Now I’ve had a couple of emails since then from people who put potential business ideas to those tests, and came up wanting. And they asked me for my advice about whether they should proceed or whether they should look for another idea.
Before I tell you what I think, I want to first quote a paragraph from Eugene Schwartz’s great book ‘Breakthrough Advertising.’ Now although Breakthrough Advertising was written as a Copywriting book, the lessons in the book go much deeper than that. (This is a theme I want to return to in future posts).
Here’s the paragraph I want to share:
“Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exist in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already existing desires onto a particular product.”
Schwartz by the way is one of the most respected copywriters to have lived. There are guys who spend hundreds of hours tracking down his Ads in newspaper morgues and libraries across the US.
And how what he said affects what we’re talking about is that if you are starting a business, it’s extremely difficult to create a desire for the service or product that your start-up business offers if it doesn’t already exist.
That’s why we went through those 4 steps in the previous post very carefully. Each of them was a different indicator of whether sufficient demand for your business idea already exists. To refresh your memory, those indicators were books in your market in Amazon’s bestseller list, whether people in your market were paying Google to advertise, how many searches for your main market terms happen on Google each month, and if there are popular forums and blogs in your market as measured by Alexa ranking.
Now both of the people who emailed me found that the numbers for their potential markets were less than I suggested as the minimum that you should consider for a successful business.
So What Should They Do?
The obvious answer is that they should scrap their idea and look for a different one. If you’re setting up an online business for primarily business reasons, then you want to pick something that has a realistic chance for success.
The first guy who emailed me – let’s call him Bill (not his – or her – real name) – knew that this was the answer. And just wanted someone else to confirm it so he could mentally move on and look for another idea. And that’s understandable, he’d already bought a domain name and started putting a website together.
But he was sensible enough to realize that his efforts would probably not be rewarded. And so he’s looking at starting a different online business in a different market.
What About Ted?
Ted – the second guy – is in a different scenario. Because Ted’s online business isn’t really aimed at being a business. It’s aimed at documenting one of the main passions in his life. And sharing that passion with like-minded individuals.
So the advice I gave Ted was that he should proceed and set up his website based on his passion. He emailed back and asked why I’d given that advice, because he wasn’t expecting it. Here are a couple of lines quoted from the email I sent Ted:
“…what’s important in my opinion is that it doesn’t sound like you want to build a website for commercial reasons, it sounds like you want to build a website to document and share your love of (XYZ). I think the pleasure you get from developing that website will be payment in itself – if you make any money from it that’s a bonus. If you don’t make any money, you’ll be sharing the hobby you love with a tiny community of people who love that hobby – and that interaction will be fulfillment in itself.”
Follow Your Bliss
Mythologist Joseph Campbell – who’s a guy we’ll be talking about real soon on these pages! – used the phrase ‘Follow Your Bliss’ in a lot of his writings and teachings as advice to people on how they could get the most out of their lives.
And it’s relevant in this context because you need to be crystal clear what your motives are when you decide to set up a website, or a website based business. If your motives are commercial – and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to replace or supplement an existing income – then the parameters to ensure that you start with a good chance of success were established in my post last week.
If on the other hand, your motive is to do something that you love, that energizes and excites you just thinking about it, well that my friend is its own reward. And you shouldn’t let commercial considerations stop you following your bliss.
The Best Of Both Worlds
Of course if following your bliss is also something that lots of people want to share in then you can literally write your own cheques. Want some examples: how about Steven Spielberg or Steven King? These guys would do what they do for free, for the love of doing it.
If following your bliss isn’t likely to generate commercial reward then think about this, you can run an successful online business on three to four hours work a day. That leaves plenty of hours to follow your bliss too – so you’ll truly have the best of both worlds.