OK, let’s roll up our sleeves. Two days ago, I wrote one of my favorite posts of all time: Win Win Win.
And since starting this series on 2015 being the year of MORE, I’ve gotten thousands of emails about how inspired you are.
I suddenly realized what life coaches must feel like. When you talk about getting more, you get emails with words like “motivated,” “inspired,” and “spirit.”
Um…I trust inspiration about as far as I can throw it. Anyone can talk about how “motivated” they are. It’s another thing to take action. This is where you separate yourself from the other dreamers. Today, I’m going to show you how.
Here is a recent sales report from my business just a few days ago.
That’s $11,000 in a day.
Or to put it in terms of MORE, that’s a personal chef, flight tickets for my parents, and a personal trainer to help me look great and feel amazing.
What would it be for you? A round of drinks for your friends without worrying? A sparkling clean house on Sunday evening to start the week off? Not having to commute to a job you don’t love?
How do you get there? What about even just getting $11,000 a MONTH from an online business? Or even $1,000?
When I started building my online business, I had no idea where to start. Like you, I read a few random business blogs, and each had some angle I “absolutely needed” to do: Learn copywriting, email marketing, pricing, productization, SEO, SEM, social media, upsells, segmentation, process mapping, ideation, A/B testing, and on and on.
We need one thing to start with: THE IDEA.
And in fact, that’s exactly where we all tend to get stuck:
I happen to know a little bit about finding ideas for online businesses. I HAD to learn this, because I wanted to avoid being a one-hit wonder. I wanted to build a system, a process, for generating ideas, filtering through the bad ones, and finding GREAT business ideas that were fun, impactful, and profitable.
As a result, I’ve rolled out over 15 successful products. That is not an accident.
GOOD: Learning how to find an idea for your online business and being able to replicate it
NOT SO GOOD: Milli Vanilli one-hit wonders who come up with one idea and milk it for 20 years
REALLY BAD: Getting paralyzed by not knowing how to pick an idea at all
My assessment is that most of you are in the REALLY BAD category. ‘Oh, I don’t have an idea…therefore I’m going to sit around for years and wait for the idea to magically fall from the sky! That will do it!’
No. We do not want to be that old dude who looks back with a mouthful of broken teeth and mumbles,
“I wish I’d found an idea and started my own business…my life coulda really been different.” (Sucks on a piece of hay and turns to you.) “You should follow your passion, boy. That’s all there is in this world.”
WRONG IN SO MANY WAYS.
Ideas don’t just get rained on you from the heavens. When people say, “I don’t have an idea,” what they’re really saying is, “I have taken zero action to learn the process of generating, filtering, and identifying a profitable idea.” IT IS A PROCESS YOU CAN LEARN, PEOPLE.
Also wrong: “You should follow your passion.” Most people do the exact same thing with their passions: Wait around, as if they’re just going to magically discover it some day. Don’t you think after 30 or 40 years, you would have found it already? The truth is this: You find your passion by (1) getting really good at something, and then (2) you become passionate about it. That is a totally different way of looking at passion — and it works.
Today, we take the first step. I’ll teach you the entire system of starting a successful online business, but today — let’s start together.
Finding an idea for your online business
Let’s have some fun.
I’m going to show you a few examples of real online businesses and get your opinions on them. Then I’ll show you how to apply them to finding your own business idea.
Below, look at these two different businesses and tell me what the major difference is between them. You can scroll down for my thoughts, but I encourage you to work on it yourself first!
#1: Fitness businesses
What do you notice about the two? Go beyond the obvious. Write your answer down before continuing.
#2: Stationery businesses
I love stationery. What? Don’t judge.
Take a look at these two businesses and tell me the differences that you notice.
Write your answer down before you scroll down.
#3: Personal finance books
What are the non-obvious differences?
Write it down!
Now, for my thoughts…
What makes a good idea? Key insights about these examples
Let’s start with the fitness example:
One is targeted to men, the other women. What else do you notice? If you get stuck, use this for a hint.
