In this short, Chris Edwards shares tips to create and test ideas that solve real business problems.
Since you loved our last short, we’re back at it! In this episode, Chris breaks down finding the right idea and testing it, to growing it without adding more operations and people. Learn how to ride the wave of rising trends and test your ideas before investing too much time and money into them. Chris also shares some valuable insights from her personal failures that have helped her become a better entrepreneur.
So whether you’re out on a walk, listening to this while commuting or just having some downtime, let’s get down to business. Don’t miss out on this insightful episode!
In this conversation, we learnt…
– Five tips that help you find an idea or concept that solves a real problem (2:04 – 9:30)
– Three ways to test your idea (9:31 – 11:11)
– Scaling your business without increasing operations and people (11:12 – 15:21)
“If you are solving a real problem, it means that you are creating something that really matters”
Breaking down the first part of how to scale your business begins by ensuring that you are solving a real problem. It’s the number one way to ensure that you’re going to have a great business. Similarly, you should be creating something that’s different to your competitors.
“I can count at least six businesses that I’ve started that no longer exist today.”
Another tip for ensuring you’resolving a real problem is to learn from your failures. Chris talks about her failures including a bridal site called HoneyBrides, a kid’s activity booking platform called HoneyKids Go and a course for media entrepreneurs, Make it in Media. While it took her a long time to realise when something was working or not; now she’s able to use her business experience and intuition to know whether to pursue something or not. For example, despite Make it in Media being profitable, she found that it took too much of her time and wasn’t scalable enough, so she called it a dayafter six months. The more experience you have, the better you get at letting go of ideas.
“Post-pandemic, there was a real appetite and hunger for real connection, community and networking. There is also a shift to leading with kindness, which I really think is a core part of what we do at Launchpad.”
The last tip for solving a real problem with your business is to observe macro trends. Chris believes in hopping on a “rising tide” that will help your business grow and flourish. So look out for current trends , whether it was digital media 15 years ago or sustainability now, try to have your idea to solve a current problem.
“I would recommend asking people to buy it before you’ve built it.”
One way to test if your product or idea is solving a real problem is to see if there is interest before creating a full solution. Chris did this for the Make it in Media course. She wrote a landing page, mapped out the concept and product but didn’t start building the product until she had eight sales. It was only after she had approximately $20,000 in sales waswhen she was able to prove interest and product market fit, and building the product.
“Think about what you can create that is not one to one, but one-to-many.”
Chris was asked how to scale your business if you don’t want to add more people and more operations. This resonates with solo entrepreneurs, like a business coach or a photographer. How do you scale without growing your headcount? You should think about a product that serves a real need that you can deliver to a bigger audience at the same time. This could be group coaching classes, downloadable guides or templates.
Chris Edwards (01:31)
Hi, guys, I thought I’d do another quick how to Episode I got some lovely feedback from the last quick 15 minute episode I did on how to scale your business. And I actually got two questions directly. One was a request to break down those four components into long mini episodes, which is what I’ll do today. And another question I got was, how do you scale your business if you don’t want to scale up people and operations, and you still want to remain a solo entrepreneur?
Chris Edwards (02:04)
And that question I will address in this episode as well. So today, what I want to talk about is the first part of the business strategy piece about scaling a business, which is how do you ensure that you are solving a real problem in your business. So I do believe that if you can solve a real problem, then that is the number one way to ensure that you’re going to have a great business. Because if you are solving a real problem, it means that you are creating something that really matters. And you’re creating something that’s different to your competitors. So that’s for me the definition of solving a real problem. So today, I want to break down. How do you do this? How do you test that your product does solve a real problem? And then how do you do it as a solo entrepreneur? So that’s what I want to go through today. So first of all, how do you come up with an idea or a product that solves a real problem? So I have five tips for you on how to do this. The first one is read a lot and read international media see what’s happening in other parts of the world. That’s how I came up with the idea of honeycombers, I saw, well, actually, my husband saw a digital business in the States called Daily candy. And it was a daily email that gave people tips on things to do in New York City.
