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Looking for feedback on my thoughts...

Discussion in 'Ideas, Needs, Concept Feedback' started by A1roller, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. A1roller
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    This is something I posted in another thread that I'd like a bit of feedback on please if anyone would be so kind to provide it:

    I think most of us who are new to business and have read TMF and unscripted understand that the only way to succeed in business is by adding value in some way, but understanding how to add value is really difficult.

    The advice that a lot of people will give is to do something you're already good at. If you work for a copywriting agency for example, it's likely that you have the framework in place to start your own copywriting agency. Or perhaps like @Joe Cassandra if you have experience in the finance industry, you are equipt to go into copywriting as an expert in the industry to help companies with their copywriting by adding value in a way that a generic copywriter cannot.

    The question is, what approach should someone who does not have this sort of experience take? There are a lot of young guys on this forum who likely have no specialised skills/knowledge to go on whatsoever.

    I work in customer services for a commodity company for example, where solving pain points in the industry is difficult due to the bland nature of the products being sold and the heavy regulation. I'm sure many are in the same situation though, doing a job where there is limited scope to develop a career and start to understand the industry and find problems that can be solved.

    The next logical step then would be to look at hobbies and see whether there are any opportunities to add value to industries where your hobbies lie. Again though, this all depends on what hobbies you have, and whether you think there are problems you can solve. Again I personally don't feel there are any problems I can solve within the industry of my hobbies, and I'm sure there are many like that also.

    I think this leaves many people in a position of being like a leaf in the wind, being blown from one idea to the next, because their desire to add value to an industry is not grounded in experience and understanding of that industry.

    I've been reading an interesting book lately called 'Opportunity identification and entrepreneurship' which is about studying why and how people become successful entrepreneurs. In the first chapter of the book, they reveal that the serial entrepreneurs they looked at (serial being defined as someone having more than one success, so as to weed out people who got lucky once. People who are clearly far removed from the average and achieve extraordinary results) found most of their opportunities in industries they were already working in.

    Finding a business idea for these ultra successful entrepreneurs was a process of using their domain specific knowledge to scan for problems and opportunities. The fact that they had domain specific knowledge allowed them to find pain points easier and put them in a more advantageous position than the average Joe, they leveraged their knowledge and this seems to make a big difference when finding opportunities. They found opportunities, because of their experience, that others could not see. They had an 'unfair advantage' so to speak.

    Everywhere I look now I seem to be seeing entrepreneurs who were successful after already having worked in the industry that their successful business was built in, rather than just jumping in blindly.

    With the above in mind, it seems difficult and unlikely for someone to go from 0-100 in an industry they have to prior knowledge or understanding of.

    So this leaves a lot of newbies in a predicament with two options:
    1) Do nothing, hope for the big blockbuster idea to come along
    2) Do something, feel unconfident and uncomfortable and solve needs poorly until your knowledge allows you to serve needs better

    Option two is the one that seems to be the way forward.

    It's daunting and difficult to just throw yourself into something, and that's why a lot of people (my self included) struggle I think.

    I am personally considering just starting on upwork with my limited skill set that I currently have for online marketing and just helping businesses, and then trying to focus on a specific niche to become known as the go-to guy for online marketing in that niche. My gut feeling is that this approach is overplayed, but I know that logically anyone can come along and take a piece of the market and that domain specific knowledge acquired may take you in a different, more lucrative direction anyway.

    Another suggestion that people seem to make is to just start flipping items. Again I can see how buying and selling fitness equipment (I seem to recall someone on here doing it with bicycles?) for example can naturally progress into an ecommerce store perhaps or gaining an understanding of what your core buyers want and how to launch a business to meet that need.

    Something interesting that I've witnessed recently is an instagram account which I follow about watches. The premise of the account is to post pictures of celebrities wearing watches and identify which watch it is that they're wearing. The owner had recently started posting instagram stories brokering second hand watch sales for luxury watches worth $xx,xxx. He has built an audience interested in these watches, and if he is successfully selling them I bet he is getting a great commission. This guy has probably identified an opportunity for people wanting to sell watches (maybe they're sick of paying high eBay fees) which he wouldn't have seen if he had not started. And he has already done the legwork of building an audience who are interested in what he is selling.

    I'm still not confident that what I am writing in this post is correct as it comes from a position of never having built a successful business, but I know that a lot of my anxiety and disappointment in myself comes from sitting on the sidelines and not having a business idea, but I feel like just jumping in and hustling might be the best way forward for people in my situation.

