I decided to focus on starting a business in 2021. And I started by looking a several types of businesses to get sort of an overview of the landscape today, and to find out where some good opportunity may be. And there have been a lot of insights coming to me lately which I have been writing down in my diary. But I thought I might as well use my blog to write some of them down.
It’s more work to blog, however, because I have to pay more attention to grammar, readability and choice of words, so I will have to keep it short.
To begin let’s zoom out and start with the basics. There are two main tasks that need to be handled by entrepreneurs:
- Provide value
The first point is concerned with finding a gap between something someone wants to do and their ability to do so. There’s a gap which can consist of the actual ability to do something or the ability to do it better. I mean faster, cheaper, more effectively. The steps are:
- Identify the gap
- Device means to bridge the gap
There are a few ways to identify the gap. One way is to ask people, but the way we ask is important. For instance, some people will agree that there is a problem just to be polite. In other cases the gap is real but it’s not bad enough or happens not frequently enough that someone will actually pay for a solution. (A good way to find out is researching how they are bridging their gap so far.)
Another way is feeling the gap ourselves. This is known as “scratching your own itch”. If you are annoyed with the snow outside your house every winter, that’s an itch. Perhaps you then decide to invent a better snow shovel. After all, you will know what a good shovel looks like. That sort of thing.
Yet another interesting way I found was people looking at freelancing sites such as fiverr. And looking at demand for certain tasks. If there is a lot of demand for X, let’s say logo design, then it follows that there’s probably a market for logo design providers.
There are more ways, but to keep this post short I’ll stop here and move on to the next main point. Perhaps I’ll write more about finding gaps in a future post.
Ok so let’s say we have found a gap, now let’s move on to step 2: Device means to bridge the gap.
Here it becomes really a matter of skill. CAN we actually provide something useful? Can we build a tool? Can we write a blogpost? Can we connect two people that can help each other out? And so forth.
It really comes down to what we have now.
However, not having it yet is not a deal breaker. There is always the possibility to go out and obtain the needed knowledge or the neccesary tools. And this has probably never been easier than it is today.
Moving on, after we decided on our value proposition, on our solution for the gap or problem, we can build it. Or not even build it, but we can find out if it’s a good solution. If we have already built it (or a basic initial version, “the MVP”) we need to get it in front of possible customers to see if and how they use the solution. And if we haven’t we need to get in front of the customers and try to find out if they would buy it, if it existed, and if not, why not exactly, so that we can tweak our offering.
It’s basically the problem of getting an audience for what we have to offer. And it has always been a problem.
Let’s go back in time. Merchants (and philosophers?) in ancient times would stay in the market (and probably pay a fee for being allowed to do it), because that is where the customers were accustomed to go for their shopping. Jehova’s Witnesses today always stand in places like train stations, because they hope to capture a lot of the human traffic walking to and from the trains. They are all solving the distribution problem.
Online, the people are where? Well, they are on the big services we all know. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok… that’s where a massive amount of people go and that’s why these services can ask a fee from merchants (and philosophers) to set up shop there, so to speak. By posting an ad and getting in front of the eyes of the crowd.
There’s another way, of course. These services consist of all the of makers and hobbyists that post their content there. By positing our own content we can get views, qualified traffic (meaning people who are already interested in our subject), for free. So the two main ways of distribution are:
- Paying for someone else’s traffic
- Generating our own traffic
Of course both are not free. The first one costs money and the second one costs time, and one converts to the other. For instance, if you are employed, you could free up a lot of time by paying someone else to do your job. And you can make money by being a worker. (In the last two sentences yet another secret is hidden almost in plain sight.)
But.. actually, of course, I lied. There are more ways to get distribution. Very interesting ways. But I’ll skip them for now and write about them in some future blogpost. Or rather blogposts, plural, because there are so many.
The interesting thing about writing, blogging or journaling, for me is always that it’s surprising. I don’t know the end result of a post. I start to write and it kind of always writes itself.
Half an hour ago I was expecting to write something about the different kinds of businesses I have researched and some details on the ideas I’ve had but I ended up writing this thing about the very basics of business. Who knew!
There’s SO MUCH more to say about all this. I guess I’ll stop here however and write more later. I have a feeling that I have enough material for a book in my head. Some ideas include: Outcome inequality, keyword marketing (and actual numbers), where to put more effort: marketing or creating the product?, sales funnels, sales copy, cold calling and emailing, using social media to reach interesting people, building an audience on social media, stories of my own past successes, why learning from successes is key and learning from failures is not, surviving despite all the distractions, thoughts on local brick and mortar business, starting business as a software developer, waves in the market and riding them, surfing hype, how the patterns in the stock market map to actual patterns in business and life and the whole universality of it, pattern recognition and avoiding false patterns, how all this stuff is actually very simple in principle and why we like to make it complicated, on being a shovel during a gold rush, about fantastic websites and communities for founders, case studies of some great product launches, my own past product launches (including some nice hacks to get free distribution), stuff on mindset, the underrated insights and philosophies of Steve Zissou and The Big Lebowski, what we can learn about distribution from religions, perhaps specifically Jehova’s Witnesses, .. ah I could go on and no just listing ideas for posts. But I’ll stop now and instead go do my day job.
Thanks for reading, stranger on the Internet!