The topic of this episode is the mindset that you should be in before you start—or as you start—and the journey that you might consider, start to finish on your way to that very first product launch. One of the things worth recommending is starting with something smaller, a bite-size chunk of product or service that you can get into the market relatively quickly. The primary objective is interacting with potential customers. They might not be paying you right away, I mean your first fire attending clients maybe freebies and then maybe people that you do discount work for but the value they are giving you isn’t monetary so much as informational. You’re going to design your service or your side hustle based on the feedback that you learned by actually trying to deliberate.
00:19 Nanci: Morning Julian, welcome to episode 3 of the Slashpodcast. This is going to be a two-part episode. Part one you need to sell something. So you know over the last two episodes we’ve been talking about if you are being pushed out of the corporate environment, if you want to leave the corporate environment how can you start your gig, in this Gigonomics environment. Either as a freelancer or as an entrepreneur. One of the things that we’ve learned, at least I have is when you do make that jump from the corporate world either voluntarily or semi-force it is easy to spin your wheels for weeks or even months as you get started. And a future episode coming up is going to be why we both wish we have begun earlier on a couple of projects but what I want to talk about today. What we’re going to talk about today is you need to sell something. A blog is not a business, a website is not a business, a business card is not a business and when you’re just getting started it super easy to spend way too much time on everything from designing a logo or your website font and yes I speak from my experience. I think days and days on fonts and what you were doing is avoiding the tough decisions about you know how you’re going to make money and putting yourself out there and taking the risk.
01:49 Julian: Yeah, I think it’s called creating fake problems. One of the things holds people back is their belief that they are not ready yet. And there’s a whole bunch of stuff that falls out of that beliefs, so they need to have an ‘I need my logo, I need my website to be operational, I don’t have the right amount of equipment, or I haven’t got the best space to work out of, and you start creating a whole laundry list of reasons, why your not ready to start but once you get that done. Then you are going to be all cons-placement and were here to say that you’re ready now.
02:22 Nanci: Yeah, and if you’re not careful that list will go on and on it can actually. If you have an alternative source of funding and you don’t have the pressure that list can go on for years trust me. So, in this episode were going to talk about that and in the next episode, part two were going to cover the formats of exactly what you might solve. Whether it’s an e-course, an online course, a service but today Julian and I are going to talk about the mindset that you should be in before you start or as you start and the journey that you might consider sort of start to finish on your way to that very first product launch.
02:59 Julian: Alright, let’s go!
03:00 Nanci: My advice, because I think much of what Julian and I are talking about here has been said before but what we bring to this project is our particular experience. For my side of the table here, do not go from quitting your corporate job to some online master class. I repeat, please don’t do it, it’s going to seem like a very good idea. You see all these people online with these courses 597, 997 you know you start doing the math, and if you have a 997 course, you serve 20 people a month, hey, that’s an easy 20k, and you sleep and why you do nothing. What could go wrong? And I just want to say that what happened with me is like creating an online master class was a bit like eating a car, well at least it felt like that. The sheer amount of slides and research and graphics, recording, editing it just went on and on like this is of course in addition to the logo, the website font, and the colors. In addition to all of the effort that you’re putting into researching and the production of your course you have to deal with, how and where you host your course online. There are all sorts of options for having sort of an online school or protected content area, marketing strategy. You’re always thinking about “I’m working so hard on this course, 6-7 hrs. A day at night after my kids go to sleep. Who’s going to buy it, where am I going to get buyers” so you’re thinking about that. You have to think about checking out cart options, payment processors, video hosting, storage profiles, it was seriously overwhelming.
04:46 Julian: I think one of the points that Nanci is making here, the main point you’re making is that once you go down the rabbit hole of actually starting to build out your product or develop your service. If you leap into it without actually trying it out in baby steps with existing customers, you could be spending a lot of time and effort. Moving in a direction that is. Nanci: The wrong direction. Julian: Maybe not the most relevant direction for your customers because when you begin, obviously you don’t have costumers. So you don’t necessarily know their pain points are or what they want, or what they want to do or what they want you to do for them. And I think one of the things worth recommending is starting with something smaller, a bite-size chunk of product or service that you can get into the market relatively quickly. It doesn’t have to be a fully develop website. It can be a strip down nut and bolts type set up in the beginning. The primary objective is interacting with potential customers. They might not be paying you right away, I mean your first fire attending clients maybe freebies and then maybe people that you do discount work for but the value they are giving you isn’t monetary so much as informational. You’re going to design your service or your side hustle based on the feedback that you learned by actually trying to deliberate.
