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

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 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 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.

Written by April Dykman