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6 Steps I Took To Turn My Own Struggle, Frustration And Transition Into A Business Opportunity.

This week a number of people having been asking me the same question:

“What steps did you take to turn own struggles, frustrations and transition into a business opportunity helping others.”

This seemed like a perfect opportunity to draft a new blog post and share with you the 6 steps I took to get started.

These are the steps – if you ‘d like to know more, read the details down below.

1. First identify a problem and framework a solution.

2. Then create a product/market-fit.

3. Test your idea and get market validation.

4. Package your service according to the value and set out different value steps.

5. Create a roadmap for your customers to find you.

6. Implement automated tools, messages and channels.

Let me give you some background information first. In 2013, I left my competitive corporate job 👏 and started traveling. Repulsed by how much of our life we dedicate to others and our work, I pursued a career in health and wellness (as so many).

“Unfortunately”, I was interested in almost everything : yoga, acroyoga, healthy nutrition, veganism, raw food, meditation, mindfulness, running, HIIT, …  you name it, I took a course about it 🙊. Becoming a holistic health coach seemed like the obvious choice. There was no way I was going to let my life pass me by and waste my creativity on another 9-5 not giving me any purpose, meaning and added value.

The only issue was that the 🤓 in me was still profoundly interested in tech, business and growth marketing. During my nomadic adventures, I connected with startup founders, digital nomads and lean marketing mentors teaching me everything there is to know about creating innovative business models in line with both your personal needs as well as the markets. So I reversed-engineered my plan based on their best practices and as a lean marketing coach I’m able to impact the health and happiness of so many more .

When I had made up my mind about the business idea, the implementation was a matter of months. I’m a firm believer that this approach is what it takes to get started:

All my actions were inspired by growth hacking and the running lean method of Ash Maurya, but instead of building a software product, I leveraged their methods to create a product around my personality and life.

1. First you “identify a problem and framework a solution”

What is frustrating you in your life and your world? What’s the number one problem you’re seeing today and is really at the top of your priorities for change?

For me the problem is actually made up of two things: the way we’re working isn’t working + the way we’re marketing isn’t working. So why was it not working and what are potential solutions? Ask yourself this question with your problem in mind.

In my example it was: We are collectively adapting our lifestyle to our work instead of vice versa. So in order to solve this, we would need to design work that fits into our lifestyle and is build on what we are naturally good at, what we have learned in our lives from experience and what excites us to begin with. And why is marketing not working? We are building products that are not the answer to solving other people’s problems. So in order to face this issue, we need to market and develop products that serve customers rather than the reverse. Which is what made me pursue learning about growth hacking and inbound marketing. 

2. Then create a “product/market-fit”

Think about yourself, what do you have to offer (holistically) that can solve this problem, what are your natural skills, personality and know how that help solve the above identified problem.

For me it really has been a series of trial and error over the course of years before I was able to pinpoint what it is that I do that is really helpful for someone else. Having so many ideas and creating business models all the time even when no one was asking me to do this, made me realise: this is what I want to do with my time, even if I’m not working or not being told what to do, this is what I’m exceptionally good at and is a solution for others.

Then think about the market you want to serve and find inspiration in your personal environment and in all the things you like. Create segments, be specific and work it out thoroughly. Keep in mind that having many interests and passions is a virtue not a disadvantage, despite conventionalists claiming that specialization rules, it’s exactly combining multiple aspects around yourself that will allow you to innovate and create new ideas!

I listed: creativity, strategy, analysis, innovation, technology, process optimisation, yoga, running, healthy nutrition, energy renewal, productivity as being the key elements that define me. While all of these aspects might not seem to interact at first, they can inspire you to create new ideas! It’s all about trying out combo’s and testing what is the right product and the right market for you.

Based on my list, I created a first minimum viable product (= a creative session to identify business opportunities). I identified the “health and wellness sector” as my ideal market, and decided that my technical and growth hack mindset would be my unique approach of my service.

3. Test your idea and get market validation

Reach out to your ideal client (you defined your market in the 2nd step, remember) with a beta-version of your product (=how you are going to solve his problem) and get the client’s feedback to systematically de-risk and finetune the first version of your first service idea.