06:14 Nanci: And solving people’s problems is getting paid for market research if you are charging for your services even if it’s discounted. The information that they are providing to you in terms of what their problems are, their pain points and you solving them is just incredible market research for future products and just to go quickly back to my experience. I honestly set aside 30 days to record my course. I cleared the decks. I specifically had like 8 hours a day to record my course, and it took 6 to 8 months. So midway to the recording I was in so deep it was too late to quit, I was almost burned out to go forward. So you know there I am, too late to leave, too tired to push through with expenses and wait for it no revenue. When your recording and online course or creating a huge product you’re not getting revenue until it’s sold and you can lose momentum and motivation.
07:20 Julian: And Nanci what could you’ve done differently. So you build a 30-hour course.
07:25 Nanci: I did, I build a 30-hour course.
07:27 Julian: So you went off into Bruce Springsteen recording Nebraska, you went into the barn you brought your eight tracks, and you just locked yourself down cut yourself off from the world and produce. Which is you now, a method for creation and I think there are a time and a place to do that kind of work but what you’re saying is initially, you spent a lot of time developing out something that you hadn’t sold even one.
07:51 Nanci: No, what I should have done, what I could have done is say I had the 30 the lessons; I should have sold one lesson. I should have taken one lesson or bundle three lessons into like a three part video series. And I should have that for sale from day one. There are a couple of reasons why that would have work if I had sold just one maybe even for $29, my master course is $597. If I had sold this sort of single lesson on its own, I could have sold it for 29 dollars. I would have to go through all of the steps to sell it $29 course are the same for a $1000 course. You need a checkout, you need a payment processor, you need video hosting, but I would have served the energy and the motivation to do it because I would have the time and the structure to create this sort of production of the course because the course itself was a sort of a mini lesson.
08:48 Julian: I think this should be an appropriate time to introduce the MVP concept.
08:53 Nanci: Yes the Minimum Viable Product for me could have been a single lesson sold for $29 or $49. And I would have solved so many problems revenue wise. The point of the MVP is not to get money, not to get rich it’s like a warm-up for the big event. When you start your business if it’s online or even offline, you have certain smaller monthly website hosting, and you know email software hosting. It’s not very much it can even be a $100 or $200 a month but at least if your selling this MVP this minimum viable product you getting lets say if your selling 10 you are getting $290 even just to cover the cost of you expenses which give even more motivation to sort of keep going especially as those expenses increase.
09:44 Julian: Yeah and I think the broader concept. I mean we didn’t invent this either, this is a term I don’t know who invented it. I know it came out of the lean startup movement that I read a lot about it in this book by Steve Blank, 4 steps of the Epiphany which came out awhile back but essentially the idea is in Steve Blank’s words “You have to get out of the building“ so you need to get your idea ride out into the world as soon as possible so that as you developed it and designed it for the market you’re learning what your market is, and so the minimally viable product is essentially this trip down smallest version of what you can put out into the world but still is your product or your idea without even an extra, and you test it out with customers and they’ll tell you “okay you know what I really love Nanci your course on money coaching but what I want to learn most about is you know..
10:42 Nanci: How to get out of debt, when you start talking to your costumers which you start from say maybe not from day 1 but day 5 if you have this minimum viable product they will tell you what they want to know and what they need more of and then you create more courses or coaching around those specific problems that your trying to solve.
10:59 Julian: So let’s eat our dog food there Nanci. So this is our MVP. This are the first early days of our podcast were putting it out there, and we’re looking to you to tell us what do you want to learn about. Anybody listening sends us an email. Reach out to us in any of our social media channels, check us out online slashpodcast.com. Give us feedback, give us questions, tell us that we suck, tell us what you’re hoping to change or what are your areas of interest and what do you want to learn more. If you’re a first-time freelancer or looking to join the gig economy because you’ve chosen to or because someone else decided it for you, talk to us.
11:42Nanci: Because we are listening. So you might ask, I bet you wished you started with an MVP like a Nanci. Like the first lesson and the answers no. I should have started with coaching. I think that you should start with a service because you never assumed even if it’s just a small course, what your audience’s pain point are. I’ll give you an example a lot of my first sort of marketing leads, and lead magnets which are kind of content I created as marketing for my course were all about keeping fees, low index funds, ETFs and finally when I started talking to the people that were interacting with me on my blog. They were saying, can you and the entire financial industry shut up for five minutes on fees and explain to me the difference between a mutual funds and RRSP and as soon as I started talking about the differences between mutual funds and RRSP and even using the language that my clients were giving me in my marketing material is when my course really started to take off and if I had been coaching from day one I would have heard those pain points from my clients and I could have created a first MVP. We’ll say my first MVP is coaching, my second sort of bridge between and MVP and an original you know core offer or masterclass could have been this individual lessons, recorded lessons what’s that, that scalability. Suddenly instead of one on one coaching where I’m charging $250 an hour, I can sell this little one hour or even thirty minutes explanations online from my website and then as it grows lesson and lesson I start selling them in packages, next thing you know I have an audience that’s growing warmer and warmer as the months goes on and their ready for my core offer that I launch let’s say 997 one day.
