Could you launch a million-dollar business this weekend?
You might remember Noah Kagan from Episode 237 about brainstorming and validating business ideas.
Throughout our conversation, we brainstormed numerous side hustle business ideas that listeners could pursue this year.
Noah also shared his insights on idea validation, launching quickly, and much more.
Tune in to Episode 595 of The Side Hustle Show to learn:
- How to quickly validate and launch a side hustle idea
- Multiple promising side hustle concepts to pursue in 2024
- The importance of pre-selling a product idea before building it
- Why services businesses make for promising first side hustles
- Actionable tips for overcoming “analysis paralysis” and launching faster
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Validating and Launching Shrimp Breeding
I asked Noah how he comes up with some of his unique business ideas like shrimp breeding.
Noah explained that many ideas come from simply paying attention to the content you consume and products you use.
For example, there is a guy called Dustin’s Fish Tanks, a YouTube channel by a guy who reviews fish tanks and now makes over $1 million per year.
He began by reviewing fish tanks, but it soon turned into him making his own and selling them.
The key is to reverse engineer where current trends and interests lie based on how you spend your time and money.
You can also review your credit card statements to spark ideas. AppSumo was born out of Noah’s desire to get deals on tools he was already buying.
Ultimately, the best test for an idea is to validate it directly with paying customers. Noah outlined a simple process for doing this:
- Listen to the customer’s needs (ask questions to understand needs/frustrations)
- Suggest an Option to solve their problem
- Transition to asking for the sale or next step commitment
For example, Noah is exploring a DocuSign alternative (which is valued at $11 billion) because e-signatures cost him $30 monthly.
His team vets ideas using these criteria:
- Virality – Does it lend itself to word-of-mouth growth?
- Subscription Competition – Are people already paying subscriptions for this regularly?
- Excitement – How fired up are you personally about the idea?
- Million Dollar Potential – Is there a path to $1M in profit over the years?
This framework led them to create “AppSumo Originals” which are tools like:
Rather than reinvent the wheel, model what already works and make it better like Noah does.
If the customer says no, you can ask for referrals to find better qualified prospects. Stick with one idea initially until you have 100 paying customers. Don’t jump around constantly chasing shiny objects.
Launching Side Hustle Ideas
Here are some other key takeaways from Noah on quickly validating and launching side hustle ideas:
- Don’t overthink ideas – The best idea is the one you start. You’ll inevitably repeat.
- Look at trends – Monitor Google Trends and other sites to assess demand. Avoid dying or declining industries.
- Estimate the market size – Check Facebook audience sizes and spending data. Ask ChatGPT for estimates of customer counts and spending on competitors.
- Practice starting – Challenge yourself to start something new daily, even if tiny. Example, ask someone for $1 just to get used to taking action.
- Deliver first, then expand – Resist the urge to constantly change course. Stick to an idea once it gains initial traction.
It’s important to avoid analysis paralysis and just put yourself out there. Build momentum around ideas that show early promise.
Building Your Dream 10 List
You may have a great business concept, but how do you efficiently validate whether real customers actually want it?
Noah recommends creating what he calls a “Dream List” as the first step in testing demand.
The Dream 10 is a list of 10 ideal customers who would highly benefit from your offering. This forces you to get clear on your target customer profile beyond “everyone.”
Some easy ways to build your list:
Scroll through the past couple years of emails in Gmail or Outlook and flag any contacts related to your concept.
For example, if you had a document signing service, you’d search for instances of DocuSign.
Note your professional services providers like lawyers, accountants, agencies etc. and contacts who could validate demand.
The key is quickly compiling a list of 10 people receptive to your idea to reach out for feedback rather than trying to validate more broadly. It may feel uncomfortable reaching out at first, but it is necessary to overcome assumptions.
Starting with Services
When diving into a new business idea, our natural inclination is to start building a product like a mobile app or web software platform.
However, most successful side hustlers take a more strategic approach initially by offering services first.
Some benefits of kicking off with services:
Lower Barriers to Entry
You may only need a website, scheduling software, and marketing materials to get started.
Because services are sold on a recurring basis (hourly, monthly retainers, etc.), you get paid continually as you deliver value rather than waiting months or years for product development.