Chris Edwards (03:41)
And this was back in 2007 or 2008, long, long time ago. And he found this website that blew up. And I think it’s sold for $7 million. And he forwarded it to me and he said, This is what we need for Singapore, we need a guide that everyone trusts, that is a really great insight to what to do and cool things to do in and around Singapore. So that’s how I came up with the idea. It was reading international press. So another way to come up with a really good business idea is just to observe lots of things and write lots of notes. So I don’t know about you, but I use the Notes app in my phone all the time. And I really liked the interview that Jerry Seinfeld who is the world’s most successful comedian did with Tim Ferriss on his podcast. And he talks about because basically all he does is it a comic skits right and he his show is worth $500 million to Netflix. That’s what he sold it to Netflix for so wildly successful. And he talks about doing the work and just writing and forcing yourself to write down observations and ideas. So we’re reading and writing, believe it or not, and my first two tips. My third tip is to really make mistakes. So, when I came to thinking about this concept of coming up with a product, I actually reflected on my business journey. And I have three brands. Now I have honeycombers, lifestyle publications, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bali.
Chris Edwards (05:23)
I have honey kids, which is a lifestyle publication for parents in Singapore, and I have Launchpad. So they’re all profitable businesses that bring me lots of joy. They’re easy, they have great flow. And I feel like all of them really deliver on solving a problem. But it took me a while to get there. So I actually counted up how many failures I’ve had along the journey. And I think there might be more, but I can count at least six businesses that I’ve started that no longer exists today. So I created a bridal site called Honey Brides, I created a kid’s activity booking platform called Honey kids go, I created a course for media entrepreneurs could make it media. So I’ve done lots of things. And not all of them have worked. And reflecting on my journey, it took me a long time initially, to realise when something wasn’t working. And now today, I feel I can start something. And I can tell just through my business experience and my intuition, whether it’s something that I should continue to pursue and keep investing in or whether it’s something that I need to tweak. So for example, Honey Brides, I think I ran for two to three years. And it probably cost me somewhere in the vicinity of $200,000 to have that business idea and to run it. But my most recent one that I started and stopped was a course called Make it media which was profitable, and it was revenue generating. But I looked at the business model, and I didn’t love it, it required way too much of my time and wasn’t scalable enough for me. So I stopped that after six months. So I do think as you get more confident and more, I suppose have more experience, you know, knowing when to let an idea go is also part of the journey that you get better at. Okay, so I’ve got two other suggestions on how to come up with good ideas.
Chris Edwards (07:33)
One is a suggestion that actually came from the author Tim Duggan in his book killer thinking. And Tim says that there’s not really any new ideas left. So what you should think about doing is adding two ideas together or like plussing ideas. So getting something that’s existing, and tweaking it, or adding a concept from another idea to create a new idea, and I really liked this idea. And then the fifth point I’ve got on how to find a good idea is to think about what’s happening in the macro, like what’s happening with trends at the moment. So when I launched launched honey comas, which was 15 years ago, it was really before digital media became a thing. And I remember one of the things I was worried about was, are people actually going to read content online, like they do magazines. So I was really early into this space. But clearly, I was there at the right time, and I was in what I call a rising tide. So the move to digital has been extreme in the last 15 years. And likewise with Launchpad, you know, I feel like post pandemic, there was a real appetite and hunger for real connection and community and networking. And a real also shift to leading with kindness, which I really think that that’s a core part of what we do at Launchpad. So I feel like again, I launched a business concept at the right time in a tide a rising tide. So look for trends that are happening. Sustainability is a great opportunity. People are looking for businesses, and concepts and products that they can buy into that have less of an impact on the environment makes them feel better and more aligned to their values. So there’s a lot of opportunity right now, for my five tips on how to come up with a really good business idea solving a real problem.
So next I want to talk about how do you test this idea. So I’ve got three ways I recommend you can test it. Firstly, you can interview people, I would start with family and friends like we’ve started dinner parties, start talking about the idea and asking for feedback. Even better talk to strangers or talk to a wider community. put a poll up in your communit. Ask people to give you what’s their biggest pain point. What’s this a problem? What do they think about this solution? Would they buy this? So that’s the first one asking people.
