Needs versus Wants

I’ve been spending time over the last few weeks digging into how I do things. How I negotiate proposals. How I set my rates. How I decide what to work on. What it is that I do. What it is that I want to do. Despite claiming that I know what I want to be when I grow up, I’m constantly asking myself if what I’m doing matters to the world or to me. So I’ve spent a lot of time lately listening to experts in podcasts and presentations about the presenters’ theories on what the important tasks are. Universally, it’s proven to me that my default behaviours are the wrong ones.

Lets take Live a Richer Life, for example. In this session, Ramit Sethi talks about his repeatable process for finding “Shut up and take my money” businesses. His thoughts boiled down into a few ‘simple’ tasks:

  1. front load the work: 80% of getting a product to market should be research into your customers. Key to that research are:
    • Are they able to pay and do they have a history of paying for things
    • Can you speak the words they use to describe the problem they are having
    • Can you speak the words they use to describe they’re future (what they want to be)

Once you have all that, then you’re ready to begin crafting the product. Write all that down in a playbook so that when you loose your way in the minutia, you have something to come back to to remind you what you’re doing and why.

  1. Master the craft: Work at learning the skills you need. You can’t learn them overnight so start small, rinse and repeat. Don’t try to develop a $2000 info-product first. Develop a free e-book to fatten your mailing list to develop your process for finding customers. But the craft isn’t another flashy web page or a pretty pdf. The craft is getting in front of people. Asking good questions. Listening to the answers. Writing content that answer those customers questions. Writing content to resonates with your customers because it uses their language (the playbook).

  2. Work at the process: once you’ve developed and proven your process. Work at it. Do it over and over.

As we build out dayhomeregistry.com, my first reaction is to start deep into a new node.js mobile site for ipad. That’s what I know. What I need to do is to sit down, talk to some customers, develop a profile of hopes, fears and language for each. I need to develop programs and products that speak to those. Then I need to advertise the $%&# out of them. Maybe then I can worry about a flash new client side app.

Take another example. Brennan Dunn, of doubleyourfreelancing.com spent well over an hour the other day going over his socratic questioning technique to drive to the very same things that Ramit talked about in his front loading (you might be able to see it here). Brennan talks about listening, about identifying the trigger of the problem, of listening to how painful that problem is. He takes it once step further and gets his potential customers to quantify how painful that problem is in $ terms. But fundamentally, he is talking about the same thing. Listen to your potential customers and learn how to be the silver bullet they’re looking for. Then the cost of your solutions is much lower in the conversation.

While I claim to be an entrepreneur, really without getting good at this process, I’m just a wantrepreneur. I say I want to be good at this game, but I’m not putting in the time to get any good at it. At the end of the day I want to know that I’m good at something. Really good at something. And to get there, I really need to hunker down and learn to be good at the things I need to do, not the things I’m comfortable doing. Time to put on the big boy pants and get to work. So if you see me twiddling with CSS, smack me…I have more important things to do.


Jon Holt

A coach, an entrepreneur, and a no-bull advisor in growing small businesses through the use of practical strategy, light-weight governance and sitting back and thinking about running your business, regardless of what you do.

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