha. I wrote a thread about that:
Somewhere in there we even discuss not “building an audience”.

I see the same on Twitter. Most business ideas in these sexy Twitter threads from "money Twitter experts" rehash the same services/products for the same business/startup/tech crowd.
I was pretty active on Twitter last year.

Initially I was in tech/indie hacker Twitter and quite enjoyed chatting to other techies. Then my feed starting getting more money Twitter stuff and that turned me off Twitter completely. I saw lots of anonymous accounts spewing platitudes, tagging each other, and selling “How to make money on Twitter” courses. It had a real Warrior Forum MMO feel.

On tech Twitter I saw this supposedly new “build in public” movement where indie hackers journal how they’re building their software so it also builds an audience at the same time and helps them build a better product. (I had to chuckle as business forums have been using progress-threads and follow-alongs for years.)

The only problem was that it appeared the indie hackers audience always seemed to be people just like themselves. So if they were to sell to their audience it would be tools for other indie hackers. Hence your observation @MTF that they’re don’t appear to be helping folks in other industries.

I like that they build stuff but, like you, I think they spend too long on the product and almost actively avoid engaging the market.
 

Andy Black

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@thechosen1 @MTF

I always go back to my electrician friend who fixes appliances.

He doesn’t have an audience.

He doesn’t post on social media.

He doesn’t really have a website, just a landing page and some Google Ads campaigns built by some handsome expert.

Does he have the best offer on the market? I don’t know, and neither do his visitors.

They just care that when they want their washing machine repaired in their location that they found a guy who repairs washing machines in their location.

Ad -> Simple Offer -> Sale
 
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thechosen1

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@thechosen1 @MTF

I always go back to my electrician friend who fixes appliances.

He doesn’t have an audience.

He doesn’t post on social media.

He doesn’t really have a website, just a landing page and some Google Ads campaigns built by some handsome expert.

Does he have the best offer on the market? I don’t know, and neither do his visitors.

They just care that when they want their washing machine repaired in their location that they found a guy who repairs washing machines in his location.

Ad -> Simple Offer -> Sale
We have a great business, and we don't advertise, we don't need social media, we don't need an audience. Heck, we really didn't even need a website since we don't sell to consumers. It's more of a liability than anything (link rot, spammers, email hacking, etc)

We DO contend with huge regulatory burdens, complex technical problems, safety issues, and more.

The results you find for "business" on the internet are naturally skewed towards the internet. It's just the way it is. You're not gonna find info on most of the stuff that's out there.

You could build a $50 million per year company in an offline industry without ever making a facebook, twitter, website, etc.
 

MTF

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The results you find for "business" on the internet are naturally skewed towards the internet. It's just the way it is. You're not gonna find info on most of the stuff that's out there.

That's a good point. And while I'm tired of the examples I mentioned, at the same time I'd feel more at home pursuing those projects than launching an offline business. So I'm your stereotypical hypocrite lol.

You could build a $50 million per year company in an offline industry without ever making a facebook, twitter, website, etc.

Running a business without social media would be a dream. I have many business ideas but when I think I'd have to rely on social media to get traffic I just don't want to do it. Bad attitude, I know.
 

MJ DeMarco

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@MTF @Andy Black @thechosen1 -- this sounds like a convo that needs to be extracted from the main thread... can you link to where it starts and I can move it, and give me a good title for it.
 
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MTF

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@MTF @AndyBlack @chosen1 -- this sounds like a convo that needs to be extracted from the main thread... can you link to where it starts and I can move it, and give me a good title for it.

It starts with Andy's post:

Then mine:

Then it goes all the way until my post before yours.

Title ideas:
Do You Start a Business With an Audience, Product, or Problem?
You Don't Have to Start a Business With an Audience
What Do You Need to Start a Business?
 

MJ DeMarco

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It starts with Andy's post:

Then mine:

Then it goes all the way until my post before yours.

Title ideas:
Do You Start a Business With an Audience, Product, or Problem?
You Don't Have to Start a Business With an Audience
What Do You Need to Start a Business?

Thanks, moved.
 

