Ep. 128 Different business ideas

different business ideas

In today’s episode, Anna looks at how to choose between different business ideas so that it works for you and works in the market.

The business you choose to focus on needs to work for you – your revenue goals as well as your desired lifestyle – and for the market, for your clients. To help you choose the right idea, you’ll need to assess your different ideas against your own criteria, evaluate the balance of effort versus reward, and validate the idea by talking to experts and potential clients.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

The One Step Outside Facebook group – Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside

Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5

Level up with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate




Hello there and welcome back to the podcast, where we’ve been talking all things business models, in particular, how to choose the right business model. Even if you’re just a solopreneur or a freelancer, someone who is just themselves, you’re a company of one in your business, it’s still important to choose the right business model. We talked about courses and group programmes and memberships and so on. And when you’re trying to choose the right business model, that is exactly where I’d recommend that you start. Defining success, of course, that’s what this whole podcast is about. Getting clear on what’s important to you from the big picture. What’s the life and the lifestyle I want to lead right down to the nitty-gritty, the day-to-day, the practical parameters of the life and lifestyle that you want in terms of, do I want to be location independent?

Do I want to travel or not? Do I want to have a commute or do I want to be able to work from home from wherever, whenever? Are there certain hours I do or don’t want to work? Of course, income, revenue streams, revenue target, it’s really important. How much money do I need to be earning and so on? So that’s absolutely the first place to start. I think, in a way, a lot of us don’t start there. Unfortunately, that’s where we end up with the accidental business model, where we’re creating something, perhaps because someone else told us it was a good idea, or just because that the opportunity came up, which is great. Or we’ve just been sucked into something without really having our eyes wide open and considering intentionally what we’re creating and why. So that really has to be where you start in terms of what’s the right business model that’s going to deliver my particular goals.

And that does include the profitability aspect, the financial viability, the financial freedom, financial security.

But it also includes the freedom, the flexibility, the fulfilment, as I’m always talking about. So what does that look like for you? However, what if you have lots of different ideas? You’re ambitious. You want to do the course. You want to do the programme, the membership, one-to-one. You’re thinking maybe freelancing. You’d like to write a book, a podcast, et cetera. My goodness, where on earth do we start? Next week, I will be talking to you about the idea of a portfolio career, one of my favourite concepts. And I know it’s popular among many of you as well, those of you who have lots of ideas, lots of interests, passions, and want to dabble in a few different things.

However, for this week, let’s assume that we have to choose one idea, at least for now. I always say to my clients, “You know what? We’ll choose something for now. It doesn’t mean that you’re not going to do these other things. Let’s just give this a chance for this year, or even just for this month, or these next three months, this next quarter.” So let’s say you have lots of different ideas. How do you start choosing between them? And again, the first place to start, of course, is grab your criteria. There was an episode a few months ago around defining your career criteria. I don’t know the number off the top of my head, but do check that out and also a couple of weeks ago, of course, talking about choosing the right business model. But assuming you know what your criteria are, you can then compare, of course, your different ideas. But again, let’s imagine that you have lots of ideas.

Yes. And that will definitely fit with my definition of success. I want to have the course and the programme, et cetera. How can you choose? Well, a couple of ideas for you in terms of validation and testing and thinking about the practicalities, the viability in the market and how quickly you will be able to make them work, I guess. So the first tool is a matrix. If you imagine the effort on the one side, how much effort you need to put in and that’s time, energy, also money. And then on the other side, it’s impact. How big an impact can you make? You can imagine anything from low effort, low impact, right up to high effort, high impact. There’s also, let’s get this right now, high impact, low effort, which of course, is the dream and low impact, high effort, which is not so good. Let’s go through each of them.

First of all, as I said, the amazing one is the high effort. No. The really, really good one, let’s start with that one, is the low effort and high impact, high income perhaps. Now, it might be difficult to imagine what that might be, but let’s say it’s an idea certainly for the whole business that doesn’t require a massive industry infrastructure, a team and inventory and so on. Perhaps, and I usually say this is a service-based business rather than product-based. So that’s on the whole, overall business model. Within that, one-to-one, let’s say, for me as a coach, when I started out I could just put out a post. I say just, I mean, I qualified and trained as a coach. I, of course, wrote lots of blog posts and started a website and email and so on. But in theory, you can just post on LinkedIn. Connect with someone. Have a chat with someone. And say, “Hey, I’ve got three slots available for this type of coaching.”

