“Don’t stress about people stealing your idea. If it can be stolen, its worthless. The only valuable ideas are the ones that only you can execute.”
Question: I would very much like to create a business that deals in Jungian psychology and the interplay between seeing nature as a great healer for the psyche, and environmental education. The problem is that I don’t have a product per se. I have information that I know extremely well and can speak very eloquently on (with great passion). How can I monetise this information? I have very good counselling skills, I know my subject matter backwards, but I’m struggling with how what I know can benefit the market. — Lavinia
Product is easy. Selling is the hard part. You feel confident you have a solid product, now you need to package it, market it, and sell it.
Start with packaging. Create a website. Explain on the landing page what you offer the customer. Make it simple, no jargon. (ie: I will make you happy). Testimonials are highly effective.
Remember: Selling aspirin is easier than selling vitamins. Relief from pain is an easier sell than prevention of ill-health.
Okay, you have a website. Now you need to raise awareness. Share with all your friends and family. Share on Twitter, on Facebook. Get the word out there. Someone will eventually contact you. Now, you have to actually sell your product.
Make sure you give the right price, and make sure you collect your cash. Business is not for folks who feel squeamish when asking for money. Help your first customer. Wait for word-of-mouth reference. Help the next customer. Rinse, repeat.
Selling hours is hard to scale. If you want to grow your revenues without working harder, consider online counselling, or group counselling. Books are great for PR, not great for revenue.
Should I bounce my idea off someone I trust and whom I believe would give me constructive feedback? What type of person would this be? — Ian
The first question to ask is, ‘What is his incentive?’ If the person you ask has the same incentive as you (ie. your success), then pay attention to advice. If not, ignore. That’s why you should ignore most advice. Only seek out those that have your best interests at heart.
The second important question to ask is, “Does he have experience?” Asking a life-long Post Office employee his opinion on your start-up idea is a pretty useless exercise. Chances are he won’t know that he doesn’t know anything about start-ups, and so will spout a fount of advice that is not grounded in reality. Same goes when asking a Professor of Entrepreneurship. For the most part, academics have great theories, but have never had skin in the game.
Regarding the question of trust, don’t stress about people stealing your idea. If it can be stolen, its worthless. The only valuable ideas are the ones that only you can execute.
How do you crowdfund a food business? — JC
All things being equal, crowdfunding doesn’t work. Especially for start-ups in South Africa. It’s like trying to be Jay-Z or Taylor Swift. You see the success stories, every day. They’re paraded in front of you. What you don’t see are all the failure stories. For every successful crowdfunded company (or Jay-Z), there are hundreds of thousands of failures.
If I were you, I wouldn’t put energy into crowdfunding, no matter whether it’s a food business or a rocket business. The way to raise money for start-ups is family and friends.
I’m not making as much money in my chicken business as I thought I would, and I think it’s because I’m buying complete products for re-sale. I’m thinking of buying live chickens, then slaughtering, packaging myself to re-sell, giving me the freedom to manipulate pricing to my advantage. What do you think? — Mam
Your instincts are right: You must control the price. You want to be a price-maker. The opposite of a price-maker is a price-taker. Don’t be a price-taker. That way lies stress and poor-dom.
First step in price control is to understand demand and supply. You must control supply. If you can’t manage supply, you can’t control price.
Sometimes that means being the ‘platform’. Sometimes it means vertical integration (slaughtering chickens). Sometimes it means both. Just ask yourself: What do you need to do to control price? Then do it.
Do you have a burning start-up question?