How to Become a Successful Maker Without Destroying Yourself (FS223)

No matter what kind of business you’re thinking of starting, you have got to solve a REAL problem with a REAL solution.

We tear apart this idea in depth with Dan and Tom from Studio Neat, makers of fine, modern physical products.

They’ve just launched a brand new (and very unique) notebook on Kickstarter, and it hit it’s goal in just a few hours.

So, naturally, we wanted to ask them about what they’ve learned about business in their several years creating successful products from scratch.

Here’s three pieces of advice from them good for all of us, no matter the kind of business we’re running:

  1. It’s OK to start really small. Because there are so many hard things hiding in product development (logistics, QA, fulfillment, etc.), choose to come up with a product you could find 100 people to buy. That way you’ll get the entire cycle of how developing something works. Take a small bite at first, this will teach you enough to take a bigger bite next time.
  2. Don’t underestimate how much you have in common with your audience. One of the things that’s really underestimated is that you’ve got all this knowledge about what you and your peer group want. So, trust a little in what you want. Trust that because, for example, if you’re a young person you have insight into your peer group that doesn’t exist yet. You basically have this big advantage that companies are spending millions of dollars on trying to research. We are very similar to our audience and that made a huge difference for Studio Neat.
  3. The trick is not “wouldn’t this be cool”, it’s “oh there’s actually real pain in my life about this thing, and this would be truly valuable.” Focus on creating something really valuable/useful, instead of getting caught up in cleverness. It can be very easy to be precious about things or to value the wrong things (e.g., material choice that doesn’t solve the problem, it’s just a nice thing). This is known as “the problem of expertise.” The more of an expert you become the more you geek out on the details. But nobody else necessarily cares about the details; they care about the value/usefulness.

These are just a few of the conversation points we hit on in this podcast. Highly recommended listening, even if you’re not a physical product maker!

Enjoy!

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“No matter what kind of business you’re building, you have got to solve a REAL problem with a REAL solution.”
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