    So really what is on my mind now is doing one of the following:
    1) the upwork route - getting started by just solving needs for people, move into an industry I enjoy working in as I become more comfortable and then start to build a marketing agency perhaps around that industry and expand the services I can offer to meet clients needs
    2) Start buying and selling things on eBay or gumtree (the Craigslist of the UK), as I get more experience and knowledge start to specialise in certain items (luxury watches for example) and become the go to guy in that industry, then look to carry over the buying/selling knowledge to an ecommerce store for example
    3) I've read an article over at a website called gaps.com recently about building email newsletters and I've had a few good ideas from that, I've considered doing a location arbitrage on a company called theskimm who send short news updates via email to its paying subscribers
    4) just throw everything I can at ecommerce. I see tons of people who seem to be doing well on instagram, a company I really admire is Tayroc who sell watches in the U.K., I know for a fact they're raking it in based on their published financial data. They came out at a time where the watch niche was less saturated than it is now but still later than the likes of MVMT watches who were the first adopters to the whole instagram fashion brand thing, and from what I can see they don't seem to offer a different value proposition to its customers, makes me wonder whether it's possible to just launch a business in the space without trying to do something unique and grow it through sheer hard work.

    As you can see from above my thoughts are still kinda all over the place and I'm really not sure where to start, but I've coasted for years messing around without SEO getting nowhere, and a recent fuck this moment has really kicked me into gear and motivated me to just take life by the reigns and move forward with a business.
     
  2. Patrick R
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    Patrick R Shwizzle Shwazzle Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I want to comment on this one real quick. You seem to be where I was a while ago before I finally just decided on an idea and kicked my ass in gear. You've got a seemingly solid knowledge base just are stuck in the "idea dilemma."

    Everything can be improved upon. I'll say it again because I feel it is important. Everything can be improved upon.

    Don't just look at what things have problems that need fixing. Most things are fairly solid and don't necessarily have innate problems that need fixing. However that doesn't mean they can not be improved upon. It can be as simple as adding something to the product for free. Say you buy a wrench, but within two weeks that wrench's hinge has tightened up and is squeeking. Then you have to go by oil or lubricant for it. If instead of having to go shopping twice wouldn't it have been awesome if when you bought the wrench it came with a small tube of oil for the same price? Boom, you just created value.
     
  3. Joe Cassandra
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    Joe Cassandra Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Let me be absolutely, 100%, crystal clear so that anyone who reads this will take a bazooka to their excuses...

    1.) I was an accountant pushing pencils. Finance? Technically yes. I have ONE client (an accounting software company) who has me on a small retainer each month for some work. But, 90% of my revenue comes from financial companies who talk ZERO about accounting.

    2.) I never worked in an ad agency, on a copy team...I heard "You have no experience" 5 ZILLION times as I was starting. I got referred by a friend to a growing startup to write copy. I was going to work for $10/hour (plus stock options...whoopee) and I sent them 20 ideas on how to grow. They told me "Yeah, no thanks dude."

    3) My first clients were a tech startup, an events company, a VOIP service, and a social media software company.

    Why did they hire me?

    1) I provided value to them upfront and free
    2) I was freakin' confident when I talked to them...if a prospect senses you don't believe in yourself...it's over (especially in marketing where it's all 'educated guessing')

    I write copy in the financial space NOT because I was an accountant, but because stocks, options, all that jazz is a barrel of fun for me. For my wife, it's dull as dirt. For me, it makes me dance.

    ---------------
    THE POINT: You don't need experience. ZERO. I'm building an entire 'quit your job to write copy' course right now (Progress: Progress Thread - Building a Second Income Before the Second Kid) for the exact reason that people say:
    -Oh, I'm not a writer
    - Oh, I have no experience
    - Oh, I'll never get clients...there's too much competition in copywriting

    I graduated with an accounting degree. The BIG LIE is "You need a degree or an internship" to create value.

    Pick up a book. That's what I did. Then pick up another.
     
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  4. Scot
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    Scot Ductus Exemplo Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I stopped reading about halfway through, no offense intended but I was short on time and wanted to hammer out a response.

    Stop approaching a business like skilled labor. I think that is your biggest misconception right there.

    We are surrounded by stories of start ups like Facebook where programmers build billion dollar empires. But people forget Bill Gates wasn't a programmer.