Reach out to your market asking for help and feedback instead of selling. Invite people to participate to your market research (that means survey, focus groups, interviews, setting up meetings with people you think you can help and ask them for their feedback).

Give them something valuable in return, offer them a free resource or a free opt-in at receiving your service in exchange for their feedback AND their testimonial > get your first beta-testers to refer you to new potential customers.

4. Package your service according to value and set out different value steps

After having identified how to solve your customer’s problem you translate your beta-version into a different packages: a free resources package (valuable content you create which you will use to establish trust and authority and generate leads for your paid programs – e.g. my blog post is exactly that), a starter’s’ package (the basic package – which is my 1-time creative session), a premium package (in my case it’s my 12-week coaching program) and a service maximiser (in my example it’s my Optimize For Happiness Business retreat).

5. Create a roadmap through which your customers will find you.

Determine the channels through which you will get attention from your audience, set out tactics to generate interest for what you do and build a relationship with your prospects, create commercial tactics to make your leads desire your offer and finally the tactics to close deals. Set out attainable and measurable goals in each of these phases to make sure you know how much effort to put in each of them and track your progress.

6. Implement tools, messages and channels in an automated and optimised way.

Figure out what tools you will be using in order to manage the daily operation of your business as productively as possible.

E.g. what will be your customer’s touchpoint (Is it a website? What platform will you use: WordPress, Clickfunnels, Lead pages?…). What are the best attention getting tools for your service (Facebook, Google AdWords, Communities?).

Are there automation tools that will help you run your business effectively? How will you optimise generating new leads, publishing and distributing your message? Same goes for relationship building: use automation tools, a great example is ActiveCampaign.

I really hope this was helpful for you, so please let me know if this answers any of your questions and if not, leave a comment below about how I can give you more clarity.

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2016 throwback: 8 things I stopped doing 👏 and 8 things I wish I started doing sooner 😩

  1. Started talking about my ideas to people and getting the brutally honest feedback of my target audience
  2. Stopped waiting for my business idea to be perfect in order to launch
  3. Created a trial mini-version of my service and tested it out on potential customers
  4. Stopped wasting my time and energy on channels and marketing tools that gave me no return
  5. Created and launched my own website www.optimize-happiness.com 
  6. Stopped spending my time on every little detail and focused on the tasks that bring me results
  7. Started selling my service even before I felt I was ready
  8. Stopped doubting if I was capable enough and just did it
  9. Started making money based on my own skills, learnings and lifestyle
  10. Stopped wanting to do everything myself and paid to get help with the things I’m no good at
  11. Started implemented new tools (Activecampaign, Calendly, Typeform…) and improved my WordPress and Google Analytic skills allowing me to work smarter and faster
  12. Stopped serving customers that weren’t the right fit for me, even if I needed the money
  13. Started surrounding myself with like-minded entrepreneurs to get their support and exchange of ideas
  14. Stopped fretting about my e-book and published with a “good enough” is ok too attitude
  15. Organised my first free “Get Paid To Be You” workshop
  16. Stopped shitting my pants every time I had to speak in public

Next big 2017 challenge is the Optimize For Happiness Hackathon bringing more people together, sharing ideas, getting inspired and doing what I love. 

What do you want to start doing and letting go off?

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Personal Branding is dead, long live your Personal Product = a business inspired by five forgotten needs.

personal product

The way we’re working isn’t working and we know it. Employees all over the world aren’t happy and are consequently causing employers and states an enormous cost. Not to mention the human price we pay in terms of employees’ mental and physical state as a result from an artificial, one-size-fits all and ancient system.

Are we collectively behaving as morons? Making career decisions and mistakes against our better judgement? No, we’re not, we’re all smart enough to see the problem, but standards conventions, advocating us on how we’re supposed to live and work, are limiting our vision and preventing us to see the real solution. Today it’s more than obvious that something is wrong and innovation of the workforce is imperative.

So why are we so unhappy about the way we work – and what can we do about it?

At the root of our unhappiness we can distinct five needs in which this common feeling is manifested:

  • we don’t feel aligned with the way we’re making a living
  • we miss purpose and meaning in what we do
  • our work is lacking an overall positive impact on others people’s lives
  • we don’t feel valued for who we are
  • we’re not working productively or sustainably.