13:50 Julian: And I think the really important thing that you said there is that you were talking about interactions. That’s the first step in starting your business is your looking for interactions, you need to create the opportunity for a market to interact with you and that’s your first goal before even making your first sale you want to have feedback, you want to have a customer who’s somebody who’s interested in what your selling or offering or the services that your going to be delivering and you want to get them talked to you, tell you what their problems are, because you’re in a business of solving a problem that’s ultimately what any business is there for and I think that’s a good point. The good point you made about starting with the service because services are a low-cost there’s no buyer entry when you’re delivering your service. So it’s something you can afford to get going on without really making much of an investment and inherently in the service there’s dialogue in place, you need have to have somebody that you’re delivering the service to and somebody that’s talking back to you. And without that interaction, you’re talking into the dark right?
14:56 Nanci: You also want to get an indication of if and how much your costumers are willing to pay for it. Do they care enough to put money on the table and you know instead of spending three months developing a 30-hour course that you find out is just going to sit on the shelf and collect dust. You might as well start with the services, start as you are doing your coaching, start preaching to your coaching clients “Hey I’ve got this little library on the side I’ve recorded would that be interesting to you?” Often what you will find what happened is I was coaching say mothers, and that would say “you know what I’d like to buy that little set of videos for my daughter” and so suddenly you’re like okay there is a market.
15:38 Julian: Maybe not the one you initially thought of that’s a goal from an MVP.
15:44 Nanci: Yeah. Good point. So what’s the next step, I think that if you don’t have a website the next step should be a website. Concerning this MVP- Minimum Viable Product, which we’re talking about is to throw up a coaching or services page. And the way it could be set up is a little bit about your services, a picture of you smiling and then always super important a testimonial from someone that you have done some work with before, some social proof.
16:15 Julian: You’re saying get a website which can be a daunting prospect to somebody who’s never done anything like that before. And we’ll talk about just down the road in the tools section, but you’re basically you’re saying set up a blog, go online, go to WordPress, get a free template, and now you can have a website up and running within a couple of hours work.
16:35 Nanci: Yeah, I mean that’s on our list for the next three episodes. So by the time it’s ready and published I’ll put a link in the show notes. So as your listening to this right now there’s probably a link in the show notes to the episode were, we walk you through step by step on how easy it is. How simple maybe.
16:54 Julian: What do you demystify the process right?
16:56 Nanci: Yeah, of putting the website online and you want to say don’t be afraid to put a number out there. So do some market research, see what coaches or people in your industry are charging per hour or per day for their services and put it out there. You know you might just get some clients from it, but more importantly, it sets the bar for the value of your time. Therefore, when you are launching mini courses lessons or master classes you can structure you can have your fees be higher so if you’re charging a $150 an hour for your time. It makes perfect sense to buy an eight-hour course from you that cost $799. If you want to see an example of a coaching page in action, you can visit the moneycoach.com/coaching were for $250 an hour I will happily walk you through the difference between mutual funds and RRSPs.
17:58 Julian: Good idea. So let’s wrap it up. Just this sections, I mean basically what we’re saying is when you begin your life as a freelancer or an entrepreneur before you even start, the first thing you need to think about is what are you going to sell? Getting to that point requires you to start thinking in terms of people’s problem that you’re going to solve. Some of the challenges are, the common problems that people wants to solve are problems of convenience if you can take something and make it more convenient for somebody through service or product, you address the issue there’s a market for you out there somewhere. Problems of time savings, like related but if you can save somebody’s time by aggregating content, everything in the world is available for free to someone if your willing to put in your effort, most people are not willing to put in a bid or don’t have the time to bring an effort so if you are committed to this choice in life, and you want to be that person, and you put effort into pulling together some form of content whatever it is, that’s in your interest and make it into a convenient package for somebody else, you’ve saved them time, you’ve created a convenience and you have a viable.
19:17 Nanci: Minimum viable product if not a core offer. In the next episode were going to talk about the different formats that those products can be in and depend on what the format is the price can change. So we’re going to wrap this up for now. Goodluck! Thinking about what your MVP is I hope that you take our advice if it makes sense for you and you put up a services or coaching page on your website.