Don’t compete with Walmart (lowest cost).
Don’t compete with Amazon (most convenient).
Focus on high quality…it’s the last thing technology hasn’t solved. Offer an experience, provide a story, enlist customers to identify themselves through your offerings (product or service). This insight provides an huge advantage when developing skills or making a product. If convenience is key, pay the cost of off-the-shelf solutions (e.g. selling through Amazon, publish on Apple App store, using Wix to make a website). Outsource the “way” but never the “what”. However if convenience is the key factor of success, the margins can get too low and eventually quality will suffer. Balance the margins (making more money) vs. loyalty of a customer (optimize for customer retention). If you try and please all customers, you are not targeting your sweet spot. Find “good-enough” margins to allow for reinvesting. The goal early on is to sustain the group of raving fans by continuously improving quality of products/services or skill. Great theory right? Here are practical questions to ask.
- Do I make money from a skill that is hard to learn?
- Would it take others >24 months to develop skill and be hirable?
- Is your skill framed in a unique way in the labor market?
- Is the combination of your skills rare?
- Would others talk about product/service to their peer group? (e.g. Look how cool I am with XYZ product)
- Would they talk to their mom about buying your offering (e.g Look Mom – you would be proud of me)
- Would someone take a picture of your product/service and post it on Instagram?
- If you answered “no” to any of the above question you might be able to identify your problems of low margins, low customer retention, no free time to learn/reinvest, or just low quality because you do not have the time.
Actions to Take:
- Think about re-positioning your product/service or target a different audience.
- Learn a better skill or more rare skill (generally rare skills are hard to learn).
- Learn another skill to compliment existing skills. Having a 1-2 punch combo can be effective, even if you don’t have the best single punch.