CaptainAmerica

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I had a new customer today *thank me* for having my service available. My website is a hand built piece of poop. I haven't posted any business stuff on FB or Twitter in so long they're sending me almost daily reminders. It's weird. When I played the run-after-clients game, I was stressed about not doing enough. Enough posting, blogging, engaging, copywriting. It's 10am and I've already made $700. I got started at 9.

I solve a problem. People pay me. It really is that simple. Finally.
 
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Andy Black

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My website is a hand built piece of poop.
Lol. I love how precious you are about your website.

I didn’t have a website for years. I kinda still don’t.

And I still use YouTube as a free video host so I can direct people to videos.

I solve a problem. People pay me. It really is that simple.
100%.

Business is simple:

Help people. Get paid. Help more people.

It’s only complicated because we don’t keep it simple.

To be fair, it’s hard to keep it simple when there’s so many experts telling us how complicated it is and how we need their solution.
 

Andy Black

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when I think I'd have to rely on social media to get traffic I just don't want to do it. Bad attitude, I know.
Not a bad attitude imo. I guess that’s standard for business owners. I particularly don’t like the idea of being on social media or content treadmills. Posting something evergreen and helpful appeals more to me.
 

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Not a bad attitude imo. I guess that’s standard for business owners. I particularly don’t like the idea of being on social media or content treadmills. Posting something evergreen and helpful appeals more to me.

A lot of companies don't go all the way with it and that can leave a bad impression.

I can't tell you how many times I have seen comments on facebook in which people have a question or mention a problem with a product or service and then nobody responds. I often see follow-up customer posts later where the customer says nobody ever responded or customer service was bad and publicly shame the company. That is worse than having no social presence.

Part of that frustration is that many companies have social media people who aren't tied into customer service. They might just be outsourced slackers.

Even businesses with only a few people in it aren't immune to criticism though. I've seen small software companies in which the owner / coder is off fighting fires and doesn't have time to even look at facebook while the reputation degrades.

To me, if you aren't going to go all the way with it, it can be dangerous.
 
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Note that this is an Indie Hackers email so it’s directed to software developers creating SaaS products.
And it's feeding their biases if you ask me... because people want to be justified in what they already believe in.

But, being honest here. Most people with great products that I know are broke.

Especially in today's world, it's access to media & credibility that makes the difference.

Too many people focus on conversions, but without traffic, you've got nothing.

Someone is controlling that traffic. It may be Indiehackers, Reddit, whatever. Doesn't matter. Someone OWNS that traffic.

And you need to get control over it, and direct it your way.

That requires great marketing.

Without that, even the best product won't stand a chance. It's just impossible to be noticed.

Building a brand involves capturing some of that traffic for yourself. Existing brands already own traffic.

It's easy for Apple to get attention.

Easy for Coke to get attention.

Easy for McDonald's to do it.

Imagine this...

Tony Robbins says "Andy's the man, go buy his Google Ads course, the best there is to help you get customers". Next day Andy, you'll be a millionaire in cold hard cash. That's literarily all it takes.

No "great product" can rival that.
 

MTF

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And it's feeding their biases if you ask me... because people want to be justified in what they already believe in.

But, being honest here. Most people with great products that I know are broke.

Especially in today's world, it's access to media & credibility that makes the difference.

Too many people focus on conversions, but without traffic, you've got nothing.

Someone is controlling that traffic. It may be Indiehackers, Reddit, whatever. Doesn't matter. Someone OWNS that traffic.

And you need to get control over it, and direct it your way.

That requires great marketing.

Without that, even the best product won't stand a chance. It's just impossible to be noticed.

Building a brand involves capturing some of that traffic for yourself. Existing brands already own traffic.

It's easy for Apple to get attention.

Easy for Coke to get attention.

Easy for McDonald's to do it.

Imagine this...

Tony Robbins says "Andy's the man, go buy his Google Ads course, the best there is to help you get customers". Next day Andy, you'll be a millionaire in cold hard cash. That's literarily all it takes.

No "great product" can rival that.

