The Two Major Problems For People Trying to Find a Money-Making Idea
There are two major areas of finding an idea where people break down.
- They can’t identify an idea at all
- They have too many ideas and don’t know where to get started
Let’s break these down.
#1 Barrier to Making Money: “I don’t have an idea at all”
This one is common. Here’s a hint: Most people think only of themselves and what they’ll pay for. And since most people are cheapskates, they think that nobody will pay for anything.
Wrong: Go walk in a mall or at a local market. People pay 5x for organic beets at a farmer’s market. They pay $5,000+ for weird-looking art. And they pay virtually anything for their kids and pets.
People pay for value (Walmart). They pay for convenience (housecleaner). They pay for simplicity (Apple). They pay for motivation (personal trainer) — even though they “could” technically work out on their own.
The question is:
What can you offer that they’ll pay for? And how can you find out?
No, let’s look at the second major failing in finding a profitable money-making idea.
#2 Barrier to Making Money: “I have too many ideas and I’m overwhelmed”
Having too many ideas can be just as paralyzing as having no ideas.
A comment from last week:
My other hesitation is with ideas. I have over 10 ideas that recirculate through my head on a weekly basis (i’m an Aries, it’s normal.) Some I have put into practice and then let slide, while others never got finish or started. How does a person like me stick to one idea? Or is there a way to use all my ideas in one business?
First of all, are you seriously telling me your horoscope when it comes to building a process for making more money?
Anyway, see if this sounds familiar. You’ve spent all day thinking through your 50 competing ideas for earning more money. You could be a chef! You could create iPhone apps! What about a website? Maybe teaching music. By 9 pm you’ve run a mental marathon, yet you have nothing to show for it. You’ve reached analysis paralysis, where your quest for finding the “perfect” freelance idea (by thinking and analyzing the idea but not doing it) keeps you frozen at step 0.
Then, even if we get past this initial paralysis, we can end up spending so much time building up an idea — naming the idea, designing business cards for the idea, putting up a website and figuring out exactly how to describe it to our friends — that when we forget the most critical part: seeing if there’s actually a paying market for that offering. After all that work, it’s easy to give up, exhausted and frustrated. I’m getting frustrated right now writing this and I’m contemplating violence.
Remember, just like in the dating world, you probably won’t find your right match the first time, second time, or even the 5th time. That’s where MOST people give up. Instead, I want you to think about building your idea generation system to test, measure, and refine until your idea is earning you your first $1,000 on the side.
The ‘Right’ Money-Making Idea Meets 4 Key Criteria
What constitutes the ‘right’ idea for freelancing? There are literally thousands of ‘right’ freelancing ideas out there, but here are 4 key criteria that every viable idea has to meet:
Viable Idea Criteria #1: Showcases Your Skills
Your money-making idea needs to match what you can do with skills you currently have. Skills are tangible, countable abilities that you’ve acquired through experiences on the job, in school, or elsewhere. And listen, stop short-changing yourself. You HAVE skills. Are you really good at math? (Did you know I once hired a math tutor and paid him a lot of money?) Can you play a musical instrument? Are you really good at interior design? Are you in shape? There are a million skills you have, but we overlook things about ourselves all the time. Except for me, because I am incredibly narcissistic.
Find your skills: What are all the specific things you could list on your resume?
Examples of skills:
• Personal training
• Ad sales
• Video editing
Viable Idea Criteria #2: Showcases Your Strengths
Your money-making idea needs to showcase what you’re best at. Strengths are intangible qualities that you have a natural affinity for that make you stand out from the next person with your skillset. This is typically what college kids often cite in place of real experience and, while I like to mock it, these actually matter. For example, I know a woman who openly said she never wants to talk to customers — her strength is working behind a computer and that’s what she likes. Great! Be brutally honest. You might be really good at building systems or turning complex ideas into actionable insights.
Find your strengths: What are the qualities that have gotten you the most praise on the job or in school, or that have made you feel the most ‘in the zone?’
Examples of strengths:
• Developing rapport with others quickly
• Managing multiple people and projects
• Organizing data into actionable information
• Teaching other people new ideas
Viable Idea Criteria #3: Matches Your Interests
Your money-making idea needs to match what you like to do. Interests are the things you love to do, and not just on the job.
Find your interests: What do you read or research in your spare time? Magazines? Blogs? TV shows? What fascinates you most? A good example that my friend Ben always mentions is, “What do you read on a Saturday morning?”
Examples of interests:
• American politics
• Live music
• Online gaming
• Street fashion
Viable Idea Criteria #4: Has an Actual Market
There’s an actual market for your idea, meaning there are people who will pay you for your service. A market only exists if there are real people — that you can pinpoint, reach, and validate BEFORE you start offering a service — who are willing to pay you for your service.
Ok, please read this carefully because too many delusional weirdos get this wrong.
The above skills, strengths, and interests were important, but they are also relatively easy since you can look inward and knock out the answers in 5 minutes. So when someone comes to me and says, “EUREKA!!! I AM GOING TO EARN $5,000+/MONTH KNITTING COLORED BUTTONS ON FLANNEL SHIRTS BECAUSE I AM REALLY GOOD AT KNITTING!!!” I carefully nod, turn away, vomit in my mouth, and call my assistant to immediately ban them from ever joining my Earn1k program.
How can you determine if there’s a market for your idea? Two quick tests:
1. Check for supply: Is there anyone else offering your service?
Now, a lot of people I know will actually get depressed when they notice there’s someone ‘already doing’ their idea. The competition makes them shrink away like a white guy in a spelling bee. This is the opposite of how I see it. When I see a healthy range of providers for an idea, it tells me there’s very likely a decent market for that offering. It’s good news — not something to shy away from. Since most people are terrible, with some ingenuity you can crush them.
2. Check for demand: Is there anyone out there looking for your service?
DO NOT OVERLOOK THIS OR YOU WILL BE DOOMED TO FAILURE AND I WILL CURSE YOU.
Have you ever seen a job posting or help wanted ad for the service you’re thinking of providing? On Craigslist, other jobs sites, or even via word of mouth? These are clear signs of demand in the marketplace for your idea, and that’s also very good news.
Every one of my Earn1k students knows that that MUST validate the demand of their idea.
In other words, if you think that you can do marketing for local restaurants, you had BETTER interview 15+ restaurant owners to see if they:
- care about your idea,
- value it,
- use the same words you do to describe their problem, and
- will pay you for it.
If you have no demand, you have no business — end of story.