Chris Edwards (10:03)
The next thing I would recommend is to actually ask people to buy it before you’ve built it. So I did this for the makeup Media course I created. I wrote the landing page, and I came up with the concept. And I mapped out what would be in the product. But I did that actually start building the product until I had eight sales. And the sale price was I pretty sure it was two and a half thousand dollars. So I had circa $20,000 In sales, before I actually started building the product. So really asking people to buy from you is the best way to test whether people want this product and whether the product is solving a real problem. And then finally, and this is another tip from Tim Ferriss, I read it in the four hour workweek years ago, he was like build a landing page and run some ads and just see if what your cost per click is and whether you can get some sales from strangers running some ads on Facebook or Instagram. So I thought that was a really good tip too. So you can definitely test your concepts before you go and build the whole product out.
Okay, so the last thing I wanted to share with you was the question I got asked by one of my friends at launchpad, which was how do you scale your business, if you don’t want to add more people and more operations, maybe you’re a solo entrepreneur, maybe you are a business coach or a photographer, and you really want to grow without having to grow your headcount? And I thought this was a great question. And it really fits to how do you create a product that solves a real problem, because I really think how you do this is you think about what you can create. That is not one to one, but one to many. So what I mean by that is, can you create a product that serves a real need, that you can deliver, not one to one coaching, one to one consulting, but one to a group.
Chris Edwards (12:07)
And there’s some really great examples of this, and I want to talk through a case study. It’s actually of a female entrepreneur based in rural Queensland, who had a cake decorating business. And her business is called Cass’s Cakery. And I’ll put the Instagram handle in the show notes, because it’s a very interesting case study. She basically had a cake decorating business, which you would think would be very unscalable. But she built up quite a significant audience on Instagram. And so she had this audience from all around the world, in fact, that just loved her cakes. And she came up with a concept to put together products that she could sell digitally, from her Instagram account or her website. So she sold templates and she sold How to Guides and stencils on how to make these cakes, and now casts, her husband doesn’t work. And she is the sole breadwinner, she has four kids, so she has to make enough bread or cakes. But to hear that someone who has a cake business could come up with some concepts, that it’s completely scalable means that her husband who was flying fly out, mine out working in the mines doesn’t have to work anymore, and can stay at home and look after the kids, I thought it’s a fantastic case study of how actually anyone can come up with an idea that meets a need, a real need and that is scalable, and doesn’t necessarily need a whole lot of money investments, or people in their operations. So I would challenge lots of consultants, and photographers and all those wonderful people out there that are doing one on one to think about what you could do to scale and serve more people. So it could be a downloadable guide for $100. If you sell 1000 of those that’s $100,000. Like it’s not small change, right? It could be group coaching calls, or it could be a pricing strategy two day workshop, you know, there’s lots of things that you can do to help small business owners, your cake makers or whoever you’re serving, as long as you’re clear on what the problem is that you’re solving and making sure that your product actually solves that real problem. And I think if you can get that right, that really does make everything else easy. So do not skip this step. Think deeply about what is the problem that you can solve in your business. And what does that problem feel like? What does it look like? What does it sound like? How do people talk about it? The closer you can get to that problem, the better your solution is going to be? All right. Hope you enjoyed that quick episode on how to solve a real problem. Let me know what you think I love to hear from you. And I really hope that with these little nuggets of insight and thought bubbles that were helping you create your own good business. Thank you for listening to good business.
Chris Edwards (15:21)
Okay, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Selfishly, I created this podcast for my own personal growth. So I could go deep with entrepreneurs that truly inspire me. Of course, I also wanted a wider listenership to think about having an impact, and our wonderful community at Launchpad, where we’re all aspiring to create better businesses together. If you have enjoyed this episode, I’d love you to leave a review, or perhaps share this podcast episode with a friend. That’s how podcast episodes get discovered. And I would love more entrepreneurs to think more deeply about their business and about creating a Heartland business with a bigger impact than just profit. And I’m sure you would too. So go ahead and post something on LinkedIn or Instagram or Facebook and spread the word I will be forever grateful. Thanks again for listening and I hope that you feel as inspired as I am to create your own good business.