There are two non-negotiables for me when it comes to starting a new project or business:
- I do something that is within my circle of competency
- I do something that I’m likely to enjoy
I’m not going to start being a yoga-instructor because I’ve never done yoga in my life and probably wouldn’t enjoy it (not bagging on people who do yoga, I just prefer deadlifts).
But I’m also not going to run a high-growth startup, even if it was inside my circle of competency. A) because I don’t want to work on solely one thing for 60+ hours a week and B) because I don’t want my hairline to recede any further right now.
Why am I writing this? Because it’s time for me to start something new.
The concise story so far
- 14 years old… wanted to make money online, started a blog about skateboarding. Wrote 90 articles before realizing it wasn’t working. Made $20 with Amazon Affiliate Scheme but needed $100 to cash out so effectively made $0.
- 15-17 years old… nothing.
- 17-18 years old… started up another blog about personal productivity. Made ~$50 from affiliate promotion. More traffic and email subscribers than the skateboarding blog, but still a failure.
- 18-now… launched EDMProd. Initially launched with more email subscribers than previous two ventures combined thanks to Reddit. First product 6 months later. Full-time income 18 months after that. Now it’s a low-mid-six-figure company with a large readership (80K visits/month) and industry-leading podcast.
I’ve spent over 5 years on EDMProd, and I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon. It’s still rewarding and enjoyable. I still love music.
But it’s time to start something on the side. I’ve spent the last few months deliberating on whether I should start something new, and what it should be.
And now I’ve decided.
Why a productized service?
A productized service is a service that’s sold as a product. Simple as that.
So instead of me running a traditional marketing agency and pitching you my services, jumping on a call, and discussing budget, project scope, costs, discount, payment cycle, and a bunch of other things which take a TON of time and stress—I package my services so that you know the scope + cost right away.
E.g., logo design service for $1000.
You don’t make $5,000 logos, and you don’t make $50 logos. It’s 1K. People either like that or they don’t.
So why this route rather than a traditional service business?
Read Built To Sell if you’re really curious. That’s where my thinking has originated from. Essentially:
- It’s more time-consuming and stressful to run a trad service business because of customisability and customer demands/growing scope.
- It’s harder to scale your business because of project variance/income variance and lack of ability to forecast well.
- It’s harder to sell the business. Again, read Built To Sell (it’s not a big book—will take an hour or so for you to read).
What am I building?
Short answer: I don’t know yet.
I’ll be spending the first few days on market/customer research, looking at areas where:
- I have inroads/contacts or can easily get in contact with the ideal customer (so I’m not starting from zero)
- I have skills (again—I ain’t teaching yoga)
- I like the customers
For this planning/strategy phase, I’m taking a lot of direction from Brian Casel’s Productize course (which I highly recommend for anyone who’s running a service business or is thinking of starting one).
Rules and boundaries
I’m self-imposing rules on myself so that:
- I don’t burn out from working too many hours
- I can be productive and not waste time on the trivial
- I can determine quickly whether this is going to be a success or failure, long-term, so that I can quit building it if it’s heading in the wrong direction.
What are the rules?
Rule #1: Only work 2 hours per day on this project Mon-Thu
Rule #2: Work at least 6 hours on this project on Fridays
Rule #3: Spend less than $3000 on startup costs
Rule #4: Spend less than $1500 on advertising
Rule #5: 3 customers within 90 days of launch
Review + tomorrow’s plan
Day one hasn’t involved much work, it’s more of a commitment and overview of what I’m doing.
Tomorrow, I will:
- Generate a list of all potential services I could offer
- Sketch out customer profiles for the 3 most promising services/ideas
- Create customer research interview doc for identifying problems in industries I want to learn more about
- Money spent: $0
- Money earned: $0
- Hours worked: .5 (writing this post)
- Coffee count: 1