The key to solving this problem is to do what you love, exploit your own natural talents and hard learned life lessons, invest in yourself, make the kind of difference you really care about and respect the lifestyle you want to pursue in the first place.

The good news is: finding the right mindset, ideas and approach to make this happen, doesn’t have to be that hard.

Finding out what you love

Doing what you love is basically the foundation of a life and career worth pursuing. Despite a few lucky bastards getting paid to do the things they love, most of us are still stuck finding out what that actually is. If you don’t know what you love, ask yourself these questions. What makes you happy? Don’t think about things you own, but deep-dive into the moments when you felt really happy. What topics do you feel deeply and emotionally connected to? The list may be long, mine for example includes passions you may not initially see interlinked, such as healthy food, body and mind exercise, future of work, technological innovation, but aren’t those exactly the pillars on which I found my own lifestyle business? When I’m asked: what are you passionate about? It’s never just one. So look for how to connect your multiple passions or times of happiness. Any connection to your passion, be it small or large, can greatly enhance and optimize your life.

Exploit your own natural talents and life lessons

Let your own individual experience, what you managed to achieve in your life and the personal best practices you developed on the way serve as inspiration for developing a solution to other people’s problems. What comes naturally to you may come as a huge problem for someone else. The things you can do, the things you know well and the tasks you’re able to manage are an easy leverage to creating your own personal product. Focus on how you solve problems for someone else and you will end up with a viable service, an opportunity for growth, both personally as well as professionally. It’s the right foundation to build a package of offerings that people actually want. And if done properly and strategically, you won’t even have to sell, people will naturally find your solution instead of being pushed. Ultimately what you do will make your customers happy to pay.

Invest in yourself

Living self-sufficiently is one of the most determining factors to feel satisfied and stay committed to the work you’re delivering. A lot of people are insecure about leaving their safe and stable employee environment, but forget that stepping outside their comfort zone is exactly what their minds needs in order to breath and find the space to figure out what they really want. Starting your own business, whether it’s full time or just a side hustle, is not a joy ride, it’s a daunting, scary and challenging experience, but if you’re really committed to finding more purpose and meaning in what you do, it’s definitely and possibly the only way to go. Moreover, how much can we, the workforce, still rely on the safety net of social security or government assistance? The system is failing and we all know it. If you want secure your future, think of something better to invest in than a useless saving account, a house that might not still be here in 50 years (who knows what will happen in the times ahead of us). A business build on your own experience, life learnings and best practices for instance.

Make the difference

Using all your unique aspects as a leverage will not only help you to create an authentic business, it will also allow you to identify the difference you want to make. What’s the change you want to see in this world? What are today’s frustrations, struggles or problems you could tackle? What trends are you’re dying to pick up on. For me it’s wanting to create a new perspective, it’s changing the way we live and work and it’s making an overall impact on our health and happiness. If you don’t know what’s yours, dig into your personal environment and start inventorying the topics you find yourself most talking and reading about. What are you looking and searching for? What are you curious for and eager to learn about? Create categories and lists, pinpointing and describing the most important challenges and opportunities in your environment. Try to identify the patterns, the trends you care most about and want to impact. 

Pursue the lifestyle you want.

Last, but not least, innovation and technology are making it possible to go-to-market with a business concept involving all aspects of you. They’re paving the way for an optimized workflow, allowing you to work when, how and where you want. Any aspect of a purpose-driven business is now entirely self-manageable thanks to technological innovation. You’re perfectly capable of creating online touchpoints, find an audience, reach out to customers and automate your sales operation in order to work exactly how you see fit. Whatever the solution you want to offer, being it a coaching service, organizing classes or workshops, writing about your experience, … anything is possible.

Now you’re up to speed, it’s time to wrap your head around a personal product of your own. Follow the 5 key needs I listed above and put them into your own product/market framework. If you have issues pinpointing some of the key elements, you can download my free workbook here.

Need help framing the result of your soul searching? Book a free short-session with me to get an outside perspective on your approach and I would be happy to help you move forward. 

Not what you’re looking for? Drop your comments or questions below.