Alright. Here we go. For this year my only resolution is make 1 entrepreneurial dollar. That means any way possible. Most likely by setting up a website on Shopify and selling something easy like a shirt or water bottle. The idea isn’t to break the internet with the next big thing. The point is to prove to myself that making a buck on your own isn’t rocket science.
I recently watched a “Black Mirror” episode that had an interesting quote. And I’m paraphrasing, “It’s the state change that is uncomfortable.” In other words, I’m not really worried about having a website and running it. I’m actually worried about changing from my norm. Getting out of my current routine and breaking ground in new territory. The transition is the holding me back. Now the rest of the episode where I got this quote from is fairly dark, but this concept definitely stood out to me. This is why I’m setting the goal small at $1 profit. $1 should be very easy to make. Once I make that $1, I would have gotten through the state change and can then get comfortable with the new state.
Now this brings me to the elephant in the room. WHAT to sell. I think about this a lot and to be honest, I haven’t gotten that far. On one side, I’ve considered working with my brother, Stefan, to help design shirts and other products. This would cure the problem I repeatedly see with coming up with something to sell. I can take focus off the creatively side in terms of the product and focus on the business side, such as growing the business, marketing, blogging, and sales to name a few. The flaw with this strategy is my dependence on my brother. I’m not sure about his interest in this idea and I’m not going to force him into it. That’s not fair nor will it spark creative designs. The other option for me is to create a product to sell. I can do this by picking a product that already exists or invent or innovate something new. Most likely I will start off innovating an already existing product. Once I do this and build up some confidence, then it’d be easier for me to perhaps come up with something new to sell. Either way the strategy is very similar. These are the strategies I need to consistently be doing:
- Blog content about the product or the lifestyle of the product
- Post pictures and videos on the site and social
- Advertise on social and other sites
These are the things that have to be consistent. The other things I need to consider would be finding new products or inventing new products. Down the line, other concepts I can look into are finding a store to put my product on their shelves or develop a partnership with an organization.
I think it’s worth listing the limitations or worries that I have with this state change. By doing so, I expect to cleanse myself of the fear and mitigate any risks whether they are financial or psychological.
I’m not beating around the bush here. Here are the only things holding me back. Next I want to breakdown the “risks” and list how I can mitigate each one. For money this is simple. I know for a basic Shopify account it costs $30 a month. This gives me access to sell my products online as well as blog and post content to drive traffic. After doing research with drop shippers, I can buy t-shirts with any design I want along with my company logo for ~$18 (including shipping). Keep in mind that this means buying one shirt at a time. Obviously price would go down if I bought in bulk. For instance with the manufacturer I’m considering, if I bought 25 shirts at one time the cost per shirt would decrease to ~$14. Let’s use the worst case scenario with buying one shirt a time. Taking into account fixed costs (website) and variable cost (shirt and shipping) while selling for $25, I would have to sell 55 shirts to break even. Keep in mind this would have to be done in the first month. Right off the bat, this not worth it.
To make this worth my while I have to increase profits. To increase profit I have one of two options; cut costs or increase selling price. I could easily do both by buying in bulk and simply raising the price. If I were to raise the price, I would need to do some serious marketing work and work on my design. A simple logo on a shirt won’t cut it. I technically could do that but that wouldn’t be profitable in the short run. For example, Polo sells t-shirts with just a simple logo on it. However, when customers buy that shirt they aren’t just buying a shirt with a simple design on it. They are buying the brand which is why they can have a higher selling point. Building a brand takes years. Now, this is a fairly big limitation for me since right now I have no brand. So I wouldn’t be able to bank on selling the brand. If I were to take this road, I would have do to some serious marketing and posting on social media to build the brand. And I’m not sure I want to go through all that trouble.
Another scenario is to find a product the old fashion way. This is much more optimal for me. I would love to find a product that cures a pain point in my day to day life that revolves around health and/or fitness. Scratching my own itch as they say. How can I carry this out? Well for example, my upper back has been very sore lately. It could be a number of reasons why it’s sore, but I know massaging the area helps a lot. I have a back massager that is ok. I’ve found it even more helpful to roll out the sore areas using a lacrosse ball against the wall as I lean back on it. This would be a good starting point if I were to go down this path. How can I make this method into a product? I know it works better than the back massager I bought. The lacrosse ball works great. However, there is room for improvement. For one, it moves after some time. After rolling out for a minute or so, you’ll notice that the ball usually moves out of the location you are targeting. This makes you having to adjust the ball and your stance and making you find that sweet spot all over again. The other area for improvement is the work on your legs. You have to do the moving yourself and that requires a decent amount of leg work. You have to keep consistent pressure on the ball while you move up and down and side to side. On one side I can fix these issues and on the other I can improve without fixing these issues. I would ideally combine both strategies by fixing the issues and giving this method more capabilities like making it vibrate or have it heated for example. It’s also important to preserve what works best for this method. The best ability this method has is you get more control. You get to direct where the ball targets and how much pressure to apply. Preserving this is essential because this is the reason why I prefer this method over others. This method would require more design efforts upfront than the drop shipping generic items. Since the product is much more unique than a t shirt per say, I would not need to rely as much on the marketing to sell. The competitive advantage changes. In this scenario, the competitive advantage is that this product would be the only one of its kind. Other factors to consider are that I would need to design, test, redesign, and test…etc. until the product works the way I would like it to. Furthermore, I would need a patent to protect the IP. All this sounds great and there could be lots of potential, but this is a lot of work. Perhaps more than I am willing to put in.
I already discussed selling a generic product and inventing a new product, but now is the hybrid strategy. In other words, finding a niche and uncommon product, slightly changing the aesthetics, re-branding, and selling as my own. With the t shirt example, I am not tweaking the product at all outside of re-branding. With the back massage example, I am completely redesigning and basically making a brand new product as well as branding it as my own. With this method, I would like to look for a product that I already use, tweak the aesthetics, and re-brand as my own while keeping the functionality the same or better. This strategy would require much less design work and testing on my end. It is also less risky since if it already exists, there must be demand for it. The effort amount of marketing would fall in between the first two scenarios since there is less uniqueness in the product itself. And I’m ok with that. As for an example of a product for this scenario, I have to do some thinking. I would love to start a fitness/lifestyle brand, but coming up with this product to give me my competitive advantage is difficult. I don’t use many fitness products outside of the machines at the gym. And I’m not a fan of the “all in one” home products when it comes to strength training. Whatever I come up with, I like the idea of starting off with a somewhat unique, high quality product then adding generic accessories like shirts, hoodies, leggings, and maybe even some stretching bands. The hunt for the perfect product is on.