I agree 100%. Made me think of this:

1080x360-png.41057


This is why I like businesses that make it easy to grow your own list because it's the ultimate asset you can have. Just gotta be careful to add only people who are actually interested in buying your products.

Also, this is why these days I tend to think you HAVE TO start with figuring out your distribution channels. If you don't know where to easily find your target audience (and be able to show them your offer), you're most likely going to fail.
 

Andy Black

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The article was talking about different marketing channels for indie hackers, and put “Having an existing audience” 7th. I understood that as meaning folks do better accessing other people’s audiences.

The reason I posted the article was because I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter in their communities that they *need* to build an audience first.

I’ve also been hearing on various podcasts etc that if you don’t build a community you haven’t really built a business.

It seems to me a lot of shovel sellers are pushing “build an audience” and “build a community” as THE way to build a business.

I question that, and was pleased to see an article in their community pushing back on it.

I used MJ’s products (books and forum) as an example of how an audience can build around a product.

And there’s countless examples of businesses doing just fine without an audience or community.
 
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The article was talking about different marketing channels for indie hackers, and put “Having an existing audience” 7th. I understood that as meaning folks do better accessing other people’s audiences.

The reason I posted the article was because I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter in their communities that they *need* to build an audience first.

I’ve also been hearing on various podcasts etc that if you don’t build a community you haven’t really built a business.

It seems to me a lot of shovel sellers are pushing “build an audience” and “build a community” as THE way to build a business.

I question that, and was pleased to see an article in their community pushing back on it.

I used MJ’s products (books and forum) as an example of how an audience can build around a product.

And there’s countless examples of businesses doing just fine without an audience or community.

I think we're ultimately talking about the same thing.

What the shovel sellers are pushing are IMO "communities" defined as Discord, Facebook groups, etc. What I mean (and what I assume @Black_Dragon43 means) is having access to an audience AND transitioning them to your platform (and it can be as simple as a list of contact data or a newsletter, NOT necessarily a "true" community).

So you ARE building an audience but not necessarily a "community." Not every business has to create a movement but it definitely wouldn't hurt most businesses to do that.

Also, I'd argue that pretty much every content-based business starts with building an audience (blog, newsletter, podcast, YouTube channel). These can be incredibly lucrative in the long term and very rewarding for solopreneurs. Businesses where you sell products/services right away are often reserved for those who have already figured out how to help their market. This isn't always so clear for many businesses so people like to have an audience first and learn directly from them. Probably takes more time but it's a possible route as way.

What's most important is what you said: there's no single "correct" way to build a business. Do what you want as long as you help people.
 

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I understood that as meaning folks do better accessing other people’s audiences.
I am 100% behind this. Someone already owns those customers. Figure out who, and get a deal done that allows you to access them.

The reason I posted the article was because I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter in their communities that they *need* to build an audience first.
And there’s countless examples of businesses doing just fine without an audience or community.
Well, where do we set the bar Andy? The corner hairdresser is also doing just fine without building an audience, brand, community or anything of that kind. People just go there and cut their hair. Pay a few bucks. But they'll never be able to expand unless they do something differently, the owners will always work there, and so on. Is that our standard of just fine?

I see such businesses as lucky that they're still in business. The founders worked very hard, without much knowledge, and this was the best they could do - survive. But the business has a lot greater potential if they just applied smarter methods to grow it. There are many business owners out there who've ended up in that position due to circumstance, without much knowledge as to what makes a business tick. In fact, the VAST majority of business owners are in this case, they just own a job, which happens to be their business. At least for me, that's not a model worth following.

As marketers, it's our duty, the way I see it, to figure out what's good, and what's bad, and to differentiate in a way that someone who doesn't have our expertise simply cannot.

Also, MJ in my opinion isn't the example of someone who built things around product only. This forum, literarily a community, an audience, existed before the book. And I'm quite sure that this forum itself was instrumental in selling the book, to the point that, without this forum, it would have been much harder. I may be wrong about this, of course, but I know the initial buyers came from here, and in my honest opinion, the value people get by being members here is huge. Today the books and the forum work synergistically to provide that value.

