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The Signal

Business analysis and trends to help entrepreneurs like you stay ahead of the curve

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Date Published: 
June 2, 2020

Hello!

What a week - thank you everyone for the feedback. Some exciting announcements below.

First up, a quick shout out to some of the people who have reached out to me for some advice on their businesses!

Will T., Michael O., Jan O. and Danijela B. - looking forward to following your progress!

🚀 Kicking things off this week with an exciting announcement:

I've been toying with the idea of a community that helps people build their first business. In my head, it's intimate, it's inspiring, and it's where you can connect with people who are on the same journey as you.

It's absolutely, 100%, not in any way like one of those spammy Facebook groups. Ugh

I'll be restricting the numbers, and taking applications. Unfortunately, not everyone will be guaranteed a spot.

I opened up the tab on my website over the weekend and 12 spots have been nabbed already. If you're interested, check it out over here

Here's the catch: This is going to be a paid community - because it will be super valuable. The first 50 subscribers will get in for free (to kick start things). If you want to apply for a free spot - you need to share this email with a friend (I'd recommend a few). When one of 'em signs up, you're in for a free spot - application pending. 

Here's a link to forward it now.

PS: A few people emailed me saying they weren't regularly receiving these emails. Pesky Google spam filters.
To make sure these always get to you, please add simon@simonblogs.com as a contact or drag me into your Primary folder (if you're on Gmail).

Right-o let's get into it then shall we!

Startup Labs

// A business idea, discussed

✅ Weekly Meal Planning

During our country lockdown period of 3 weeks (and going to live back at home with my family), nothing became more clear to me than this:

The most difficult part about it being your dinner night is deciding what to make.

It became standard for whoever was on duty to do the rounds asking "What do you feel like tonight".

The truth is for a lot of people, deciding what to eat takes up a lot of mental energy that they'd rather be applying somewhere else.

⚡ The opportunity:

Create various tailored weekly meal plans. Sell them.

💥 Features:

  • Different plans for different diets & preferences:
  • Paleo/Keto
  • Vegetarian
  • Athletes
  • Losing Weight
  • Children's meals
  • Fussy eaters
  • Growing family (aka lots of food)
  • Quick
  • Beginner chef
  • Cheap
  • Gourmet
  • A summary for the week delivered on the Saturday before the next week just in time for shopping.
  • Offer 10 recipes, user chooses 4, 5, 6 or 7 and pays for that amount (or pays a subscription and then an extra $0.50 per recipe they want for that week)
  • From their selection, auto-generate shopping lists.
  • Option to have "All Ingredients Delivered" by checking a button and paying.
  • Plan meals so fresh bought ingredients are used first in the week and 'freezer' friendly meals are eaten last.
  • Have "upskill" meals once a week (if they want) where a new cooking skill is taught by making a slightly more complex meal. Can advertise this as a date night meal.
  • Use clever data management and a good onboarding process to segment your audience. A young working professional likely doesn't want to cook every night, and when he/she does they will probably want enough for lunch in the office tomorrow.

👨‍💼 Players:

How to beat 'em? Start in a niche you know, and do one of the features I mentioned above better than any of them. Make your product a part of your customers' routine so that life without it is much more difficult.

🚀 Gameplan

  1. Start super simple. Choose one or two compatible niches (maybe ones you fit into) and start an email list that curates 5 recipes a week. Send it to friends and family using a similar message to the one at the start of this section. 
  2. Ask them to share with friends if they like and click a button if they want to keep receiving these emails. 
  3. Start building a list using a super simple Mailchimp or Instapage landing page.
  4. When you've reached a point where it is growing organically, you know you've got a good product. 
  5. Start building out a website where you can house different features and attract organic users using SEO. Because of Webflow's great CMS management system - I'd use them. 
  6. Introduce a freemium model where users are able to get one or two recipes per week, but if they want more they have to sign up for a subscription fee.
  7. To reward existing readers, offer them a once-off fee which signs them up for life. No subscription fee. Make it known that this service will be costing $5 USD/week going forward. 
  8. This will give you a bit of cash in the bank to start driving traffic using PPC ads. Remember your value proposition here - convenience!
  9. As you grow, hire new content creators on Upwork or Fiverr to find and curate new recipes and attract other niche's.
  10. Partner with online recipe creators and do a rev-share for use of their recipes. 
  11. Partner with online grocery stores using the affiliate model. 
  12. Partner with food delivery services like Instacart.
  13. Partner with local restaurants: "Don't feel like cooking? Percy's Pizza is running a special for [Your Company Name Here] Readers for Friday night only"
  14. Leverage the distribution of your partners as best you can. The smaller the partner, the easier it will be. Get the ball rolling, then go after the bigger guys.
  15. A big part of this will be virality (that a word? Spellcheck says nay!). Engage with your community and encourage readers to tag your page on Instagram with their weekly meal creations. 
  16. Allow users to 'earn credits' by referring friends.

Skill Builder

// A byte of information to build your skill set

Influence.

Getting people on your team is a huge part of becoming a successful founder. No great business was ever built by one person only.

Having the ability to influence people means you're able to get them on the same trajectory as you.

Lots of people are quick to gawk at this, but influencing others is something we do every single day - conscious of it or not. Whether you do it ethically and morally or not is your perogative.

Here are 5 quick tips for influencing people:

  1. Use people's names. There's no sound sweeter to our ears than our own name.
  2. Use reciprocity principle as a bargaining tool. Make the first move and offer something to the other person: "I bought an extra Coke on the way here, thought you might like it." They'll feel obliged to reciprocate - which can play in your favour in a negotiation.
  3. Use non-aggressive, but confident body language. Smile. Uncross your arms. Relax your face.
  4. Be likeable. Find common points of interest in conversation. Do research prior if necessary. We like people who are similar to us.
  5. Listen properly. Then empathize: "I understand that x, y, z are your issues. Let's work out a solution to fix those."

More reading on the topic:

  • Influence by Robert Cialdini
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

From the Founder's Mouth

// A valuable piece of advice from someone who's done it before

Not a traditional founder, but sound (excuse the oncoming pun) advice nonetheless from David Bowie:

“If you feel safe in the area you're working in, you're not working in the right area. 

Always go a little further into the water than you feel you're capable of being in. 

Go a little bit out of your depth."
 
David Bowie - World famous musician

Coach's Corner

// Something you can do right now to improve your business

Reach out to an early customer.

Ask detailed questions:

  • What makes your business valuable to them?
  • Why did they choose your business over another?
  • What can you do to make their experience better?
  • What was the worst part about their experience with your business?

Address those issues (if any) and email that customer when you've resolved them. Use the insights wisely.

Repeat every single week with someone new.

Plant the seeds of success every single day. You never know which will grow into something big.

Clickworthy

// Valuable tidbits from around the interweb

🧨 20 Growth Marketing Hacks to get to your first 100 customers.

🚫 This is a super valuable thread from Gagan Biyani (Udemy founder) on the failure story of Sprig - a company which raised $60 million in funding and was doing $20 million AR.

🗨️ Here's a huge collection of pitch decks from companies around the world including Airbnb and Intercom.

// Would a summarized version of what every pitch deck should include be valuable? If I get fifty "Yes" replies to this email I'll do it for next week.

💵 Ever wondered how to price your product? Here's a take on how to monetize your product effectively by choosing your pricing before you've got your product. Interesting.