You’re an entrepreneur ready to challenge the status quo.
The founder of a startup that wants to change the world.
Or maybe even a small business owner looking to do things a little different.
And the only thing that you can seem to focus on is trying to figure out how to turn your idea into a successful business. A thriving and profitable one.
After all, no matter how good your idea is – if you can’t make any money then there’s no way that you would be able to keep doing more of what you love to do. That’s just how this game works.
Money is an issue that very few of us like to talk about, but at the end of the day passion and drive aren’t the ones paying the bills.
Which means that it should be way more important to you than we’d like it to be. The entire world sees you as a brave soldier on a mission to disrupt popular opinion and to prove to the world that the path less chosen can be a fruitful one.
A better one.
But that’s not the whole truth now, is it?
Being an entrepreneur is hard.
It’s the hardest thing you will ever have to do.
Every roadblock makes you second guess the path you’re on.
Every downfall seems like a ton of bricks has buried you deep into the ground.
And late into the night when the world has gone to sleep, ready to wake up to a life of corporate politics and a routinely set day job, the doubts start to creep in.
What if you were wrong?
What if your idea is just not good enough?
What if you run out of money too early?
What if you don’t have what it takes?
What if ?
Building It Is Not Enough
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most talented people out there – helping them turn their ideas into a successful business.
From tech startups to apparel companies and iPhone apps – I’ve been able to work on a wide range of projects. And as different as these ideas might seem, I’ve come to realise that every single entrepreneur that is starting out has two main things in common.
First, they all believe that their product is going to be the next big thing.
Second, they underestimate how difficult it will be to get people to use their product. In any business or startup, the process is fairly simple.
You come up with a good idea and then you build it.
It’s that simple.
Or if you offer a service, you throw up a portfolio website and expect the world to come knocking at your door begging you to work for them.
But what I’ve seen is that most entrepreneurs fail to understand that developing and building your product is actually the easy part. Because quite frankly, anyone with half a brain can spend a couple months of their time to build the exact same thing.
The hard part when it comes to making progress is making the sale.
Whether you’re trying to get them to sign up for your app, buy your latest t-shirt or to join your fabulous newsletter – the biggest hurdle is getting people to take action. It doesn’t take a genius to build something, it takes one to sell it. And this is the foundation of what I will talk about, because honestly, i’m tired of seeing so many people not living up to their fullest potential.
You’ll Never Know Until You Try
I wish I had an easy answer on how to turn your idea into a successful business.
I wish I could say that all you have to do is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. But the truth is that I just can’t – no matter how tempting it might sound.
Not because it’s impossible (many people in a worse situation than you have done it), but simply because there are too many variables that need to be taken into account. And what might work for you, might not work for someone else.
What I can do, though – is to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt from working with successful people who were able to turn their ideas into real businesses. The best thing about this game is that there is absolutely no barrier to entry when it comes to doing business. Anyone can try their hand at making magic happen.
And regardless of what anyone tells you – you don’t have to speak a certain way, be from a certain place or live in one of the world’s capital cities.
I’ve seen remarkable individuals come from absolutely nothing to dominating at their industry with startup capital of less than a few hundred bucks.
And on the other hand, I’ve seen wealthy people with years of experience to their name fail miserably at their attempt to try and make something happen.
And that’s what I love the most about doing business.
Everyone has a chance at being successful.
Let’s Talk Business
Remember when I said that creating your product was the easy part?
Well, I wasn’t lying.
We are now living in a world where talent is in abundance from all corners of the world and outsourcing your product in China takes less than a few clicks.
The problem is no longer about creation, but rather – on selling.
Marketing yourself and your products in a way that provides real value to your ideal customer is the key to getting noticed to the people you are trying to reach. The mass market no longer exists – and unless you invent a way to cure cancer or provide free food, water or housing to people you’re better off finding your niche. This is the type of genius we need to aspire to.
A cool idea is only a cool idea if it can make money.
We need to be more aware of the psychological barriers that keep others from making a purchase. Or better yet, more understanding towards what would inspire them to buy.
And if you’d like to learn about some of the lessons I’ve come across in terms of turning your idea into a profitable business, then keep on reading.