Or maybe you’re a freelancer. You can just, again, I use the word just very loosely, I can package up my existing skills and experience. I can use my existing network. I don’t need to have a massive audience to do all these things. I can ping an email to my closest friends or colleagues. I can post something on LinkedIn. I maybe need a bare bones of a website or something, but really a LinkedIn profile, having a conversation with someone, that’s all it takes. That’s pretty much. That makes it sound really easy, but it’s in that area of relatively low effort and potentially high impact, because I can then get a handful of clients, as long as the pricing is decent. You don’t have to go for the crazy high figures right away when you don’t have the confidence or the experience to back it up. But at least, it’s not the low, low, low levels that we’re talking about. I’ll mention that in a moment. But that’s the dream, isn’t it? The low effort, high impact.

However, it depends how you define impact, because of course, if this is work that you don’t want to be doing, let’s say, I have, and I have had, and some work has come in that I don’t go after. I do no proactive marketing or sales or anything, lead generation in that area. But I have some great contacts and they come to me now and then ask me to do some work. To be honest, that’s pretty low effort in the marketing sense, at least. The projects can be pretty meaty. That’s a bit higher effort, but it’s worth it because I’m financially compensated on some projects more than on others.

But that kind of scenario, where I don’t have to chase. I don’t have to do lots of marketing. I don’t have to buy ads or do lots and lots of Facebook workshops and all these things. Those types of work projects are again, low effort to get at least, and then high impact in terms of the monetary reward in that case. So have a think about what is in that bucket for you, in that quadrant, low effort, high impact.

Now, the second area, which is really important, but requires a bit more planning is the high effort and high impact. That’s still really good. I would imagine most more meaningful, rewarding, powerful ideas are in that bucket. Say, for example, if you do want to launch a group programme, a course, a mastermind, something that requires more materials, more infrastructure, getting more people involved, developing frameworks and tools and so on, that’s going to be incredible. That is really going to help you get the more leveraged time, the more passive, as it were, income.

However, it’s not something that you can just do like that. You’ve got no audience when you’re starting out. You can’t go, “Hey, I’m selling this course for…” Well, you could. You let me know how you get on with that, $10,000 or for $10, even worse, and I need 10,000 people in order to get the money that I need and so on. Something like that is well worth the investment for the future, but it’s not something that’s going to give you money right away.

If you really need the income right away, let’s say, you’ve already quit your job, then I would encourage you to look in the area that’s a bit lower effort and higher reward immediately.

But again, the more meaningful projects, things to do in marketing, for example, building your brand with a book, a podcast, again, don’t expect. Even guesting on someone else’s podcast, it’s an amazing thing to do. You can really piggyback on other people’s audiences and that will snowball. But as my mentor told me many years ago, “You can’t just do a couple of interviews and think ta-da, you’re going to get lots of clients from that.” It really is a momentum building snowball effect after many, many of those sessions. You could, of course, get a client here and there, but really the real results will come from when you do this consistently.

So again, the most rewarding projects, a book, it’s going to take a lot of time. It’ll be an amazing step in your funnel. It will be a fantastic resource for your clients. It’ll be a fantastic, rewarding, achievement for you. But it’s not going to be something, “Hey, I’ll just publish this book.” Now, a little ebook, for example, could be low effort. By the way, also using, perhaps you already have a blog, you can package up that into a little mini course. Or if I already had podcast episodes, maybe I can turn those into an audio course. Who knows? Of course, that could be a lower effort. If you have existing materials, package it up. Or, by the way, and we’re going into lots of different ideas here, but if I can do a live course, rather than create everything upfront, that could be interesting and the pricing needs to make sense.

