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Building a Productized Service Step-by-Step: Day 1 – Overview & Rough Plan

There are two non-negotiables for me when it comes to starting a new project or business:

  1. I do something that is within my circle of competency
  2. 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. 

Productized service.

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). 

That’s why.

What am I building?

Short answer: I don’t know yet. 

Long answer…

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)
  • 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

Status:

  • Money spent: $0
  • Money earned: $0
  • Hours worked: .5 (writing this post)
  • Coffee count: 1

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