Every Entrepreneur Is Trying to Thread the Same Basic Needle

If we come up to the 30,000 foot level, you have the same opportunities and challenges that every other entrepreneur has:

  • You have a product/service
  • You want to profitably sell as much of your product/sell as possible
  • Your product has a market – a set of people in your target audience(s)
  • You want as many people in your target audience as possible to know about your product, and then ideally to use/purchase your product
  • There are competitors in your market
  • There is a price that you can charge for your product, sometimes based on the competition
  • You can sometimes raise your price through advertising. So Bayer Aspirin sells for 5X the price of generic aspirin, and Advil sells for 5X the price of generic ibuprofen.
  • There are also comparables – you don’t compete with them, but they are doing a similar product with a similar audience. So if you sell a sleeping aid, a comparable is caffeine. Caffeine is not a competitor because it is the opposite of what you do, but caffeine may have similar channels, similar customers, etc.
  • You have a sales model: You can sell a widget at a time, you can sell combo packages, you can sell via a subscription, etc. Tom’s shoes sold one pair of shoes and gave a free pair away charitably – that is weird, but that’s their model. Dropbox is freemium. Herbalife is publicly traded and MLM. Etc. Can you MLM your product (shudder… but who knows)?
  • You have different channels for distribution: Your own web site, Amazon, stores that sell similar products, vending machines (even Proactiv has vending machines now), Mall kiosks, Airport kiosks, MLM, home parties, etc.
  • Sometimes companies do something really creative and “break through to a new level.” Five hour energy is such a product. 5HE invented the “energy shot” that did not need refrigeration and is small, so it could go right next to the cash register. Super-high price point too. Proactive definitely broke through too using a giant ad budget and giant prices. Is there something you can do to “break through”.
  • You have a number of different advertising channels that are possible: Digital ads (Google, Facebook, etc. There are also ad networks like doubleclick with retargeting, etc.). Affiliate programs. TV ads. Radio ads. Print ads. Street teams. Direct mail. Email. In-store displays. Flea markets.
  • Once you have a channel with one product, you can theoretically push other products through the channel.
  • In theory you can position “your brand” in a hundred different ways. Proavtive has a brand around acne. Dove has a broader brand around “skin care”, which it has expanded and morphed over time for soaps and lotions. Bath and Body Works sells its own brand of soaps, lotions etc. and could add lots of quirky things under that banner. Trader Joe’s is doing a similar play but with food. Etc.
  • You have advisers, which are either informal or formal (as in a board of advisers).

You are trying to thread the needle with all of these variables to maximize your results. Everyone is.

One thing you can do is take the bullets above and try to list things out for each one. Who are your competitors? What possible advertising venues do you have? Who are your advisers?

And then how could you expand? If you have 3 advisers now, could you grow it to 5? In your dream world, who would become an adviser?