How to brainstorm great business ideas
Courtland Allen’s framework for finding business ideas worth building + my learnings from running my first Google Ads campaign.
Welcome to this week’s edition of What The Product, where I share actionable insights on building and growing products.
1. Personal Update
I’m experimenting with different marketing channels for FlowGo (our Webflow development service).
Last week I immersed myself in the world of Google Ads. This has been my first proper Ads campaign.
A few learnings so far:
Budget matters. I’ve set mine to a measly $10 day and woke up to crickets. Setting it to $100 did the trick for me. This will depend on your keywords of course.
Set your negative keywords. This will save you a ton of poorly targeted traffic. For me, this was removing exact matches for “webflow“ or “is webflow good“ etc.
Set conversion tracking. I’m tracking calls booked and subscriptions purchased. This helps Google optimize your ads.
It takes time. As you can see from the graph above, it took time before traffic picked up. Budget was the main culprit, but it also took 2 days for my ads to get approved in the first places
No conversions…yet. Will keep this running for a while and report back.
2. Actionable Insight
Courtland Allen, founder of Indie Hackers wrote a great piece on how to brainstorm great business ideas:
Problem first, solution last
Your product should be the last thing you come up with.
If you start with a product you are likely building a solution in search of a problem.
You can build anything - products are the most flexible things to change about your business. Problems, distribution, and markets are much harder to change.
It’s impossible to design an excellent tool for a job if you don’t understand the job.
How to identify a good problem
Many people have it.
The people are easily identifiable as a group (developers, product managers, teachers, etc.).
It’s a frequent problem.
It’s better if the problem is a growing one.
Most importantly – it’s a valuable problem, e.g. people pay money to solve it.
A simple trick is to start by looking where people are already spending lots of time and money and go from there.
Money changing hands is almost always a sign that there’s a valuable problem being solved. – Courtland Allen
Fatal mistakes to avoid
Starting with a solution in mind
Attachment to a solution ruins your ability to find opportunities objectively.
Ruling out already-solved problems
Unsolved problems are also likely to be problems not worth solving. If people are already using a solution, it’s worth solving.
Being afraid to solve high-value problems
It’s harder to sell cheap things because people care less.
Not having a specific customer in mind
Waiting to see who’ll be the best customer for your product is similar to starting with the solution. If it’s for everyone, it’s mediocre at best for everyone.
Key takeaway: Product ideas are not business ideas. Start with understanding the business opportunity, then generate product ideas.
Read the full piece here.
3. Resources & Templates
Max from Startup & VC shares how they’ve added a whopping 40k clicks to their job board by leveraging Google’s Structured Markup.
📗 You can learn AI later from Jason Fried (Basecamp founder)
Much hype around AI these days. I’m hooked too. I play around with ChatGPT and all its off-shoots to the point where I’m not getting anything done.
Jason has a great point. It’s cool to play around with it to get a feel. But there’s no reason to get consumed by it, to pay for “expert“ courses, to change your career and become a prompt engineer.
But become a master at once or you're going to lose your job to some AI expert? Nah. That's pure FUD. The stuff that everyone's talking about is barely 6 months old — there are no experts, there are just people playing experts on the internet.
That’s it for this week.
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