    So let me say this one more time for people in the back.

    You do not need to be skilled to start a successful business.

    Know what my business is? Food brand. Am I a chef? Nope. Am I a branding expert? Nope. I hired a chef. And I'm learning marketing.

    Instead of focusing on what you can do well, what your skills are, or what your hobbies are, try this.

    Buy a notebook and take two solid weeks. Write down every inconvenience, speedbump, roadblock, problem, pain point, or product or service you wish you had that you encounter over these two weeks. Ask your friends, your family, your coworkers, complete strangers at the grocery store.

    Write all of them down. At some point, there is going to be a moment where a lightbulb goes off and you say "Why isn't anyone doing this?"

    That's your moment. That's your idea. Figure it out.

    I forget which superrich start at founder's quote this is but it goes something like "starting a business is like jumping off a cliff and building an airplane on the way down."

    Find a problem. Fix the problem. Figure it out. Just do something.
     
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  5. Ika
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    Ika Too slow Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    @Joe Cassandra is 100% right.

    I've struggled with this for a long time.

    There are 2 problems:
    1. Get a skill to add value
    2. Get comfortable in your skill-level

    1. Learn a skill you can use to add value.

    How do people become good at a skill? They learn it.
    There are different ways to learn. Just because you don't have access to one (e.g. a job) doesn't mean you can't use others (reading, courses, doing).
    'Experts' had to put in time to learn a skill. And so will you.

    Decide on one skill that suits you.
    To make it easier, choose one people are already paying for. You can re-invent the wheel once you are up and running.

    And then learn it.
    In the best case, learn the skill by taking on your first paying client.
    If your skill is not that good yet, take on the client for free.
    If it is not good enough to persuade a potential client, create the value without the client knowing and then send it to him for free.
    If your skill is not good enough for this either, create value for a nonexisting, hypothetical client.

    The first 3 websites I've built were for made up businesses because my skills were not good enough yet.


    2. Get comfortable with your skill and your ability to add value

    When starting out I had quite a black and white thinking about "experts": Either you are an expert and know everything, or you are not an expert and know nothing.
    But in reality, beeing an expert is subjective.
    You don't need to know everything. You just need to know more than your client.

    Even if you don't know how to structure a website, create a good User experience or draw attention to a call to action - if your potential client still has a website from 1998, you can add massive value simply by rebuilding the website with the current technological standard.

    I'm not good with words, @Andy Black can put these things better than I do.
    Just read through his signature and his posts on starting and beeing an expert. "You already know enough" "Just start" "You don't have to be an expert" are titles you should look for.
    Or you can go to my profile and sort my posts by date - most of my early ones had to do with my struggles on both topics.


    Whatever you choose to do, stick to it. Set youself one goal and don't change your method until you get there!
    Maybe 2000/month.

    Because whatever you do, there will be a time where your method sucks. Some people call it the "pit of despair".
    It oftentimes happens after your initial motivation turned off, and right before getting the first sale. You are 99% done.

    Just know you will find yourself in this pit with everything you do. It is really tempting to quit in this situation - during that phase every other method looks so much better. (Shiny Object syndrom).
    @AndrewNC explains it in his newest thread about 'finding a business idea' and uses the great analogy of building a sandcastle.


    I hope I could help you with any of this rambling!
     
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  6. tiagosoares17.22
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    Yap, as everyone here said, you don't need to know a lot about an industry to get started. But for sure, to be successful on it you need to keep learning and improving.

    So, you just gotta pick something and follow through. Now, if you want to increase the chances of sticking to that idea that you initially started to pursuit, understand WHY you are starting that business/freelancing in the first place.

    Knowing the real reasons of why you want to have your own business, why you think you would enjoy one, why picking this one over the other might make you stick to it longer, and many other WHY questions, are very important.

    For you to get some knowledge and be inspired I would recommend you to listen to one podcast called How I Built This from NPR. There you will see a lot of successful entrepreneurs talking about how they started their businesses, why, how they ended up successful, etc.

    It's not hard as you think, but not easy as I am making it look like.
     
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  7. A1roller
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    Thanks for the reply Patrick. You make a good point and I must admit that I am guilty of looking for problems instead of improvements that I can make to products.
     
  8. A1roller
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    Thanks for the reply Joe, I hope my post didn't come across as diminishing towards what you've achieved in any way as I find your posts inspiring. I guess you took the path of just getting started with copywriting and then from your experience choosing a niche to specialise in. It's a path I am considering taking myself.
     