Some of these ideas might work well for your business, others not s0 much. The key is in understanding your business enough to know what approach you need to take.
The More You Tell, The More You Sell
Here we go.
A – You Need To Find A Starving Crowd
In the late 80’s a marketer by the name of Gary Halbert was with a group of students. He asked them a very simple question.
If you were the owner of a burger stand, and you could have one main advantage over the competition (and it could be anything you desire) – what would it be? Everyone had a different answer.
Some of his students said that they would get a prime location in town, others said that they would make sure that they had the highest quality beef.
But he wasn’t impressed.
Because at the end of the day, he knew that none of that really matters.
His answer was simple.
If he could have one advantage, it would be a starving crowd.
And that is what it all comes down to.
Forget about a fancy location, or the highest quality meat in town – without a starving crowd you’ll struggle to even get by. But by having a starving crowd, you are almost guaranteed to sell more burgers than anyone else out there.
No one will pay you (especially since we live in a world where there are so many options out there) unless it is something that they desire more than anything else. It needs to be the type of thing that consumes their thoughts and desires every minute of every single day.
These are the type of people who would buy your thing.
So lets say that you wanted to start a business that sells cosmetics, right?
The first question you would need to ask yourself is if there is a group of people out there who have already bought and love to buy these types of products? Who is your starving crowd?
Perhaps it would be people with unsolvable acne problems.
Or maybe even folk with sensitive skin.
Find these people (your starving crowd), tailor your marketing towards their biggest problems and you’ll find that it’s much easier to make a sale than trying to reach everyone out there – which brings me to my next point.
B – You Need To Target A Specific Type Of People
The biggest problem I’ve seen in business is that entrepreneurs are greedy.
Whenever I ask my clients the question ‘Who are you targeting?’.
I almost always get the same answer.
And this is a huge mistake!
Simply because by trying to target ‘everyone’ you’ll end up reaching no one.
The mass market has died, and unless you have a few million dollars in order to try and reach the masses – you’ll most likely end up failing.
And depending on your thing to go viral is a bad strategy altogether (it won’t happen). Instead it’s better to try and reach a small group of people with a specific interest. So the challenge here comes down to three things:
1 – Knowing exactly who your ideal customer is.
2 – Knowing exactly how you can reach them.
3 – Creating a product that reflects their interest.
For example, if you make websites for a living – instead of trying to target everyone who needs a website, it would make more sense to target a very specific type of people.
Becoming known as the person who designs websites for Yoga professionals would give you an extreme leverage over the competition.
Sure, you’ll be given a smaller piece of the pie.
But a lot of something small, is better than nothing of something big.
And you’ll become known as ‘the guy’ to go to if anyone in the yoga business needs a website or a similar type of service (and yes, they all need websites).
Add to this that by targeting only yoga professionals you’ll know exactly how to reach them, you’ll know how to market to them and you’ll be more equipped to build a group of loyal followers who look forward to hearing from you.
Of course, you can eventually expand to different types of people who have different interests and gradually grow your network – but you should only do it one at a time.
C – You Need To Build A Community
Building a community is very similar to finding a specific type of people based on an interest – but there is one very big difference.
In building a community you need to be the one who leads the charge in a movement that is set to bring together a group of people who have the same interest.
There are many ways to do this (creating a blog or Facebook group around a specific topic are great ways) – and the advantages of doing do are way too good to miss out on.
When you’re planning to launch a product or service for the first time, the truth is that no one out there really knows about you – and that really sucks.
Sure, you can tell your family and friends – but unless they have powerful networks with thousands of people who might be interested in what you have to offer, then you’ll be unlikely to make any significant income from them.
There’s no doubt that you can ask relevant blogs and influencers to talk about you, but putting the fate of your company in the hands of a few who might or might not do what you ask is not the ideal situation to be in.
But if you already put in the work and effort necessary to build a small community of people based around their interest – then you can start by selling your product to them. So let’s say that you were on a mission to create the worlds greatest recipe book.
By creating a blog or newsletter that provides value once a week by giving away unique recipes – you’ll start to build a community of people who love to hear from you.
