The approach I'm taking to developing ideas is distribution first.
Instead of looking at a product or service, and then finding buyers, I'm starting with the audience.
This approach will give me more leg-room to work with. Right now, if I were to start something, I'd still have to find buyers.
So instead, I'm looking to create groups of people, serve them value, and then see about selling them something. This means that I won't necessarily make money right away, but that's okay. As long as I can get to break-even building the audience(s) I'm happy.
Here are the audiences I've decided to focus on:
- Real estate developers (the people under 50 who work in the industry).
- Professional services business owners, salespeople, and marketers.
- A younger version of myself.
- People who are currently going through what I'm going through.
Here are the approaches I'm taking:
- Not mining for gold in a gold rush - selling jeans, hats, pans, and tools to gold miners.
- Extremely specific and practical value-propositions.
- The audience is a golden goose, the products are golden eggs.
Let's get into them.
The first is real-estate in my local area (Vancouver / Lower Mainland of British Columbia).
Real estate is a massive industry here. I'd venture to say it's the major driver of our economy by far. It's good money.
I work at Periphery Digital, which provides marketing services to these people, which means I'm already familiar with many of the intricacies (especially for pre-sale real-estate). These people are our clients, after all.
There are tons of business opportunities here as well. The industry is old, and operates like it's old. This is partly because they don't have to modernize. The homes are selling (faster and faster). So this isn't necessarily a play to modernize the industry. It's a play to empower the people working in it that aren't old.
The people who know that if they don't figure out how to get more out of their work, learn more, and do more - they'll be left behind. Not from real estate, but from everything else they want to do. Real estate marketers, brokers, investors, etc. People who want to learn more about marketing and sales in this space. This is the first audience.
The second group are the people who have been employing me for the last few 5 years. Professional services companies always talk to me about how to close more sales.
I did business development at these companies and I can understand why owners ask me these kinds of questions. They struggle to sell, the people "helping" them are selling snake oil, and the options for real growth in this regard are limited.
There has to be opportunity here. While a crowded space with many players, it's also a big space. Even a small piece of it would be fine for me and I'm excited to proceed.
The Younger Me
Creating value for the younger version of yourself is one of the oldest tactics, but it's often overlooked or falls flat. Why? Because people (in my view) struggle to identify what they were really going through back then. People who lack self-awareness blame others and make excuses.
The younger me made many mistakes. I did a lot of things for the first time and it showed. But now that I'm here, I think there's a lot of value I can add to people going through what I went through.
- Trying to get a job (make money in general), without a (useful) formal education.
- Crushing the first 6-months.
- Setting professional boundaries with people who ask for free advice, time, and work.
- Managing the mental game (burnout, negativity, what matters, why we do what we do, etc).
- Creating and using systems instead of inconsistent spikes.
- Packaging knowledge into a side-project.
- Negotiating, selling, making deals, writing up terms, etc.
I learned these things the hard way. Surely people can learn from my mistakes. I know back then, I'd happily pay $20 a month to learn. In fact, I spent significantly more than that on books anyway.
People In A Similar Situation
I'm not the only one worried about the recent changes in the economy, especially here in Canada. Tons of cash got printed, inflation will kick in, raises won't happen fast enough (and might not be big enough to keep up anyway). So where does that leave people? Looking to build side-projects or some additional stream of income. It's for good reason.
I view these people as if they're much like me. In their careers, probably doing well, but looking or more. Upward opportunities aren't necessarily likely. Since we're not kids anymore, it's fair to say we probably have some kind of responsibilities now. That means we can't just drop everything and jump into entrepreneurship. Better for us to take it slow, start something on the side, and then (if and when it does well), we make the switch.
Not every project will focus on these audiences only, but this gives me a good foundation to start. As one thing relates to this audience, its success (or failure), will help me determine if the next product should vertically integrate with the last.
If the audience catches on, then instead of re-inventing anything, I can just add more useful things for the people on my list, who are already benefiting from what I'm doing.
This is why a distribution/audience-first approach makes the most sense. Once established, anything is possible.