And MJ did plenty of organic traffic generation for his lead gen business, as well as some paid methods from what I've read around. So hardly "product-only" there either.
 

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A rant related to the previous post...

1. I actually like to visit Indie Hackers and check what's going on there because many people there spend a lot of time building stuff. Maybe a lot of it never grows beyond 4-5 figures but at least they're shipping stuff and sooner or later something will scale. Compare it to many wantrepreneurs who keep looking for that perfect business idea for years. The reason why I've been reading more stuff on IH recently is precisely to avoid becoming that wantrepreneur. I realized I'm too obsessed about finding that perfect new business rather than building something and seeing how it goes. Maybe it goes nowhere but each new attempt is a new ACTIVE learning experience.

2. So many startups these days revolve around the startup/business/tech world. It's becoming sort of like money making gurus teaching others how to teach others how to make money online, only now you have tools, directories, SaaS, and other stuff like that addressing people wanting to make money selling these tools to others wanting to sell these tools to others. Lol that's confusing but that's how I see it: a closed industry with most people blindly creating products for other people EXACTLY like them instead of finding a fresh, underserved audience.

I see the same on Twitter. Most business ideas in these sexy Twitter threads from "money Twitter experts" rehash the same services/products for the same business/startup/tech crowd.

Where's solving the problems of, say, martial arts gyms instead of becoming another digital marketing agency? Where's selling products for pet owners instead of yet another website flipping business? Where's coaching skills like woodworking instead of coaching how to make money, pursue your passion, or other nebulous coaching business?

Don't get me wrong. I like the money-related niches but I feel like this is so overplayed now. There REALLY are other audiences than your typical startup/business/owner/investor/VC/tech engineer, etc.

A rant related to the previous post...

1. I actually like to visit Indie Hackers and check what's going on there because many people there spend a lot of time building stuff. Maybe a lot of it never grows beyond 4-5 figures but at least they're shipping stuff and sooner or later something will scale. Compare it to many wantrepreneurs who keep looking for that perfect business idea for years. The reason why I've been reading more stuff on IH recently is precisely to avoid becoming that wantrepreneur. I realized I'm too obsessed about finding that perfect new business rather than building something and seeing how it goes. Maybe it goes nowhere but each new attempt is a new ACTIVE learning experience.

2. So many startups these days revolve around the startup/business/tech world. It's becoming sort of like money making gurus teaching others how to teach others how to make money online, only now you have tools, directories, SaaS, and other stuff like that addressing people wanting to make money selling these tools to others wanting to sell these tools to others. Lol that's confusing but that's how I see it: a closed industry with most people blindly creating products for other people EXACTLY like them instead of finding a fresh, underserved audience.

I see the same on Twitter. Most business ideas in these sexy Twitter threads from "money Twitter experts" rehash the same services/products for the same business/startup/tech crowd.

Where's solving the problems of, say, martial arts gyms instead of becoming another digital marketing agency? Where's selling products for pet owners instead of yet another website flipping business? Where's coaching skills like woodworking instead of coaching how to make money, pursue your passion, or other nebulous coaching business?

Don't get me wrong. I like the money-related niches but I feel like this is so overplayed now. There REALLY are other audiences than your typical startup/business/owner/investor/VC/tech engineer, etc.
Lol, as confusing as it sounds, I get the whole point. I think it boils down to producer vs consumer again.

Yesterday while driving, that producer vs consumer popped into my head. I was having a conversation with a friend about weight loss, and I expressed there are so many healthy and genuine options to be self-empowered and put in the work, from growing the pesticide-free foods to preparing meals etc., and she agreed, immediately informing me of someplace where she buys her ready-prepared food and how it's really good etc., needless to say it's made of unhealthy items - BUT, it's ready-made; that's where I remembered that society is so deeply wired to consume, consume, consume that for many, it is difficult to pull oneself away from the masses and produce.

