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  • Starting from scratch… in a super saturated market ?!

     Tim Kwan updated 1 year, 6 months ago 3 Members · 11 Posts
  • Tim Kwan

    May 22, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Hi everyone! I’m loving the training, resources, and now this community forum.

    I’ve wanted to start an online business for the last 5+ years (!!). Ugh. It’s now time for me to push myself to finally get out there. One of my biggest mental obstacles has been finding the right product/market fit.

    Background: my business ideas have largely centered around my expertise in Excel, VBA, databases.

    I’m in consulting for my day job and often deliver full-fledged Excel tools for $100K+ (yeah, hard to believe lots of big companies rely that heavily on Excel still!).

    I’ve thought about 1.) teaching young, ambitious data analysts how to truly master Excel, 2.) teaching VBA for automation, 3.) offering personalized training where students work on projects they care about, etc..

    I’m competing against $10 Udemy courses, free Google searching, etc. Or that most people are content with their current Excel capabilities and have no burning needs to get better.

    In the end, it feels like I have a solution very few people are clamoring for… which has been my paralyzing problem.

    Question: what’s the most strategic approach to finding if there’s a viable business here that doesn’t involve me trying to sell ice to eskimos? I want to move forward the smart way, but also make sure I actually do move forward.

    Note: I’m working through the Business Building Bootcamp, but if there are other more relevant material I should use, I’d welcome any suggestions.


  • David Risley

    May 22, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Is your current work for a company? As in, an employee? Or are you doing consulting on your own? Would you be able to get similar consulting gigs if you were on your own?

  • Tim Kwan

    May 22, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    I work for a boutique consulting firm as an employee. I might be able to get similar work, but it’d definitely be harder without the brand behind me. Probably wouldn’t be able to get $100K+ projects either if i were on my own!

    I’ve wanted to start an online business to build something of my own – hopefully an asset that scales and doesn’t always require me to always trade time for money. So that’s why I’ve been attracted to the info product / training route.

  • David Risley

    May 23, 2020 at 8:01 am

    So, who do you think is the target customer here? It seems to me, based on what you’re saying, that targeting regular, everyday consumers might not be the best move with this because… yeah, they probably won’t pay much for Excel training. But, companies would. So, from that standpoint, what kinds of solutions could you provide independently to serve these kinds of clients?

  • Tim Kwan

    May 23, 2020 at 8:23 pm

    Hmm, great questions!

    I’m actually aiming to go B2C and avoid B2B altogether. Here’s my thinking:
    1. B2B sales requires more effort due to the longer sales cycles, finding the right people to communicate with in the company, approvals processes, etc.
    2. Since I want to start this as a side hustle rather than go all-in, not being able to be as responsive (or go on sales calls) during the day will limit my effectiveness for B2B sales

    While price points are definitely higher with businesses, I’m hoping that in the B2C route, there’s still a viable niche of individuals willing to pay $200-400+ for specialized, advanced Excel training.

    I saw on Udemy that the first listed Excel course ~500K students (of course, that’s only a ~$10 course). The hypothesis I’m testing out is there’s at least 1K students out there who aren’t satisfied and want something premium.

    BUT…I’m not sure if it’d take too much effort to find each person though.

    Hope these thoughts make sense. Thanks again for the feedback and questions so far – really appreciate it.

  • Jojo Colinares

    May 23, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    Hi Tim!

    Just dropping a note from a corporate individual’s stand point.

    I believe you have a reason to fear if you’re doing it alone because Excel training and Google Sheets can be found almost everywhere – even companies offer those as free to their employees.

    Still, employees might not really go for those training because they don’t have a driving force why they need to go deep (I have a full Excel training in my hard drive but I can’t even master pivoting and vlookup). All I need to do is sit down, focus on learning and apply it to my daily stuffs.

    The thing is, I don’t see the need right now because I can gather data from someone else.

    With all the apps and cool stuffs the companies are offering, only a few would really drive the backend. So aside from the basic stuffs in Excel, why would they need to go deeper?