Not only are they targeting different audiences, every single aspect is customized for the audience. For example, they use different language, different goals (generically, men want to build muscle, women want to get lean). The two companies are serving radically different markets. And it’s not just “marketing” — the actual product is different.
Many people make their business ideas so generic — like “nutrition tips” — that they’ll appeal to nobody. When you get hyper-focused, you speak to your market so clearly, they can’t ignore you.
KEY TAKEAWAY: It’s good to focus. Don’t try to be everything to everyone.
The obvious answer is that one is high-end, classy, very expensive, and custom. The other is cute and affordable (some would say “cheap”).
Notice that one isn’t better than the other — they’re serving completely different markets.
The mom who buys LoveIt! stationery isn’t going to buy custom party invitations from Bernard Maisner.
If you apply this idea to our nutrition example, you could build a business around a low-end offer — like cheap meal plans — or go the high-end route, like custom nutrition guidance for busy executives.
Interestingly, don’t assume that high-end means more profitable. Think of McDonald’s!
KEY TAKEAWAY: You can choose whether your idea is focused on affordable vs. luxury. You set the price based on the market!
#3: Personal finance books
Ok, this one is good because it involves me.
If I hear from another god damn reader who says, “But I can’t do that…there are already too many other companies doing it! Why would anyone listen to me?” I’m just going to send them a huge picture of me holding my New York Times best-selling book with a gigantic middle finger up.
DO YOU SEE WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?
There are literally thousands of books on personal finance. Most of them came before mine. Yet my book still became an instant bestseller and sold out on day 1. Why?
Because of what we talked about above.
The market is different! First, the age of the people you’re serving is another way to focus your business idea: Dave Ramsey is talking to Baby Boomers. My book is aimed primarily at millennials. Do other people read our books? Yes, of course. But they’re successful because they focus on specific groups with specific needs.
More importantly, you don’t have to be the first to be successful. I was sucking on a pacifier when Dave Ramsey started talking about money. But my approach (and my market) is different, and my material works.
Put it another way: Just because someone is already there doesn’t mean you can’t play. When you were a kid and someone was on the playground, did you just look at them and turn around and leave? NO!
In fact, if there are other people doing what you want to do, that is a GOOD SIGN. It means there’s a market. Your challenge is to refine your idea to make it different and better, which I’ll show you how to do.
Here are some other ways to vary your idea:
- Fast vs. slow (think P90x vs. T25)
- Location (think local mom-and-pop package service vs. FedEx)
- What else can you think of? I have a list of over 20 differentiators
Now it’s your turn
Do you see how you can take a common idea like fitness or stationery and change it from a generic idea into a focused, profitable one?
This is the fun part of finding an idea. It’s not drudgery and it’s not waiting for the perfect idea to fall from the sky. It’s a systematic way of looking at the world and taking your unique skills, experiences, and knowledge…and turning it into a successful online business.
I’m just scratching the surface here, but I wanted to show you how this is a PROCESS that you can learn.
In just this post alone, we learned how you can take an idea and focus it based on who you’re selling to, how much they earn, how old they are, what they care about, and how much experience they have. And that’s just a fraction of the number of ways you can focus your idea.
We’ve done it for over 15 successful products, and I’ve helped tons of my students do it in over 30 industries. I want to help you, too.
Now, a challenge for you
First, pick a business idea. You’re not marrying this idea, so don’t freak out if you’re not sure. We’re just practicing the process of developing business ideas.
If you’re not sure, pick a passion you have. Teaching people how organize their homes, how to train your dog, whatever! No idea is a bad idea at this stage.
Next, think of at least 3 ways you can narrow down that idea.
Example 1: Dating advice…for men…who are high-powered executives…and want a long-term relationship.
Example 2: Interior decorating…for women…with kids…who are into feng shui.
Share your ideas below. Remember to incorporate what you learned above!