Chase a Big Idea – The Problem Punctuate is Solving
It’s been nearly five years since I sold my edtech startup. In the time since, I often serve as a mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs. The top question that I get asked by those looking to create their first business is: How do I find my big idea?
As with any goal, discovering your business idea requires the right mindset for success. You have to be aware of your strengths and limitations and be realistic about the problems that you and your network can uniquely solve.
That seems easy reading it on the screen, but it takes a lot of effort. Launching a business is like cooking a meal and assembling the stove as you go. You must have an idea of what type of stove you’re building and then you can cook your meal.
If this metaphor sounds illogical, that is because building a business is different than what most traditionally deal with at work. You aren’t performing tasks that solve problems. You are identifying problems and creating solutions that will produce a need for tasks, products, or services.
When you create a business, you alleviate pain points for real people, not imaginary people that you “just know” will love your product.
The myth that you will strike eureka with your big idea through a flashing “aha” moment is unrealistic. You have to be on the hunt for your idea. You constantly search for it.
Surround yourself with people who push you, inspire you, and ask you tough questions. Document what drives your curiosity. Sooner or later, you will build upon your ideas with research. You may abandon these inquiries, but you also may pursue them further.
Pursuit is key. What differentiates successful entrepreneurs from everyone else with an idea is that they chase it. Entrepreneurs allow themselves to find problems and consider how they can solve them. Situations and discussions immediately ring in their heads as business ideas. This is because they are trained to search for solutions. They also know that failure is part of the process.
Eight months ago, I knew I was ready to build something new. I just didn’t know what it was yet. So, I opened myself up to explore every avenue of discovery. I listened and documented my thoughts constantly. I surrounded myself with mentors and activities dedicated to entrepreneurship. I researched non-stop and tried things out.
I created this website, punctuate.co, as a resource to help people “tackle the tough stuff,” but, really, I was using it as a vehicle to find my idea. I figured if I published my experiences, I could connect myself with audiences that I am passionate about serving – entrepreneurs and adult learners.
On this road to create resources, I learned much about today's evolving digital information industry. I discovered that coaching is the second-fastest growing profession. I learned about passive income and side hustles; how people attempt to supplement their income with webinars, ebooks, and courses. I learned how traditional university education is struggling with admissions, as recent high school graduates pursue alternative learning for freelance work and solopreneurship. I discovered how this contributes to a booming $275 billion e-learning industry.
Fascinated, I personally explored these paths as a potential career choice. This year, I took dozens of courses from “professional coaches” and alternative schools. I joined membership programs. I created lead magnets and downloads. I bought templates. I bought software. I took classes about that software. I taught courses. I planned conferences and events. I read through tons of documentation about how to start teaching on Skillshare, Udemy, and other online platforms.
I learned that it was a lot of work to create a simple download or write a script for a course. I have a degree in education and worked in university communications for years. This seems overly complicated and challenging, I thought. How does everyone else feel?
So, I asked businesses, corporations, entrepreneurs, coaches, and conference organizers – pretty much anyone I knew who developed lead magnets and swipe files – about their experiences developing information products. They expanded upon the limitations that they experience, including design challenges, content creation issues, and value assurance. They also shared their unwavering desire to create content that people would sign up for or buy. Information products are still a leading permission marketing technique and championed by those seeking passive income.
Why isn’t there a service that guides people through content development steps to create a quality swipe file that is not only personalized, but well-designed?
So many of these courses, e-books, and workbooks miss the point. They don't teach. These content creators don't seem to have the skills to develop learning objectives. It is obvious that they are experts, but maybe they don't know how to properly communicate their subject.
I wish I could transform my content easily into something without a lot of specialized software.
Wait, why isn’t there an easy-to-use SaaS product to help entrepreneurs and businesses transform their expertise into well-crafted education products?
Now, Punctuate is tackling this problem. We are creating an edtech content development solution. This is our big idea.
Now, I don’t have my pitch deck yet, nor the fancy website – all are coming soon – but I have the concept. That is huge. I have the product development roadmap. I’m assembling the team. I have the landing page. I'm doing user interviews. I have the edtech contacts. Damn, I have a lot to announce in the next couple of weeks, months, and year...