As mentioned last week, the regular programming of the Signal has moved to a bi—weekly schedule to allow me to focus more on the Build A Business segment, where I’m building a business in real time.
So, this week is a super-quick action packed summary of 7 half-baked business ideas for you to pick apart. Feel free to discuss, criticize and be cynical in the comments!
Idea 1: A better version of Substack.
I have absolutely zero doubt that if you did this properly, you’d make money from it.
There are so many content creators out there who are looking for and asking questions about newsletter platforms. For simple purposes, Substack is by far the best, but so ready for a new player to enter the market. You’d just have to do exactly what Substack does and offer a few extra features:
Custom domain and hosting
Better pricing structure
Super simple editor (Substack does this pretty well)
Vastly better analytics
Interface/marketplace for attracting sponsors
Conversion tracking for paid ads
Improved discover-ability/search-ability. Currently as a creator, distribution is entirely up to you. You have to come to Substack with an audience, or build one. And they don’t make building one easy, because of the lack of features as listed above.
Idea 2: New employee onboarding repo.
This stems from a problem we’re facing in our company now as we are rapidly expanding and bringing in new team members.
When you're onboarding a new employee, one of the best things they can do to get a sense of projects on the go, and things in the pipeline is to read old email threads that are appropriate.
You quickly pick up:
- Who's involved,
- Who the key stakeholders are,
- Where the bottle necks are,
- Project progress,
- What should be happening next.
So, the idea is to setup repo's/knowledge bases for new hires, before you start hiring them.
Then, when they start, you give them access to those folders, and they can be 100% in the loop about any projects, and pick up old conversations where they need to be restarted.
It also gives them an idea for company culture and communication policy. Can be used for any role, not just biz dev.
Idea 3: Craigslist arbitrage.
If you know a little bit more than the average person about a physical product you could use the "We buy your car for cash" model in any vertical on Craigslist (some work better than others). Here's how I'd do it:
You crawl the specific vertical you're targeting for deals and reach out to every single one of the posters if there is a good deal on the table (you need to understand what a good deal is). Offer them a much lower price and say you'll organise pick up and pay cash.
This will work better on older posts. When you offer them a price, give them a clear breakdown of how you came to that price. Be specific and meticulous. The model is simple: Buy low, sell higher. So only choose deals you're confident you can do this for.
There may be specific niches where there's a little bit of work required in between those steps. Look for places where a little bit of work adds a lot of value. Like refurbing old film camera's. Might be super easy to do (I don't know) but adds a ton of value.
Also consider niches where there's a social status element. What could you buy cheap, and sell for a lot more because it represents something that society see's as "cool". Vintage clothing/sneakers?
Furniture is another one (not in the "cool" niche) I can think of straight away. You could buy old furniture, do a very quick refurb (sand, strip, varnish/paint or whatevers required) and then sell to people looking to setup a home office.
The trick is staying patient and waiting for the right deals. Setup an alert for certain keywords and price points on Craigslist, Gumtree, Facebook etc and stay patient. You can also learn some good skills along the way!
Idea 4: First time home-owner furniture.
My brother just bought and moved into his first house. What blew my mind was how expensive it is to furnish a house. A solution that makes this easier and cheaper as a package will do well.
It would be like Ikea assemble-yourself furniture, but completely curated and high-quality. Built for longevity, the only thing that is required is assemble. That's what makes it cheaper. Cost is reduced by reducing man-hours required in assembly.
The curated side would basically offer a whole look and feel for your house and say "Take package A" and pair it with house plants, deep grey colours and accents of yellow and burgundy.
Idea 5: Product Hunt for startup ideas.
If you’re a part of this newsletter, you know all too well how important it is to properly validate a business idea before you pursue it. That’s the thesis of this idea.
As a way of validating ideas, people can upvote/downvote and provide an email address to find out more. Add features that you need to validate an idea - almost like an open business plan.
Everyone's going to shout at me and say, "Well everyone is just going to shop here for ideas and steal mine". To that, I'm going to (imperfectly) reply with a favourite quote of mine from Alfred N. Whitehead: "Ideas won't keep; something must be done about them" .
Idea 6: Company culture diary.
Again, along the vein of new company hires…
When you're looking to hire people, you need to find a culture fit. The best way to give potential employee's a look into what kind of company they're joining is to give them a look into the collective "brain" of your company.
The product here would be a SaaS app that essentially runs as a diary of a startup. Includes:
An ancillary benefit would be being able to bolt it onto a pitch deck: "These are the people you're buying into, and this is our vision".
Another would be the ability to be collectively "mindful" about your company's situation: How are we straying from our founding hypothesis, beliefs and culture? What parts of our younger days have we lost?
Idea 7: Referral system for newsletters.
Referrals are one of the best ways to grow a newsletter. But they’re super hard to implement. The Hustle and Morning Brew have both had great success with their referral systems (and they both have over a million subs each). But they’re both custom-built.
So the idea would be a drop in Saas that integrates with MC, Revue, Substack, Ghost, Mailerlite etc. Geared towards early stage newsletters/creators so: Pay-per-referral model for a starter plan up to 10 referrals/month.