Simplicity Principle I: Solving Problems and Getting Paid     

        How Do Take an Idea to the Floor?

Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come. That’s not how things work, but there’s a ton of online resources that would point you otherwise.

“Demand” is one of those buzzwords that economists love, but the rest of us hate to hear. It just doesn’t resonate with those that aren’t super-duper into business trends. It is a word that’s important to understand. What is it, and why the heck do you care?

So, the ‘official’ text, from Wikipedia is, “Demand is a buyer’s willingness and ability to pay a price for a specific quantity of a good or service.”

Now we’re on to something: Willingness and Ability.

These two factors of our Side-Stream are ULTRA IMPORTANT. You won’t earn if you’re not taking both into account.

I’ve made this mistake plenty of times before, and spent over $500 on ideas that have no merit and will NEVER earn a cent.

Why won’t the idea earn?

Demand is two-dimensional. Without both dimensions, without willingness and ability to pay, buyers are bystanders.

When you start offering a service, it’s really important that you understand what clients pay for. Businesses that earn provide solutions to problems, but that doesn’t mean all solutions are created equal.

For example, as a graphic artist, I can sell a redesign of a Bodega’s banner that sits over their store.



But would they pay me for it? Heck no. Able, maybe. Willing, not a chance.

In fact, I’ve tried this business approach a number of times. They don’t want to pay for that solution – it’s not a serious enough problem. “How does a new sign help me again?”

Guess what though – if I offered to do the work for free, they were all about it. Willingness wasn’t concrete, and that was one strike against me earning. This isn’t baseball either. One strike is enough to kick me off the plate.


What changes between us wanting something and us being willing to pay for it?

The bodega wasn’t interested in my service. Do you know what he said to me?

“Unless you can improve the square footage of my store, I don’t want it.”

You see I made a big mistake.

The answer to his problem wasn’t in the product I was offering, and it wasn’t my skills or pitch that he didn’t like. I didn’t offer him a solution to his problem. When someone is paying for your soon-to-be-service, who do they care about most?


They don’t care about your business and your life, not your house or mortgage, just themselves and their problems.

So, don’t be shocked to hear that most people get turned away when they approach business opportunities. Why?

They go in with their hufflepuff chest out, talk about what they do, how well it works, and why you should be paying them.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, people want to pay for solutions.


If sales require solutions, solutions require information about the problems.

If you know the problems, and have the solution, you can now position yourself to supply a client what they are already looking for. It’s like having the answers in the back of the book!

Your job, then, is to get the information that will allow you to create a solution that you know people want.

What information are you looking for?

The key to any good business is to find a niche. Another buzzword, GREAAAAT. But it’s true to every extent – in order to make sure there is demand for you and your Side-Stream you need to know WHO the heck you are working for.

“Everyone” is not an acceptable answer. That’s too broad.

What is a niche?

Think of a niche as an empty auditorium. You’re about to deliver a speech. Who fills those chairs? That’s your niche.

Are they 25 year olds with dogs, or 50 year olds recently divorced?

When we analyze our business, whether you’re going to be an assistant, or a coach, or a google calendar experts, those all have different audiences.

So maybe you’re working on a Side-Stream, but it’s not going well so far, or maybe you’re working on ideas. Wherever you are, we can always improve your strategy together.

Time for Practice with this! (download the Who Am I Selling To? Worksheet at the bottom)




Customer Worksheet

I want you to sit down with a piece of paper. Draw yourself a person in the center of it. Don’t worry if your person doesn’t look like mine. Stick figures work just as well! On the right side, we’re going to describe the person that would want our service.

Use descriptive words. For example, if I were going to set up a business where I would come to your home and decorate your place. If I had to describe the person that I would sell this SOLUTION to, I would work through it like this, keeping in mind that I’m focused on the WILLINGNESS and ABILITY to pay.


I would NOT pick college kids, they are unable to pay, and I would NOT pick senior citizens, they are unwilling to pay. My client would need to have some money that’s disposable, so maybe entry-level would be appropriate. Too old and they don’t care about having a cool place. So maybe I’m looking for a person that has some disposable income, probably single and looking to build décor to impress.

Maybe that’s not perfect, but I’ve atleast developed what most would call a Customer Avatar, or A User Story. I think those sound nerdy. I just call it a sketch, cause I use drawings, pens and markers. Call it what you want, but do it. <Hint: We’ll cover Customer Avatars again really soon!>

Demand comes from addressing a problem. I haven’t done that yet. So let’s look at what this customer sketch “needs;” the left side of the drawing.

Young, single, with extra income, our client needs to WOW someone when they enter. They need to present themselves well, and they need to maintain that they are probably sophisticated, educated, and have a little bit of personality. Why?

I would venture to say for attention. But since I can’t come up with the answers except to guess, what’s my next move?

Why Demand is Elusive for 99% of Business

Since all I can do is guess about the needs of the ideal client that I have, I will need to discover if there is in fact a need at all before I get into this business. The only way to do that is to take the time to ask. I can search online, I can find places where my sketches hang out, I can find friends that fit my market, and just ask questions. If you’re looking for a jumping off point of what to ask, here’s two questions that you can spin to this type of inquiry.


The bottom line to this approach is that you take the time to really sort out if the business has any merit. Would you spend $600 on all kinds of pots and pans and skillets and spices if you didn’t know how to cook? Probably not, but people have that approach to business ALL the time.

Maybe you’re not at an idea yet. If that’s the case, you can start here:

Here’s a great list from SideHustleNation of 79 ideas.

Ramit Sethi talks about this concept of idea generation SUPER well.

But I emplore you to NOT do what most people do!!

Skip the business cards, skip the marketing website and flyers and facebook page. Just focus on the one principle of demand: Do people want it? Use a cheatcode, find out before you do your business, and save yourself time and money.

Any business that’s going to be successful needs a “who.” What I mean by this is that you need to know your audience. Can you change it later, yes, but when you’re starting to narrow down what you can do to earn, it’s important that you know WHO WOULD BUY.  When you talk to someone and they mention the word demand, from now on, I want you to say this to yourself:


Demand Equals the WHO that will buy, and the WHY they will buy.


Work on your sketch as you build your Side-Stream, and even if you have one already, and you’ll start to see trends in things you might have missed.


Describe your Who? What does your client sketch look like?


Download the worksheet here and get started!

Who am I selling to Image


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