Every business serves a group of people.
Have you ever thought about what type of people you want to serve?
When I first started my business, I wanted to work with people who valued:
- Social impact
I had a lot of other opportunities to start more lucrative businesses such as NFTs or Dropshipping, but the thought of serving those people made me feel sad.
Your business should make you feel happy, not sad.
Your one-person business likely won’t die because of a lack of customers, but more of your lack of interest to serve those customers.
When you decide to start a business, you’ve just gotten married.
People falter in business because they think they are marrying a solution.
You’ve married a problem.
Your solution is only a hypothesis so solve that problem. You’ll likely pivot many times. Fail. And iterate again and again.
I wake up every day excited to solve the challenges in my niche and industry. I read research reports in my spare time. I love talking to people in the space and attending events.
If you don’t have this level of enthusiasm, pick a different problem to marry.
As Peter Thiel once said, “competition is for losers.”
In the online world, you don’t need to compete. You need to be different.
I write in the most saturated niche possible — self-improvement.
But yet I’ve carved out a niche within that niche based on my unique skills, knowledge, and experiences.
These aren’t even technical skills.
I embed my lived experience in my self-improvement:
- Growing up as a migrant in Australia.
- Being a 3x award-winning social entrepreneur.
- Quitting my 9–5 job and experimenting with being a digital nomad.
- Building a four-figure per-month revenue as a part-time content creator.
When you combine things together, you get to create a unique value proposition for your audience.
“You can escape competition through authenticity”
— Naval Ravikant.
People overcomplicate starting a business.
You don’t need to have an office space, a perfect product, or a completely refined value proposition.
In the 12 months since venturing out alone, I’ve made numerous pivots based on customer data, feedback, and experiments.
I’ll probably continue to keep pivoting as I go.
Here’s how I started:
- I started by asking 2–3 contacts if they had any social impact-related projects they needed support with.
- I identified their challenge and the gap from where they currently are to where they want to be.
- I provided advice on how I could help get them there and the skills and experience I’ve had to demonstrate credibility.
- I won the contracts. And boom. My business was started.
Anything outside of this is simply mental masturbation.
You can figure everything else out with a few hours of Google and YouTube.
You are naturally gifted at something.
Don’t believe me?
Check your DMs, comments, and previous conversations. You’ll have clues as to what people know you for.
If you’re still unsure, ask your family and friends what seems to light you up and seems to give you energy.
You’ve got loads of data sitting around you. You just need to mine it for answers. When I did this exercise I got:
- Making money as a content creator.
- Values around social impact and entrepreneurship.
- Books, ideas, and knowledge.
I’m still figuring out how to integrate this into a cohesive offer and value proposition, but hey, that’s the fun of it all.
Back to marriage.
People plan for a bright future, but they don’t plan for a messy divorce.
I had a lot of fears about starting my business.
- What if it failed?
- What if I lost money?
All reasonable. But mostly overblown.
To overcome this fear, I used Tim Ferriss’s Fear-Based Goal Setting.
Column 1 Define: List all your fears. Be specific and detailed. Rate your fear out of 10. With 1 being minor, and 10 being catastrophic for your life.
Column 2 Prevent: Bad events don’t happen overnight, so plan some mitigating steps you can take to prevent the worst case scenario from happening.
Column 3 Repair: Create a plan of action if those fears came to life.
Here’s an example from Mindful Ambition:
Fears that are defined are 80% conquered.
The last step is to ask yourself: What’s the benefit of a failed attempt or partial success? For me, it was:
- I create a life-changing business and never work a 9–5 again.
- My business failed, but I have a great story and experience to start another business while I work a 9–5 job.
- I learn new things, have new networks, and understand what I am capable of achieving.
When I set everything out on a page, I realized I couldn’t lose.
I would either create a life I really wanted or I failed and I got a 9–5 and tried again.
I also realized that the biggest risk was inaction. Staying in a 9–5 job was hurting me more than helping me. I felt stagnant and pessimistic.
I quit a few months later and I haven’t looked back since.