Looking at the points you raised about teachers selling products, teaching others to teach and similar, the producer vs consumer mindset is prevalent, even in that aspect of "entrepreneurship." I don't know if it's a psychological thing where people are eager to refer to themselves as entrepreneurs instead of employees, but, as "entrepreneurs," a lot of them piggyback off others doing the work for them. So, many would prefer purchasing a product that can be replicated, once they don't have to necessarily put in the work to so much as tweak tiny aspects of it to attend to the needs of others, separating them from the rest. But then again, needs? What needs? Most of the focus is on how much money can be made from a theoretical perspective, which we know in many cases do not work out the same way in reality.

It comes the same way that many may come across the first few chapters of any of MJ's books and then gets pumped and ready to enter entrepreneurship and the first post would be something like - "How can I become a millionaire by next month?" or anything along similar lines. Any one of the books literally spell out the whole formula of going from 0 to successful and meaningful entrepreneur, but in most cases, many see dollar signs, without the willingness to put in the work necessary.

Most of the people selling the courses teaching others how to teach so they can sell to others to teach is like a bad pyramid scheme where the only ones making the money are the ones on top who came up with the concept of selling the teaching programmes, teaching others to teach.

In Andy's original post he expresses additional possibilities of creating products that really help people and how to channel it from product/service to traction to audience, and it gives a spin on building something really good that WILL be of purpose to others. Being on the TFF, I learnt the importance of this, but in the beginning, when I knew head nor tails about business, it was the same way I thought - I believed I needed an audience first.

It is unfortunate that many who build exceptional products on Indie Hacker, possibly do not believe in the quality they produce to take it to that next level of success!?! Possibly it's the marketing aspect? Or the inability to scale it?

100%.

Business is simple:

Help people. Get paid. Help more people.

It’s only complicated because we don’t keep it simple.

To be fair, it’s hard to keep it simple when there’s so many experts telling us how complicated it is and how we need their solution.

Going through my process, I had to come to terms with the simplicity of business and I had to stop myself from over-complicating my journey. It required an entire mindset/personality/spiritual change, but it was necessary.

What often fascinates me, is the way that many seemingly established businesses explode with success and then, we see a notice of "going out of business." It comes as a shocker, yes, but, possibly it's due to having lost the basis of what made them successful initially, specifically when they become money-driven, instead of purpose-driven.
 
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It is unfortunate that many who build exceptional products on Indie Hacker, possibly do not believe in the quality they produce to take it to that next level of success!?! Possibly it's the marketing aspect? Or the inability to scale it?

They simply love building stuff but hate selling it. Which I understand very well but still, they're doing themselves a huge disservice not trying to figure out how to market it with their limitations.
 

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They simply love building stuff but hate selling it. Which I understand very well but still, they're doing themselves a huge disservice not trying to figure out how to market it with their limitations.
Ah yes, okay I understand. That is really unfortunate, I guess it boils down to personal goals too!?!
 

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Ah yes, okay I understand. That is really unfortunate, I guess it boils down to personal goals too!?!

I think it almost exclusively comes down to limiting beliefs.

More philosophically, is an artist who creates art and never shares it with the world an artist? Similarly, is an entrepreneur who builds something but never shares it with potential clients an entrepreneur?
 
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I am 100% behind this. Someone already owns those customers. Figure out who, and get a deal done that allows you to access them.



Well, where do we set the bar Andy? The corner hairdresser is also doing just fine without building an audience, brand, community or anything of that kind. People just go there and cut their hair. Pay a few bucks. But they'll never be able to expand unless they do something differently, the owners will always work there, and so on. Is that our standard of just fine?

I see such businesses as lucky that they're still in business. The founders worked very hard, without much knowledge, and this was the best they could do - survive. But the business has a lot greater potential if they just applied smarter methods to grow it. There are many business owners out there who've ended up in that position due to circumstance, without much knowledge as to what makes a business tick. In fact, the VAST majority of business owners are in this case, they just own a job, which happens to be their business. At least for me, that's not a model worth following.

As marketers, it's our duty, the way I see it, to figure out what's good, and what's bad, and to differentiate in a way that someone who doesn't have our expertise simply cannot.