  9. A1roller
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    Thanks for your thoughts Scot, no offense taken that you didn't read the whole thing, it was a long post admittedly!

    It's not that I'm approaching business like a skilled labourer, I am more than happy to learn something brand new and I have skills now that I would not have even heard of 5 years ago. Allow me to flesh out my point further on starting a business based on a skill you already have.

    Say for I work for a fashion company that sells watches. I notice that many of the customers of the company ask for watches with blue wristbands, which the company I work for does not sell. Having learned that there is a demand for the product during my day job, and knowing the industry very well I know that none of the competitors produce a watch with a blue wristband either. I start a busine selling watches with blue wristbands and make a lot of money.

    Is it possible for a random person off the street to notice that there are no watches with blue wristbands and create a product? Of course. The random person off the street however, doesn't have the reference experience in their mind though of being asked over and over if they sell watches with a blue wristband (therefore validating the demand before starting the business) and is essentially going in blind with a hit and hope mentality to a degree.

    Now, if you've done your research you can likely minimise the risk of being the random guy on the street starting a business with no prior experience, but the book I am reading seems to suggest that the serial entrepreneurs they interviewed all started businesses because they recognised gaps in the market through their day to day work, they acquired knowledge of a supply/demand issue not available to other people.

    Hope that makes sense :) I have tried the exercise of writing down problems, inconveniences etc. but I never seem to come up with anything.
     
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  10. A1roller
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    I think you make a good point on just sticking to something, and I think if I am able to get over this issue I am having where I cannot place any confidence in 'business ideas' it will really help me commit.
     
  11. A1roller
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    That podcast has been on my list to listen to for a while now, if I remember correctly they did an episode on airBNB? That caught my eye.

    I agree that it definitely isn't as hard as I think it is. I have a terrible tendency to overthink things and think negatively a little which keeps me from starting on anything.
     
  12. tiagosoares17.22
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    Yes, they did.

    All of the episodes are basically from big successes. And one thing you will find in those interviews is that a lot of them started in an industry they didn't know much, if anything at all (some of them). But that doesn't mean you don't need other skills or traits. One trait you will find in all of them is grit.
     
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  13. A1roller
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    Ok so I've been thinking a little more about what you said yesterday about the fact that adding value to a customers life is not necessarily always addressing a major pain point in any way, but about improving what is already out there. It might seem silly as this seems like an obvious thing to know, but I feel like this has definitely created a paradigm shit within me and I am looking at opportunities in new and more creative ways so thank you for your post.

    Anyway, I've been doing some research on the fashion watch industry today to get a better idea of the dynamics in the industry. Here are a few of the companies I looked at and a few notes about them

    - MVMT - Tired of big brand markups and the outdated retail model - early adopters, quite a distinctive style
    - Paul Hewitt - Minimalist and focused on quality, higher price point than others
    - Kapten and Son - Mesh wristband
    - Vincero Collective - Started because they were tired of the cookie cutter designs and mass produced minimalist watches that have flooded the market - focused on quality
    - Tayroc - Low price point
    - Daniel Wellington - Minimalist again, nato strap focused although offers other options
    - Circulr - Minimalist again, lower price point

    I found that a lot of these manufacturers were offering products that were very similar to each other and a lot of the same rehashed value propositions. Most were fairly low price and minimalist and only some seemed to have really unique characteristics.

    I initially thought that I had found that the companies who got in first seem to be the most established in the industry MVMT, DW, Tayroc (although Vincero Collective was a company started before these and they don't have as big of a following), whereas some of the newer companies like Circulr seem to have way less of a following. However this isn't always the case, there are some watch companies on instagram that have less of a following despite being older.

    I get the feeling that the early adopters had first movers advantage, but it is possible to definitely get into the industry and succeed if you're able to build a product that people like. I've spent a lot of time looking at specific qualities that add value (minimalist, type of strap etc.) when in reality perhaps I am neglecting the fact that the fashion industry is just about aesthetic appeal overall? If I could bring a product to market in this industry that was well designed and appealing but did not have any specific features that are unique, it is still value adding, right?

    I don't know where or how these companies get their watches designed, but I guess that maybe the ones that don't succeed are the ones that are branding products that are already available on the lines of Alibaba etc., whereas some of the others may go direct to manufacturers with concept drawings?

    i guess going for a very generic product and trying to make it succeed is made more difficult with the fierce competition and would require a large marketing budget to overcome hurdles of adoption.
     
