I have just watched the Stacking the Bricks Presentation (Click here to download the MOV file) by Amy Hoy. It’s about how to build a product business, by showing how 37signals and other product businesses got started:
- A good way to start is to create a first paying, downloadable product. It could be a summary, a research report or an ebook. For example: 37signals wrote a research report about E-Commerce sites that it has sold for $99.
- It’s important to build some sort of credibility or audience, by either blogging, building a mailing list, contributing to an open source project, participating in discussion forums etc. For example: The founders of 37signals were participating in a discussion forum for designers while building their first product for this audience (Basecamp).
Everyone has to find his own path. There is no recipe and there is no shortcut. Every situation is unique. I was impressed by this slide which shows the steps that Amy Hoy took that finally led to her product business. Every single step was necessary for her. Everyone has to follow his own path and take it step by step, brick by brick.
I liked this slide as well. Everyone is only seeing that you own a wall (= product). But nobody asks where and how you collected the bricks and how you have put them together. Before you are able to build a wall, you need the bricks. It could be a consulting business, it could be a first downloadable product, it could be a job, whatever. You need your bricks.
My wish is to build some sort of an independent product business as well. This was actually the intention of my first company that I have co-founded when I was 19. All our initial efforts ultimately failed — although so far we have never built a real paying product. The company still exists, so who knows, maybe now the time is right to try it again, using the bricks that we have collected so far :)