This positive feedback loop also helps fund product creation down the road.
Better Customer Insights
Every client you work with gives future product insights from their unique problems and desired outcomes.
Over time you can identify common themes to integrate as features that meet the widest range of needs.
Pre-Selling the Idea
Before spending significant time or money building a product, entrepreneurs should pre-sell it.
Noah shared an example where his team spent 6 months building a Klaviyo alternative called MeetFam. But after launching, they struggled to attract customers.
That’s why he recommends first selling the product concept before ever building it. He outlined 3 options to test demand:
- Pre-Sales Outreach – Directly pitch your network through outreach.
- Marketplace Listings – Post the product for sale on platforms like Craigslist and Facebook to gauge interest.
- Paid Ads – Create a landing page and run ads promoting the product.
Noah prefers the first approach of pre-sales outreach because it’s faster and you get real money in your pocket.
His goal would be to secure $2,500 in pre-sales to confirm the concept and cover initial development costs.
Customers understand you need time to deliver the final product after payment.
I noted this “pre-sell then build” approach has proven successful for many entrepreneurs and big brands. For example, Tesla sold reservations years before ever manufacturing their mainstream vehicles.
Overcoming Service Business Growing Pains
Transitioning from solopreneur to having employees is tempting but tricky.
Noah highlights Adam Gilbert who bootstrapped My Body Tutor, a 7-figure online fitness coaching company, as proof it’s possible.
Adam coached all his clients personally for many years assuming nobody could match his level of service.
Despite assumptions that no other coach could match his level of personalization and results, Adam finally decided to test hiring help a few years back.
By finding coaches with similar values, My Body Tutor was able to expand its customer base dramatically.
Now Adam is able to focus more time on fine-tuning the company’s training processes and team rather than direct client delivery.
The key is finding team members who share your vision rather than complete replacements.
More Side Hustle Ideas
Here are more side hustle ideas that listeners could pursue:
Become a Software Consultant
Build an agency around popular platforms like Notion, Shopify etc. You can sell training and custom implementations. Thomas Frank earns over $2 million selling Notion templates.
Help people maneuver and expedite cumbersome visa processes, especially for popular digital nomad destinations.
Christmas Lights Installation
Provide Christmas lights installation, removal, and storage services for homes and businesses.
Upscale Nanny Placement
Place qualified nannies with families seeking childcare. Focus on reliability and trust.
Build a cheaper alternative to the $11 billion e-signature company DocuSign. Pre-sell it first to prove demand.
Guest Booking for Podcasts and Shows
If you have a way to book high-profile guests, Noah is willing to pay up to $20,000 to land certain billionaires.
Accountability Goal Services
Help clients achieve personal and professional goals via financial incentives and accountability coaching. A good example is HealthyWage’s monetary goal achievement model to encourage people to lose weight.
Pre-Mixed Coffee Protein Drinks
Launch pre-made coffee mixed with protein powder or collagen to simplify morning routines.
I’m energized by the sheer range of promising concepts Noah shared off the cuff. It reminds all of us not to fixate on any one rigid approach to side hustling. Opportunities abound if you experiment broadly.
Noah’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation
“Now, not how.”
- Are you chasing mice or antelopes? Don’t put the same effort into small payoff activities versus big vision projects.
- Piggyback on rising interests and platforms like TikTok, Shopify, Notion etc. rather than reinvent the wheel to drive demand.
- Pre-sell a minimum viable version of your idea before expending months of effort attempting to build a perfect finished product. Let the market guide your priorities.
- Initially provide hands-on services to start making money faster, gain expertise, and better understand customer needs. Worry about packaging them into products later.
- Side Hustle Show Episode 237
- The Noah Kagan Youtube channel
- Noah Kagan Presents podcast
- Million Dollar Weekend: The Surprisingly Simple Way to Launch a 7-Figure Business in 48 Hours.
- Dustin’s Fish Tanks
- AppSumo Originals
- My Body Tutor
- Thomas Frank
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- Download The Side Hustle Show. My free podcast shares how to make extra money with actionable weekly episodes.