The First Month Report
So, it’s been 35 days since I kicked off this challenge, wow, how time flies! In this time, I’ve had a number of successes, setbacks, conquered some of my (stupid!) fears, and have been making some progress towards my goal. I’ve also had some things in my personal life intertwined with this that is making it… ahem… interesting. But I’ll detail it all below. Let’s jump right in:
What Product Should I Make?
Nope. There, I answered your first question, right? You wanted to know if I’ve figured out what product to build… didn’t you? Nope, I haven’t. Have I found some things that look hopeful? – YES. I am actually starting to build a proof-of-concept of one of these right now, because I’ll use that in my day job. But I’m not going whole hog, as it doesn’t quite seem to hit the target sweet spot I’m shooting for. I’ll go into details on that in a later post, but suffice it to say, I’m trying to find something where the average monthly revenue per customer is around the $30 mark. This one would be more in the $3-9 area… still do-able at scale, but I’ll keep it in my back pocket… for now.
Business or Consumer Focused?
One of the biggest issues I’m facing is 90% of my audience is consumers, NOT businesses or business users. I’ve read time and time again that selling to consumers is a ton tougher than to businesses – or more specifically, if people can’t make money off your product, or save them money, then it’s hard for them to justify; it’s a non-essential, and has to be justified against other non-essential purchases – it’s a much harder sell. I don’t have a ton of experience in this area, but the advice makes sense.
The problem with my 10% audience that is businesses or business users, is that it’s such a narrow market, I’ve been unable to find proof of a need in the market yet (or at least not overwhelming proof) using the methods Amy Hoy calls the “Sales Safari”. The only item so far that is obvious is one that is pretty overwhelmingly complex, and would take more than a year to build to beta-quality; a project for another time.
The Sales Safari is Simple, Just Time Consuming, Right?
I read her thoughts on it, watched a video of her doing it live, have read about other’s experience with it… “crazy simple, just time-consuming” I said. “It’s easy, just spend a few hours every morning and evening” I said.
Not. So. Fast.
WOW. This is probably the biggest fallacy that I told myself! The problem isn’t that the actual blocking and tackling of the sales safari is hard, rather it’s trying to figure out where exactly your audience hangs out! Like I said previously, I’m trying to go after the business / business users in my existing audience, and since they are mostly $50MM+/year ecommerce businesses running Oracle / ATG Web Commerce they don’t exactly hang out on forums or divulge their pains. Most of the higher-ups at these companies just call up vendor-X that they heard about at an ecommerce conference, or they ask an integrator like the company I work for to recommend a vendor. There’s not a lot of information in the public (or even on the private forums) for this audience.
Turning Over Every Rock
I swear during the sales safari process I’ve been turning over every rock, heading down every rabbit hole… I’ve come up dry a thousand times, I’m sure! But I’m persisting. I always hated launching products before, since there was nothing saying anyone would ever use it. But with the Sales Safari, I’m basically digging and digging, and finding bits and pieces and shreds of things that people are virtually BEGGING to pay for. It’s just a matter of time before I find THE ONE. I have not lost faith, but I’m now aware it really it harder than it sounds and looks. The thing is, persistence is rewarded in any endeavor; same here.
The Toughest Thing So Far
I’ve told pretty much everyone I’ve come into contact with about this challenge. The toughest thing about it so far has been the stuff in my personal life that have made me almost want to just abandon the challenge! Very summarized version… blah blah blah, on January 15th, a Judge in Collin County, Texas ruled that I have sole custody of my seven year old son. Yeah! Kick-ass! BUT… that also means I’m continuing to have a ton more responsibility regarding his every move than I did six months ago when it was 50/50 custody. It takes a toll on my energy levels. But it’s awesome. Truly, truly the best thing ever.
I’ve been working on getting a list of the biggest pains together, so I can analyze them, and see which makes the most sense to move forward with, and focus on. So far, there are a few… some in the consumer hot rod/motorcycle space – one around events, another to do with actual building the vehicles.
Another space is something completely foreign to me; brokering / chartering private & commercial jets. As you can imagine, reaching so far outside of my base of knowledge is uncomfortable, but I also have met some amazing people in this space to partner with, act as counselors and advisers and to simply call B.S. if there’s something fishy going on.
I’m still digging, and probably will be for some time… who knows, maybe I won’t even identify the pain point to address for another month or two? But you know what? I have confidence that if I keep at it, the pain I identify will be one that a number of people have, and will get me to my goal in short order.
How’s Your Challenge Going?
A number of you told me that this was inspiring to them (awesome… I never thought it would have that effect, but that’s super cool!), and some were going to embark on their own similar challenge. How is your challenge going? What issues have you hit? Any roadblocks? Any faith or motivation lost? Let me know… email me: email@example.com or in the comments… I’d be happy to get on the phone with you (I’ve done a number of sort-of “office hours” type calls since the original challenge post, I’d be happy to do more!), or start an email chain, or get a bunch of us on a Google Hangout to chat… ping me, let me know.