Find your biz idea (Even if you haven’t found your passion yet)

Posted on Aug 9, 2012 - 9:00 AM PST

This guide is based on Mixergy’s course with Erica Douglass.

Erica Douglass wanted to start her own business, but she was stuck in a job she hated that barely paid the bills. So she found a profitable idea and eventually sold her business for $1.1 million. It all started with finding the right idea, so we invited her to teach you how to do it.

Erica is the co-founder of Whoosh Traffic, which makes SEO easily understandable for everyone from small business owners to Fortune 500 companies. She also writes about entrepreneurship at Erica.biz.

Here are the actionable highlights from the course.

1. Find a passionate disgust to find frustrated customers hungry to pay for a solution

Erica was frustrated that her software website was shut down by hosting companies again and again because they weren’t dependable or wouldn’t support downloads.

Take Action:
Make a list of your top frustrations, or what you hate most in the world.


2. Decide if you can “MacGyver it” to choose a business you can bootstrap

Erica dumpster dove for servers at work and resold them, and when the CEO got wind and shut her down, she used birthday money to buy two servers and start hosting websites.

Take Action:
Choose a business you can bootstrap and launch quickly, even if the first version isn’t perfect.


3. Pick an problem you want to solve so you’ll stay motivated

Erica’s frustrations with hosting companies drove her to start hosting websites, which snowballed into starting her first company, Simpli Hosting.

Take Action:
Ask yourself if your idea will make the world look more like you want it to.


4. Google the market to find out if people are paying for similar solutions

Erica looked at companies like Rackshack.net and knew that people were willing and able to pay for web hosting.

Take Action:
Find companies providing similar solutions and look at their pricing plans to get an idea of how much people are willing to pay.


5. Forget being a unique snowflake so you won’t get stuck in the idea phase

The first hosting companies Erica used were lacking in customer service as well as bandwidth, so she made excellent customer service her unique value proposition.

Take Action:
Instead of struggling to reinvent the wheel, differentiate yourself by figuring out what’s lacking in the market and serving it up.


6. Do your competitive due diligence to find holes you can fill

Erica researched her competitors found that none of them make SEO easily understandable and integrate the information with the tools, so she set out to fill that gap with Whoosh Traffic.

Take Action:
Sign up for competitors’ newsletters, buy their products, and take extensive notes about what they do well and where they fall flat.


7. Take your target customers to lunch to make sure they’re willing to buy before you build

Erica surveyed Erica.biz readers who bought an affiliate product, and 55% said they’d pay $79 to have someone build links from other sites for them, which is how Whoosh Traffic began.

Take Action:
Before you build anything, talk to people in your target market, explain your specific solution and price point, and find out if they’d be willing to buy it.


Want to make sure you get results?

Written by April Dykman

  • http://www.centeye.com/ Geoffrey Barrows

    Nice! You know, I really like hearing about the scrappy beginnings and the creative ways people managed to bootstrap up with minimal resources, whether dumpster diving for computers or using an unnamed office company’s 90-day return policy to “rent” computers for free.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Me too. Dumpster diving for computers is one of the most interesting starts I’ve heard.

  • http://twitter.com/ThompsonAder Thompson Aderinkomi

    I have always struggled with wanting everything to be perfect before launch and it never is anyways. I am doing my own ghetto launch on Monday 8/13. I am talking to the local press and even going to SF for a demo at a health innovation conference in two weeks. And I find myself laying awake at night, even last night, wondering what people will say when they see my clunky solution with little coverage. This interview was just what I needed to hear so I can sleep easy this weekend. This was an amazing interview. Thank you Andrew and Erica.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I have to save this line, “I can sleep easy this weekend.”

    Enjoy your weekend. Let me know how things go.

  • http://www.facebook.com/codi.betts Codi Betts

    You can also buy ideas, I sell them.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Yeah? What kind?

  • http://www.facebook.com/codi.betts Codi Betts

    Yes I do. It really depends on the client Andrew. I will keep this description very basic but I aid clients and individuals by creating new business vehicles, solution based projects/ideas, new product development, and many others in a multitude of fields and markets. It really varies though as all of us have a set of unique qualities and skills so I utilize this heavily with my gift of being an idea engine and create solutions.  I guess it would be much easier to explain if I had a niche market I served but instead I am my own niche marke in a way.

  • Peron Daniele

    Any free sample?

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