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Side Hustle as Customer Research

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Bronze Contributor
Oct 27, 2018
Hi, I'm currently using my side hustle to research the needs of my customers and to figure out how to build a product from there. My question is: how do I test my product ideas without destroying my side hustle or being consumed by it?

Some background info:
- I'm 40, a software guy, worked as consultant & project manager for the past 10 years
- my side hustle is 1 day of consulting / week. the other 6 days, I'm working on my fastlane
- currently, I have 2 clients. they bring in enough to pay the bills. around 1.5-2.5K / month
- I have around 80K in savings, my wife is contributing with 2.5K / month
- so total house income 4-5K / month.
- we're doing "good" but actually, we're between the sidewalk and the slowlane

The problem space / needs:
- 90% of internal trainings and workshops in companies is total BS
- over 70% of companies hire external "coaches" to train their people
- HR need: a scalable mix of self-education and offline events
- employee need: a way to learn what they need while still doing their work

The current product in development:
- workshop & training material including a series of step-by-step guides to teach employees at a company to become coaches to teach their colleagues.
- think of it as the "game master's guide" and the "player handbook" in roleplaying games. but for business. so it's an information product with training content & an app / website as distribution medium.
- current dev costs: content 0€, software dev 0€, marketing 0€ (all me). design will be 1-2K / month (freelancers) once I validate the need & have an initial version that I can sell.
- current tests: I'm appearing as a speaker at 2 conferences & an hr recruiting company to run through the product for them & train them for free in return for their feedback

My problem:
- I'm consulting my 2 current clients on how to build a training space & processes in their corporate academies. I'd love to test the product with them, BUT:
-- worried that they'll see it as part of the consulting gig & try to own the product
-- worried that they'll see it as a way to push stuff on them & dissolve the consulting contract (so I'd lose my side hustle to keep the lights on)

Currently, my sense is to keep my mouth shut and just keep working with them for research purposes. I'd just launch & try getting customers elsewhere, to avoid mixing side hustle and product. What do you think? Also, is there a good thread on b2b lead generation here / a book you could recommend?
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Bronze Contributor
Oct 27, 2018
*** update ***
1) clients generated around 10K revenue. spending around 7K of it for the business. rest goes into tax.
2) both *might* generate another 30-50K next year that can go into growing the business
3) partnered up with another consultancy so they can sell 1-2 days of my time if and when I should need it in case any client backs out or the contract ends (plan b)
4) giving the product ideas i'm testing to current clients as a free add on to the consulting, solves ownership
5) sat down with clients & let them know what I'm doing, preventing any future misunderstandings

so far, so good. my initial sense was off (anxiety? not sure). i decided to just be open and direct about it. if they like it, great. if it's a problem, so be it.

as to b2b leads - i decided on going b2c first, to build an audience and a brand. i'll go b2b after that if it makes sense. had to change model & product to do that.


my side hustle is 1 day of consulting / week. the other 6 days, I'm working on my fastlane
- currently, I have 2 clients. they bring in enough to pay the bills. around 1.5-2.5K / month
Let's say someone would like to start a consulting business, do you have any tips for them? Cheers : )

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