I have never done much in the world of small business. Nevertheless I see people in the ‘maker’ community consistently building and shipping project work. This community is hit-or-miss to me, many people are purely out to make a buck with no regard to the actual product being produced. I have nothing against that, but it isn’t really my thing. Projects should have some creative spark that makes them interesting. This year I am looking to diversify my understanding of markets –and my own income base– why not get a 2-for-1 by setting up some simple sides?

Some ground rules:

  • These projects will not be my main or even main-side gig.
  • I am not expecting to make a fortune. Right now success is just sustainable profitability.
  • It needs to be something that I can automate/offload any recurring work.
  • It needs to be easy to sell.

Goals

  1. Simple, Simple, Simple. From easy→effortless to maintain
  2. Tells a great story
  3. Little setup capital required. (low-risk)
  4. Looks very nice
  5. Easy to have people love it (strong word of mouth)

Basics

I have never shipped or stored physical goods, run large ad campaigns, or built a mass-consumer product. Anything can go wrong and I expect it will! 🤷🏻‍♂️

The concept of passive income is the grail to many people. In all but the rarest of cases I think it is a myth. Most businesses require on-going effort to keep up traffic, gain market share, or just in dealing with overhead tasks like taxes and payroll. Having passive income as the initial goal can be useful though, as it makes a person prioritize efficiency from day 0.

Background research

As a side-side project this play will benefit greatly (I hope) from my other actions. I am currently working on learning more about markets for my work in venture investing through Early Capital. This means that I can use the information that I am finding to make something even cooler. What is working and what is not.

*tl;dr — I am generating content from my research. I wrapped that up into its own website and called it Uncapped Research. It is in pre-alpha mode, Check it out → uncappedresearch.com*

The best moments of product delight are often subtle touches that could never be advertised.

Storytelling

Selling product is all about selling the story that goes along with it. And that story starts being inked before you even realize it. Just think about all the stereotypical questions that new businesses get:

  • What inspired you to start XYZ? Why you? Why now?
  • Why did you chose to [work remote, start in XYZ city]?

Many of these questions will have fixed answers that will be hard or impossible to change later if you desire too. I have found that it is a good thought experiment through an advertising-driven development model.

  • What about your story is press-worthy?
  • Can you cut through the noise?
  • Will your story/value prop have to compete with many others –– eco-friendly, large funding, lofty goals, etc?

Thinking about these things in the beginning is important, but beware of doing everything for shock value. The best moments of product delight are often subtle touches that could never be advertised.