It’s okay if I just have a couple of people join, because the first time you launch a programme, maybe you only get two people to join. Maybe if you’re lucky, three, four, five and so on. As long as they’re paying enough to make it worth my while, I can actually create the course as I go. Potentially, I can even record those live sessions and then use those to package up as a course later on. That’s again, lower effort, because you’re just showing up and being there. Of course, you want to prepare and so on, especially when you’re first starting out. But lower effort and higher impact. So that’s the good row, I guess, in the quadrant. That’s the high impact and one is low effort and one is high effort. Now another one, which is the low hanging fruit, as we used to call it in corporate speak, is the and I have to really be careful what I say, it’s the low effort and low impact.

So it’s sort of, you know what? If I’m free, I have no other work on, I’ve got a bit of extra time, something comes along and I’m asked to do a one-off call or there was a platform I’ve used more so in the past called, clarity.fm, where people can pay you by the minute and it’s not a lot of money, sometimes I’ll then use that as a funnel into my main business programmes. But when I was starting out, it was a great way to get a little bit of extra cash. They pay two, three dollars, whatever a minute, and you’ll get a half an hour’s worth, an hour’s worth and that a one-off call.

That kind of thing may be a smaller project, which is okay, paid on an Upwork or a Fiverr and so on, those different platforms, 99designs, depending on what type of freelance, what type of service you can offer. But that’s something that doesn’t take effort from me. It doesn’t take a huge amount of effort. Show up to a call. Do it. It’s very easy for you. But it also doesn’t give you huge impact. It doesn’t give you lots of money or meaning or reward in that sense.

Now, the final quadrant is to really avoid, warning, da, da, da, it’s of course, the high effort and low impact. Now, it might be hard to sense, to anticipate where these ideas are going to be when you’re not so familiar with the whole business world and entrepreneurial things going on and so on, when we come from a previous employment background and so on. But do you keep your eyes and ears peeled for this. So ideas that sound exciting, I guess, could be really great. But that’s going to require a lot of investment of your time and people and so on. Actually, it’s not going to give you a great output. Now, simple examples could be again, on those platforms like Upwork and so on, usually people are under paying if you’re not filtering and using it effectively as a platform.

For writing, for example, for blog posts, a lot of people will say, “Hey, I want 10 blog posts for $10 or even a hundred dollars.” That’s just not worth your while. Certainly, if there’s a lot of back and forth and if they want bespoke content, if there’s going to be editing and it’s 2,000 words each and so on, there’s no point. Now, if you think that’s important to build your portfolio to get testimonials, by all means. But that would suggest more, I guess, high effort and higher impact if you’re thinking in terms of a non-monetary reward.

But those are the four quadrants to think about. So think about the effort versus the impact, the effort you’re putting in, the inputs, versus the output. The dream, of course, is low effort and high impact. The area where you really want to be focusing in terms of the longer term is high effort and high impact. The low hanging fruit, which, hey, if you have time, it can add up over time, lots of little things, the low-hanging fruit of low effort, low impact. Lots of little impacts can become a big impact. And, of course, the no-go zone, the red zone, is high effort and low impact.

So that was great. Hopefully, that’s useful for you, just to check your ideas against those different quadrants. And again, thinking about where you are right now, do you have a lot of time on your hands? In which case you can do lots of little things. Or are you really desperate or keen, at least, to get an immediate impact in the sense of financial reward, get compensation right away, you might want to go for that area. Can you then balance that with, let’s say, as an example, doing some freelancing in the short term, consulting to get some money coming in? If again, if you’ve already quit your full-time job and then on the side building the longer term brand and business. That’s going to be much more powerful, but it’s going to take longer to build the funnels, the group programme, the book, the podcast, and so on.

Then just before we wrap up, because I spent a lot of time on this quadrant, but I think it’s really useful as a tool, thinking about how you’re going to validate your ideas. Because I come from the perspective of making sure it works for you. But there is a pivot that happens as we design the business, as we leave our jobs and really focus, selfishly, as we should, on ourselves, what do we want from our life from the business? What’s going to work for us? There is a shift that needs to happen when we look outwards. We’ve been looking inwards. We need to look outwards. What’s going to work for the customer, for the client, for the market? That’s why we need to look out and think, okay, let’s not make assumptions here. I might assume that people want to have a course, because it’s cheap. And they can learn how to do it. They can go off and do that by themselves.