    Maybe you can ask yourself – Who should go deep in Excel? Why would they do it?

    Or maybe you can create a demand by positioning yourself not in the Excel training per se but probably in the gamification of data (just like Menti, Kahoot, etc.). They’re about databases anyway and you have those sets of skills.

    So don’t go straight and sell ice to eskimos. Maybe you can sell them flavored ones or tools to transform their ice to something else.



  • Tim Kwan

    May 25, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    Hi Jojo,

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful points and questions… so true that there’s so much training out there, either already on ppl’s harddrives like you have or online.

    I hadn’t heard of Menti, Kahoot before; it’s encouraging that there are other ways to make something valuable for people.

    Now I’m brainstorming potential product/market fits along these lines and hopefully stumble upon a promising niche to investigate further.

    I’m also going through David’s material on how to find and evaluate a profitable market, so hope to find something promising soon. I have more specific thoughts, but listed below to reduce clutter.

    Really appreciating all the feedback so far – thanks and please feel free to add more thoughts!


    On who would really need my services… here are my thoughts:

    • It’s definitely not for the typical or average Excel user, even if they’re in it for daily tasks (like bookkeeping, tracking stuff, etc.)
    • It’d be the users who need to do more complicated things, are really pushing Excel to its limits (although probably because they’re not knowing how to use it correctly).
    • They’ve perhaps even gotten training before, but are recognizing it’s one thing to know that there are 999 Excel functions out there, it’s another thing to know when and how to use them effectively

    On ‘flavoring’ my ice, I’ve thought to:

    • Streamline the content into the actual core essentials. For example, instead of “here’s how to use all 999 Excel functions”, it’d be “here’s the 20 that actually matter, and here’s why”
    • Or for training, offer a personalized training. Instead of the canned, boring exercises that other courses offer, I can help teach them advanced concepts while having them apply it to their own projects that they care about moving forward. This service doesn’t scale, but would also justify a higher price point
  • David Risley

    May 25, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    First off, test any offer before you bother to build anything. This way… you would know there’s a demand before you take the time.

    Secondly, Jojo brings up a good point. Could your skillset be used in other ways?

  • Tim Kwan

    May 25, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    First off, test any offer before you bother to build anything. This way… you would know there’s a demand before you take the time.

    Definitely! I love this suggestion. I don’t want to waste any time on any unproven, untested possibilities that only sound good in my head 🙂 Hopefully will find run some successful tests soon.

    Hmm… I’ll have to think of what else my skills could be used for. The only (obvious) ones that came to mind were along the lines of training.

  • Jojo Colinares

    May 25, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    Great Tim!

    Good to know it’s all coming up gradually.

    One last thing.

    I’m not sure if you’ve heard of 1000 True Fans.

    You don’t need a million people in your tribe to make money. The challenge is to find for those 1000 true fans.

    A true fan is defined as a fan that will buy anything you produce. These diehard fans will drive 200 miles to see you sing; they will buy the hardback and paperback and audible versions of your book; they will purchase your next figurine sight unseen; they will pay for the “best-of” DVD version of your free youtube channel; they will come to your chef’s table once a month. If you have roughly a thousand of true fans like this (also known as super fans), you can make a living — if you are content to make a living but not a fortune.

    You can check out the original link here.

    I even read a few comments there and noticed the disagreement of Damon Ward to Richard Stanford’s statement that 500 fans is easy to achieve.

    Nevertheless, it’s impressive to see his fanbase in YT (Clay Tall Stories) grew to 47.3T subscribers in about 6 years (comment was 2 years ago and he was doing it for 4 years already).

    Probably he already has 5T True Fans today if the basis was his 260 True fans out of 2700 subscribers back then.

    Wish you luck!


  • Tim Kwan

    May 26, 2020 at 10:08 pm

    Thanks Jojo – 1000 true fans… I love the concept. It makes a lot of sense, really appreciate you sharing it. It puts the challenge in perspective and makes it seem at least a bit more achievable!

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