Let’s talk about skin in the game.
In many ways, this is a revisit of this topic about not trusting non-businesspeople with business advice.
Check this out:
Here’s What’s Important For Your REAL Business
A lot can be said for targeting your customers and finding their needs and interests. If you wanted to target authors, then finding an author’s forum and seeing what they’re looking for is a good place to start.
You can get some great ideas by doing that.
But if you look at the above image quote, then you’ll see the pitfalls of this method.
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Namely, there are a ton of people who know that they want something, but don’t have the first idea about what their solution would entail.
Like the above guy or girl.
They want a website that’s as effective as Amazon at selling books (Whoa we’re into a tall order already.)
They also want it to give more profits to the author (an 80-90% cut of the profit to the author… so a 10% cut for the person doing this.
Add to that a bunch of other specific things and the fact that they want this site to be a not-for-profit site.
Now look, this probably seems like a great idea in that guy’s head. After all, the key thing there is that he wants more money for his books and more control over the site he posts it on.
But there’s no incentive for anyone to do this. Why am I going to waste my time building a site so that other authors can get more profit where I don’t? Especially when I’m tasked with the easy feat of making the site better for author visibility than Amazon?
Here’s why you should be careful when you’re analysing people’s needs, wants and desires.
Just Because You’ve Got A Problem… Doesn’t Mean You’ve Got The Solution
I’ll tell you what that author needs: They need to work out their marketing strategy.
The crux of their whole “business idea” is that they want someone to hold their hand and magically make their books sell.
Nothing more, nothing less.
The idea they’ve proposed is stupid – and I’m not saying that to be offensive – but see the breakdown above. It’s unworkable and it’s not attractive to anyone except the author in their head. (In reality, they’d hate it – because any system like the one they’re suggesting would only be able to accept winning authors that generated a massive return – so not an anonymous author who can’t market themselves.)
But at the root of the idea is the need. The need is a valid one: How do you get new or middling authors exposure so that they can make more sales in a reliable fashion? That would be the seed for your business idea.
Not outcompeting Amazon.
Plenty of people have problems that need solving, and that’s the root of all business. But you can’t accept their solutions at face value.
What they think they want isn’t always what they need, and what they think they know is never going to be the solution.
Because if they could solve the problem, they would have done so.
Check out things like forums dedicated to skin care or male pattern baldness. If you try and propose a solution, you’re going to get walls of text from people who’ve micro-analysed all the latest trends and studies.
They’re subject matter experts in a way, but they won’t ever be the person who finds the solution because they’re too entrenched in the problem.
Most People – Even Business People – Don’t Know As Much As They Think They Do About Their Problems
Everyone has problems that they need solving. Strangely, most people feel that they already have the answers to their problems. In almost all of those cases, those people will blame some hypothetical external factor on why they haven’t solved the problem yet despite knowing the solution.
If you want to actually solve their problems, you need to look beyond all of the above.
So, final take away: When you’re looking to solve problems, you find the root cause and not the proposed solution.
If you’re of the “I’ll serve my own market” mentality, then you must find the solution and apply it before you sell it. A lot of online business stuff falls into this trap – I want to start an internet business so I’ll start a start an internet business business.
Don’t do this. Look beyond what you’re given so that you can address the root problem.