  14. Iammelissamoore
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    Iammelissamoore Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I think often times in trying to excel, we get complicated with how or where we should begin in business. One of the greatest challenges I had was doing something I knew 100% about, or at least trying to learn 100% prior to getting things done, and while it is great to at least understand the basics of what we're getting involved in so we can get it started, I often kept myself behind from actually executing, because I believed I had to be perfect in order to begin.

    As we look at companies which have advanced, we're seeing that it isn't necessary to know every-single-detail about an industry; it is important, however, to recognise there is a need for something, or a need for improvement and work on creating it and sharing it amongst the market.

    When we look at articles with companies like AirBnB, Uber, Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba and a lot of other similar companies which pretty much built empires without having much knowledge of the particular industry, we see it is possible to build successful entities, because, though these companies were built without an actual "tangible" product which they manufactured, it still offered solutions and filled needs that easily became a necessity.

    That being said, this isn't specifically the only route we can go, there are many opportunities to either invent new products/services, improve current and existing products/services or simply revamp a totally old concept by also improving it, but bringing it into our modern day with a refreshed option to solve whichever problem it is geared to.

    There is a major thing which stood out in Unscripted for me - MJ mentioned that it is absolutely important to switch our mindsets from that of consumerism to producerism and that, simple as it may sound, not only allows us to begin seeing productocracy opportunities in everything, but it starts putting our minds into the work stage of taking that idea and fine-tuning it for execution - should we pursue it.

    Also, another thing that really can hold us back is lack of belief in ourselves; I have a friend who came up with an excellent idea for the improvement of an existing product, he actually came up with the idea from use of that product by his family member, he told me about the idea which I found was fabulous, when we began looking at what the next couple of steps would be to take it from idea to prototyping and bringing it to the market, he found it was going to be too much work that he possibly didn't qualify himself for- need I say that the vast majority of "work" would have been outsourced to his manufacturer - the rest would have been for him to push the completed product. The sad thing is we often recognise the process involved in taking something from idea to execution in the market and just because we see it as too many steps, we allow the process to scare us, then 2, 5 or 10 years down the line, we see someone else in a totally different part of the world execute the same idea we had and they enjoy their success and glory while we are held back by all the 'what if' scenarios clouding our heads.

    I've recognised there is ALWAYS room for improvement. No matter how saturated an industry is or how sophisticated, huge or untouchable a product, service or company may seem, there will always be some important detail they are missing that another company would be able to offer.
     
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  15. A1roller
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    I feel like this thread is beginning to be an experiment in thought for me, hopefully rather than being mental masturbation, it is going to be something that can help me launch a business.

    I have no issues with work ethic and I think I have the hustle to succeed, but really understanding this issue that had held me back for a few years I feel, will be something that will help me finally move forward.

    I guess this is becoming a bit of a case study into the fashion watch industry?

    I've spent a bit of further time delving into what factors can be manipulated if I was to bring a watch product to market:
    Strap, watch movement/mechanism, bezel, watch face, watch hands, colour material, price, bundled options.

    There seems to be so much to manipulate when it comes to creating the finished product, and different combinations of each of these characteristics tend to align with a different style of watch - smart, casual, stylish, vibrant etc

    Ive been looking at more and more watch companies on instagram and it seems like they are all very bland in terms of colour. Now this may be because there is no demand for other colours, or perhaps they are missing a trick.

    I've come up with a few ideas for colour combinations which have also spurred on ideas for different textures and styles. I have some general ideas in mind for a few watch products which I think are very different from the offerings currently out there.

    I hope I am thinking along the right lines for building a successful business?

    I guess the next stage is to do some more thorough research on my competition, and perhaps understand how these companies bring their ideas to market in terms of manufacturing etc.

    Will I launch a watch company eventually? I don't know. I'm open to the idea, but I'm very interested in understand this process of going from having no ideas to a product and am hoping that documenting my thought process and getting ongoing feedback (some of which in this thread has been incredibly valuable). If I don't launch a watch company I am gaining a better understanding of this whole process, which I can apply to other products/markets.

    Looking at some of the smaller companies on instagram that obviously have a small following and aren't doing too well would usually make me feel put off from pursuing the niche further and push me back into the cycle of not having an idea and going back to trying to make SEO work, im hoping I can break that thought cycle.
     
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