However, as certainly I’ve found in my own experience, there are all sorts of statistics that people don’t finish courses and so on. Actually, people don’t really get a lot of results unless you’re very self-motivated and really on it and there’s a lots of accountability and implementation support and so on. You’re only kind of passively reading stuff. You’re not really making a difference. Whereas, the true transformation comes from the one-to-one. It comes from the group element perhaps. You might be assuming that people want a course. Or you’re not even thinking about what people want. You’re just thinking of your own leveraged time, the passive income. You go out there, create a 12-module extravaganza course, or even a smaller thing. Nobody wants it. Or they get it. They get awful results. They ask for their money back. They get no results. So let’s avoid making assumptions about what people want.

One of the ways in which you can find out, and guess what? It’s to talk to those people. It’s talk to, if you can, your ideal customer, the potential clients and customers, whether they’re B2B or B2C businesses or individuals, consumers, you want to be able to have a quick chat with them and say, “Hey, I’m working on this. Would that be the kind of thing that you’d invest in?” That’s in theory. Of course, the best way to do is to put it out. To put up a landing page. And really send an email. I would do that to my list now, saying, “Hi, I’m thinking of putting together a personal branding programme. Is anyone interested? Let me know.” Or, “I’m going to do this course, this session, this live webinar or whatever.” Then you get a good feel for real people who really want to learn from you and want that particular format.

Also, asking for feedback before working with people, after working with people and so on. But validating your idea with the actual clients who you’re assuming are going to want the thing that you’re developing.

The other thing you can do is, of course, talk to experts. Whatever the field you’re in, there are other people like myself, but in your particular industry, perhaps who will know, “Hey, I tried that. It doesn’t work because of X, Y, Zed.” We don’t want to rule things out just because everyone’s being very negative and saying things don’t work, because of course, the true innovators will come with something even when everyone else said it wouldn’t work. But it’s important to listen, at least, to their perspective, because there might be some regulations. There might be some aspects that you haven’t considered before.

Well, generally in this area, people aren’t so keen on this. Or there’s the confidentiality aspect. There’s the legal side of it. You can’t do this, that and the other. So talking to your ideal clients, talking to experts and then trying to, of course, test it in the real world. Not just ask people, would you buy this? But actually putting it out there, doing a waiting list page for your book and starting to post about your podcast, even before you’ve done it, to see what the kind of response is. If you get people saying, “Oh my gosh, yes. This is the exact thing I’ve been looking for my entire life,” that’s a pretty good sign.

I’ll leave it there for this week. We looked at how to choose between different ideas. And, of course, starting from your list of criteria, everything from the big picture of the life and lifestyle you want to lead down to the nitty-gritty, the day-to-day, your practical parameters of what you want the business model to deliver for you. Then spending a lot of time there on the matrix, the grids of effort versus impact, thinking of, “Okay, right now I desperately need income coming in. I’ve left my job. I need that. So let’s go for some of those low-hanging fruits. Let’s go for the things that I can get income from right away.”

But also looking ahead and thinking of how can I create a bigger impact in the future? How can I really build and grow and develop the programmes and the business that I want to? The marketing funnels, the assets, the build, the legacy effect of that I want to build. That’s the longer term. We always need to balance the short-term needs with the longer-term vision. And then of course, trying to validate your ideas as much as possible. So talk to people. Talk to experts. Talk to your potential clients to understand, is there really a need?

You can see things in Facebook groups. There are already lots of conversations that people have had in membership programme groups, for example, or in coaching groups or whatever. You can already get a good feel for questions that people have asked before. Probably you’re not the first person, no offence. And it can be again, very innovative to come up with something very new and different. I encourage you to think that way, but nonetheless, it’s important to gather that expertise from the people you know who have that experience. You can add that to make a really informed decision.

So again, next week we’ll be talking about portfolio careers. But hopefully, this has helped you. If you have lots of ideas, don’t worry. Again, the fact that you’re not going to work on it right now, this minute, doesn’t mean you can’t work on it later. But let’s choose something that’s going to fit with your immediate goals, while also then trying to gradually transition, shift in the direction where you want to get to in the future. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll see you next week. Bye for now

If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:

Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation

Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall

Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com

Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5

Level up with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate


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