And once you’ve grown your community to a decent size (let’s say 10,000) and your book is ready, you can simply let them know that they can buy it.
What’s more, since you’ve been giving them so much value upfront before ever asking for a sale – they would be much more inclined to buy from you since you’ve already established a relationship that is mostly based on trust.
Sure, not everyone will buy your book in this particular situation – but a conversion rate of 10% – 20% of 10,000 people is pretty decent.
Compare this with launching your recipe book to your family friends.
Big difference, right?
D – You Need To Give It Away For Free
No one likes to spend money, especially if it’s not something they need.
And because of this, a great way to get people to buy your thing is to give it away for free at first – and then to slowly reel them into making a purchase.
If you’ve got a great product, then getting people to buy shouldn’t be too difficult. I remember visiting one of the food courts in Camden when I lived in London. Needless to say, there must have been at least twenty different food stalls. The thing is, there was only one woman who was giving away free food.
And even though I didn’t want to try some of what she had to offer (because I didn’t know how good it was) – she just kept on insisting.
Finally, I caved in and decided to try some of her turkish food.
After all, it was free.
And the next thing you know, I became a buying customer.
In fact, since it was really good – I bought twice as much as I thought I would.
If she had never given me the free sample, I would have never known just how delicious her food was – and I wouldn’t have been a customer.
So if you’re a business consultant, give away a free session and show your potential clients just how good you are and how much value you can add to their business. If you run a personal finance software company?
Offer a 7 day free trial and let the world know that your software really can save them more money each month. If you have a great product, this strategy would help you make a ton of sales.
E – You Need To Be Passionate About Why You Do What You Do
Truth be told, I don’t like it when people talk about being passionate.
The reason is because most people tend to believe that in order to succeed all you have to do is find the thing you are passionate about and everything will be ok. But that’s not how it works. Passion doesn’t pay the bills, and passion alone won’t make your business successful.
I’m a firm believer in the fact that being the best at what you do as well as being authentic while doing it are way more important traits you need to dominate. I also believe that being passionate about why you do what you do is infinitely more important that just finding the thing you are passionate about.
Let me explain.
In finding your passion the process is very simple.
You find something you love to do (let’s say writing) and then you do it.
Of course, finding something you have a passion for is a wonderful thing and it would definitely make your journey easier – but it won’t necessarily make you successful. When you are passionate about why you do what you do, this means that you are driven by a greater purpose – a belief that you believe in so deeply that you would be willing to do whatever it takes to make it come to fruition. This type of passion is contagious.
And instead of just being passionate about writing, you’ll find yourself passionate about a greater purpose (let’s say fighting discrimination) and you’ll be able to use your love for writing as a way to build the foundation of your business.
A few questions you should ask yourself is why are you passionate about what you do? And then, what tools can you use to get the word out and leave your mark in the world? How can you turn this into a real business? Does that really matter?
As an example, Steve Jobs wasn’t necessarily passionate about one particular thing. He wasn’t known to be a computer nerd or a man who was passionate about code. Instead, Steve Jobs was passionate about creating a world in which anyone can create that in which they envision – a world where everyone has a level playing field in terms of their creative endeavour… from music to filmmaking to entrepreneurship.
He was passionate about why he did what he did.
He had a purpose that meant more than just computers, and that is what allowed him to keep on fighting strong even during times of distress and turmoil. So instead of thinking of passion as a way to find the thing that you love to do, we need to be able to harvest our passion for a thing in such a way that it drives us to challenge the status quo and strive for serving a greater purpose. It’ll make all the difference.
So Where Do You Go From Here?
If you’re anything like me, then you’ve tried your hand at entrepreneurship countless times but failed to make any significant impact both financially and personally. And here’s what you need to know.
That’s ok, and you are not alone.
Entrepreneurship is a difficult game and the more you fail the more you’ll learn. The ideas I’ve discussed are just a few that I’ve come to experience.
There are more out there, many better ones.
Which is why (in the spirit of community) – i’d love to hear from you.
What are you working on?
What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
What has been your biggest lesson in terms of reaching success?
What would you add to the list above?
Leave your answer in the comments below!