Also, MJ in my opinion isn't the example of someone who built things around product only. This forum, literarily a community, an audience, existed before the book. And I'm quite sure that this forum itself was instrumental in selling the book, to the point that, without this forum, it would have been much harder. I may be wrong about this, of course, but I know the initial buyers came from here, and in my honest opinion, the value people get by being members here is huge. Today the books and the forum work synergistically to provide that value.

And MJ did plenty of organic traffic generation for his lead gen business, as well as some paid methods from what I've read around. So hardly "product-only" there either.
I’m not saying product-led beats audience-led, just that audience-led isn’t the only way. I’m also specifically challenging the idea that we need to build an audience before building products or helping people.
 

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they're doing themselves a huge disservice not trying to figure out how to market it with their limitations.
Agreed. And they’re doing other people a disservice too by not solving their problems.

is an entrepreneur who builds something but never shares it with potential clients an entrepreneur?
Exactly. If you build a product that helps people but don’t help people with it, then does that product really help people? I’d say it doesn’t.
 

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This thread follows some shower thoughts I've been having recently - so rather than start a new thread ill post here :)

I disagree with the ideology of "Fail fast".

You could have an amazing service that transforms the lives of users. People really need it and you could get 1 million customers within a few months;
BUT, if you dont know how or where to market it, you may launch and mark it as a fail within a couple of months.

Not just that... You could be a master of driving traffic to your site, and your product could be the best thing since sliced bread - but if you can't translate the value into words and propositions that will convert your users, you're also sunk.

This is something I have faced several times in the past.
Thinking "I've launched" but in reality only have completed building and not knowing how to bring visibility and traffic to my service, or getting the traffic but using the wrong content to drive conversions..

I've always said that marketing is my weakness - I was aware of the fact - but didn't understand how to resolve it.
Now, with my latest business, marketing and "Where to launch" are at the forefront of every thought. Everything has an answer to "What is the value to the user, how do I share that from their perspective".

I don't plan to "Fail Fast", I plan to "Market Hard" and judge failure based of feedback.

Anyone have some thoughts, experiences or feedback on the above?
 
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This thread follows some shower thoughts I've been having recently - so rather than start a new thread ill post here :)

I disagree with the ideology of "Fail fast".

You could have an amazing service that transforms the lives of users. People really need it and you could get 1 million customers within a few months;
BUT, if you dont know how or where to market it, you may launch and mark it as a fail within a couple of months.

Not just that... You could be a master of driving traffic to your site, and your product could be the best thing since sliced bread - but if you can't translate the value into words and propositions that will convert your users, you're also sunk.

This is something I have faced several times in the past.
Thinking "I've launched" but in reality only have completed building and not knowing how to bring visibility and traffic to my service, or getting the traffic but using the wrong content to drive conversions..

I've always said that marketing is my weakness - I was aware of the fact - but didn't understand how to resolve it.
Now, with my latest business, marketing and "Where to launch" are at the forefront of every thought. Everything has an answer to "What is the value to the user, how do I share that from their perspective".

I don't plan to "Fail Fast", I plan to "Market Hard" and judge failure based of feedback.

Anyone have some thoughts, experiences or feedback on the above?
I’d rather fail fast than slow. That’s what that phrase means to me. Run a test, learn, iterate. The quicker the cycles the faster we learn.

I see marketing as simple as:
  1. Find out what people want to buy.
  2. Find out how to sell it to them, profitably.
  3. Do it.
No point having a great product if you can’t get people to buy it.
 

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I've always said that marketing is my weakness - I was aware of the fact - but didn't understand how to resolve it.
Now, with my latest business, marketing and "Where to launch" are at the forefront of every thought. Everything has an answer to "What is the value to the user, how do I share that from their perspective".

Marketing is my biggest weakness in business, too. Which is why I now start by identifying distribution channels first. Then, if there are sufficient EASY places to reach your target market, I figure out how the business may unfold over the years.

For my new newsletter, I first identified where I could find potential readers. Only when I made sure I can, given enough time, find at least a few thousand very engaged subscribers, I decided to take it more seriously.

There's no point in launching a business if you don't know how to easily acquire potential customers.
 

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