Learning business building — Part 1

Since the middle of June, I decided I would learn what it takes to kickstart an idea (even a simple one) into a business. Geared with a lot of theory that was rarely taken into practice the plan is (and was) to get real life experience of the process.

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich

This way I can better understand what are founders going through, learn how to help them and earn enough to at least cover the expenses of working on these ideas.

I intentionally picked smaller ideas that don’t need a big initial investment. Based on the book “The 4 hour workweek”, some articles and starting an idea guide by Ryan Robinson, I decided to start with “First 20h of guitar”.

1# Idea: First 20h of guitar

Link: http://prvih20urkitare.si

What is it?

It’s a PDF course for learning how to play a guitar in 20h, by letting the user select a song they want to learn, teaching only essentials and setting deadline with a show for someone.

What I did:

  • Keyword research

Using google adWords tools i researched organic traffic on the keywords. Googled a number of keywords and took notes of the results.

  • Persona research

Calling out on Facebook for first users and analysing them (10 people). Had some interviews with 4 potential users (I should have interview second level connections or further). Defined my persona based on the initial idea outline and insights. Prepared product one liner pitch based on persona’s needs and wants.

  • Setting a Wordpress landing page based on the above and writing additional copy
  • Shaping the product and testing with 1 user

What should be next steps?

  • Posting physical ads to find students.
  • Finishing the course.
  • Test it partially in person with a few students and improve the text version.
  • Do SEO optimisation of the page — SSL, Meta Tags, Analytics, getting myself into articles on as many 3rd party pages as possible.
  • Find an appropriate influencer and teach that person using existing course.
  • Setting up FB testing ads for generating landing page visits and gathering mailing list.
  • Setting up google testing adss for generating landing page visits and gathering mailing list.
  • Start preparing video tutorial version of the course.

Comment:

This is where I got with this product. For now it’s on hold as I’m working also on other projects like reka-kolpa.si that showed more promise at the time. Reason is I also didn’t feel enough passion for it and less proof of validation.

2# Idea: River Kolpa

Link: http://reka-kolpa.si

What is it?

As a base, website is providing real time information on temperature of the water in multiple villages and camps where you can go for a swim. As an addition on the website we would offer to design your vacation near river kolpa by booking local experiences offered.

What I did:

Solved my own problem of searching for river’s temperature

  • Set up WP site,
  • patched up basic visual design,
  • added scraper for pulling data from government site with bad UX
  • Wrote some Javascript to calculate temperature for a few other places that were not measured

SEO optimisation

  • Installed analytics
  • Added meta tags and descriptions
  • Optimized page performance
  • Bought SSL certificate
  • Managed to get the site into 3 articles of a local news website (important backlinks)
  • Added my site to Wikipedia about kolpa (backlink)

User interviews started

  • List of camps was prepared
  • 2 interviews with camp owners/managers
  • Interview with Director of a Tourist information centre
  • 2 interviews with kolpa visitors (way too little)
  • Gave out small flyers with short explanation what does the website do and a link (like business cards) — attached them to windshields on a parking lot

Set up of Kolpa experiences with two fake offerings that I wanted to test for conversions

  • Up until now there were 30 views but no conversions (5days since set up)

What should be next steps?

  • Set up a few Kolpa experience offers.
  • Do more interviews with users. — Would need to define multiple personas visiting Kolpa.
  • Test prototype of design my Kolpa vacation. — Paper prototype was prepared similar to how trello cards work so I would test using prefilled Trello board.
  • Try to sell the offer to the user after the interview.
  • Online advertising of Kolpa adventures to see the conversion rate.
  • Try to sell either the tool or offers to an existing agency that sells tourist trips.
  • Based on feedback proceed.

Comment:

At the moment website had about 2500 visits since July 31st. Big spike was at the publishing of the articles and average of 25 views per day on the usual days.

3# Idea: Digital assistants Triglav

Link: https://www.facebook.com/Digital-assistants-Triglav-1712918822338270

What is it?

Digital remote assistant service offering support for Slovenian Digital Nomads that need some support in Slovenia or an assistant that knows slovenian language.

What I did:

  • Keyword research using google adWords tools

Googled a number of keywords and took notes of the results. Looked at their statistics in keyword analysis tool in google adWords.

  • Quick copywriting session and designed the base banner
  • Built Fb Page
  • Prepared Ad for a Facebook campaign
  • Ran the campaign fo 1 week targeted on London as the first test

What should be next steps?

  • Do updates on the ad content and service offering.
  • Test it with a few Target audience people I know or that almost fit the persona.
  • Do a few retargeting tests.
  • Write a few articles on remote support for “Company’s” Medium Publication.

Comment:

This was all done in 1 day (+ 5 days of running the campaign) to test and see how quickly can i make one iteration on an idea and to test Facebook ads and see how they are set up.

4# Idea: Mysteries of Bela krajina interactive game

What is it?

Escape room in Bela krajina built combining local history, myths and stories, featuring local products. Providing education, fun and promotion of local products at the same time.

Comment:

This is a recently started project that came out of interviews for reka-kolpa.si as I noticed the biggest issue is reliability of local experience and product providers. They are not actors, sometimes don’t engage, do more of other daily stuff. With that I decided to try and set up Escape room as a starting point to present Bela krajina and with it promote the rest of the experiences available.

Currently:

  • In research of local history and having meetings with historians.
  • Searching for the team.
  • Building the plan (Persona research, marketing approach, funding,…)

Recap of my learnings since I started

  • How to analyse existing demand online using google ads tools.
  • Initial tests should be done on second level connections and you get them by reaching out online to your friends.
  • How to build a wordpress website and set it up online.
  • I trained myself to become more effective rather than efficient by always doing the next most impactful thing. It’s being disciplined and not doing the most impactful thing is bing mentally lazy.
  • I learned also that you can’t do most impactful tasks all day without a good motivation and time restraint (not if your value is measured per hour instead of per effectiveness).
  • Sometimes it’s hard to do the most impactful task so we distract ourselves with less important stuff.
  • We are all biased and even though we heard a 100 times that you need to test and question, when we go and do it ourselves we still need a self appointed guard to keep reminding us and ad bounce ideas and thoughts.

I’m lacking in sales, marketing and copywriting

During all this work I noticed I’m lacking in sales skills and that’s why I’m looking for some sales training and just finished reading a book “To sell is human”. — I will be recapping my insights of that book in the next article next week!

Why Sales especially?

Sales skill is very important when trying to validate the idea. Before setting company for scale you need to do stuff that don’t scale and also best way to validate is to sell.