Find Your Niche Market Part 1

Photo Credit: Massimo Barbieri

For most people the biggest barrier to getting started with an online business is that they either don’t have an idea or they have way too many ideas.

Contrary to popular belief, your online business idea doesn’t need to be revolutionary. You just have to be able to deliver value that customers will pay for.

There are so many potential markets out there – how do you pick the right market to target?


First Step – Figure out what you are good at.

Start with what you know.

What markets do you belong to already?
Example: You are a student, you worked in real estate, etc.

What hobbies do you have?
Example: Fishing, karate, etc.


Here is a helpful exercise: (borrowed from Ramit Sethi’s very useful Idea Generator Tool)

Write down your top 5 skills – This is resume type stuff. What could you teach people?
The skills don’t have to be unique, they just have to be marketable.
Example: You know how to program in PHP.

Write down your top 5 strengths – what do other people tell you you’re good at?
For more help on this check out the book: Now, Discover You Strengths.
Example: You are good at organizing.

Write down your top 5 interests – What do you read for fun? What do you do on a Saturday afternoon?
Example: You like to practice martial arts.


Second Step – Figure out what people will pay for.

Don’t swim upstream.

Don’t try to change peoples’ behavior, it is very difficult. Trying to convince someone that they should be saving X$ extra each month by not drinking coffee is damn near impossible. Instead go to where your customers are.

Put yourself in the mind of your potential customer.

  • What problems are they actively trying to find solutions for?
  • What have they already tried to fix it?
  • How can you solve their problems?

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be an uber-expert to provide value and help people. You just have to know more than your customers. Your abilities and service will improve over time.

For any potential market it is critical to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do they have the ability to pay me?
  2. Do they have the willingness to pay me?

Bad market example: Designing websites for a non-profit organizations. They probably don’t have the ability to pay you well.

Good market example: Designing websites for real estate agents looking to gain more clients. They are willing to pay you to increase their client base, and they are able to pay you well.

You are looking for the intersection of your interests/skills/strengths and market demand.

If the target market doesn’t care about your product, you can be the best in the world and you still won’t make any money.


Pick 3 marketable ideas that match up with your abilities and in Find Your Niche Market Part 2 you will narrow down your market to a profitable niche.

Beating Fear To Meeting Tim Ferriss In Person

The Four Hour Body Launch Party in NYC was a blast.

I drove by myself 3.5 hours to NYC not knowing anyone there. I stood outside in line for an hour in 18 degree Farenheit cold.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.


I got to meet Tim Ferriss in person and thank him for transforming my life from average to awesome in under a year. Just before college graduation I read the 4 Hour Workweek and in the 8 months since then I developed an online muse related to college exams which now averages $2,000 income per month and I’m down to 30 minutes of work per day.

Next I told Tim how because of him I am going to take a mini-retirement to Thailand in February and Tim recommended I check out the island of Koh Samet. It was only 30 seconds that I got to talk to Tim because he was swamped with people, but it was still an amazing experience.

But I almost didn’t make it to the 4 Hour Body launch party. None of my friends could go with me because of school or work and I didn’t know anyone who was going to be at the event.

I had all these excuses in my head why I couldn’t go to the 4 Hour Body launch party: I’ve never been there before. It’s too far. What if I get lost? It is really cold out. I’ll be all alone. What if no one there likes me?

That was the lizard brain hard at work trying to keep me in my comfort zone (a topic for another post).


How did I ever make it to the launch party with all these mental barriers and fears in the way?

Just like Tim Ferriss says in The 4 Hour Workweek: Conquering Fear = Defining Fear

I defined my fears one by one and gave a possible solution:

  • I don’t know how to get there -> Borrow my friends GPS.
  • It is really far -> Leave an hour and a half earlier.
  • I don’t know anyone -> Start talking to people in line.
  • It might be really cold -> Bring a coat.

If these fears actually happened what negative impact (1-10 scale) would they have on my life? Maybe a temporary 2 or 3.


And what was the flipside – the impact of a potential positive outcome? Likely a 9 or 10 positive impact on my life.

When am I ever going to get another opportunity to meet Tim Ferriss and Ramit Sethi in person? Possibly never.


After analyzing the likely worst possible scenario and the likely positive outcomes it was blatantly clear I needed to go.

The power of fear is in uncertainty – when you define your fears and mental barriers they lose most of their power over you.


And what actually happened at the Four Hour Body Launch Party? Some of my fears came true, but most didn’t.

I got lost walking around NYC for a few minutes but then asked someone for directions and I found the event right after that. It was really damn cold outside. Several people commented on my Vibram FiveFingers which although very comfortable and great conversation starters are not winter friendly. My toes were numb after standing outside for an hour in line.

My biggest anxiety that I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to was way off base. I didn’t end up alone and, in addition to Tim, I met a lot of really cool people at the 4 Hour Body Launch Party, including:

  • David Orlando Hincapie – he manages his own commercial cleaning business based out of Philadelphia, and he was featured on
  • Tito Perez, who is David’s friend and runs a photography business in Philadelphia.
  • Kenneth, the owner of the NYC health club where Tim’s 4 Hour Body Kettlebell videos were filmed
  • Bethany, the aspiring NYC actress who was featured in several movies and theater productions
  • Michael, the Videographer from Illinois who was contracted by Tim Ferriss to film the event

Not to mention I also got to meet Ramit Sethi in person as well as other members of the Earn1K program (which I am part of).

” What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” – Tim Ferriss

Ideas Are Overrated

People always think that their online business has to be some big huge world changing idea. If I hear one more person say how their idea is going to be the next Facebook I am going to punch them in the face.

The sad truth is that most ideas aren’t very good. Ramit Sethi is a leading personal finance blogger, NYTimes bestselling author, and runs one of the most successful online business courses out there (Earn1K, which I am a member of). Ramit states that despite how good his team is at marketing – 7 or 8 out of 10 ideas they have for a new product or service will fail. If the best people in business have 70%-80% of their new business ideas fail, what does that mean for you?

People have this big hang up about failure. It’s just like when guys are afraid to approach a pretty girl and talk to her for fear of getting rejected. People hate putting their egos on the line and so they will make all of these wild ass assumptions about what people want (some totally off base) and then when it comes time to sell their “great idea” they are puzzled as to why no one is interested.

You want to know what your target market wants? Go Ask Them.

Get off your ass and go talk to some people in your target market. Ask without selling. You aren’t trying to get them to buy anything, this is strictly research. Find out what are their pain points? What have they tried already that hasn’t worked? What piece of information do they wish they had which would get them to the next step?

When developing my current successful muse (strategy guide for a college business simulation) I was constantly hearing complaints from students about the difficulty of the simulation. So I dug deeper. I wanted to find out what specific problem areas were and what type of help students wished they had.

So I asked one of my friends a series of questions about the simulation. He said his biggest problem was that he didn’t have the needed amount of finance knowledge. Bingo! Now I knew what to look for. I repeated this process with several other students. Over time I was able to figure out the profile of my ideal customer and could cater my product to what they wanted.

That first step of just talking to people in my target market eventually developed into over $2000 a month in revenue. Not bad for a few conversations.


Key points:

  • Don’t get married to any one particular idea
  • Making assumptions about what your customers should want is dangerous
  • Talk to people in your target market – Ask Without Selling
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