I’m not gonna lie. I wanted to be a gold digger.
So many people were doing it. Men AND women. It looked so easy.
And the money . . . ahhh, the money. Come on, we’re talking about millions! I mean, who could resist?
Not me. Not until I was faced with these questions. Questions that you should ask yourself.
Do you want to follow the crowd or do you want the crowd to follow you?
Did you become an entrepreneur to chart your own course or to follow the breadcrumbs left behind by other trailblazers?
Would you rather stand in awe of a visionary like Steve Jobs or become a visionary yourself?
To Sell or To Dig?
There’s an old aphorism that if you want to make money in a gold rush, don’t dig for gold. Instead, sell picks and shovels to the gold miners.
Followers dig for gold.
Visionaries sell shovels.
Pierre Omidyar’s shovel to sellers is eBay.
Amazon.com’s shovel to aspiring authors is CreateSpace.
The World’s Best Shovel
The headline to this post should’ve been “The World’s Best Shovel”. But who wants to read a post about shovels?!
Besides, the idea is not to create the world’s best shovel. Because while you’re perfecting your shovel, your competitors are beating you to the market with an “adequate” shovel and bringing in profits you could’ve earned.
That’s not to say that you always want to be the first-to-market. Just look at Apple. It wasn’t the first company to come out with a portable music player. It wasn’t even the second. Yet look where they’re at now.
And the idea isn’t to build the world’s most useful multi-functioning shovel, either (like a Swiss army knife). Nowhere is it more true than in the world of mobile apps where many developers fall into the trap of building too many features into their apps. They forget that these apps are made for mobile devices, not desktop computers. Where users want to perform quick, simple tasks, not tap through a complex series of buttons.
So what is it then? What’s the BIG idea?
The big idea is the story surrounding your “shovel”. The story that engages your target customers. The story that only YOU can tell. A story that elevates your “shovel” from a commodity to a brand.
Like the story Apple tells us over and over again so brilliantly.
And as Seth Godin so eloquently puts it in his analysis of pricing a product: “. . . focus on how the design or delivery change the availability of substitutes, and how the price becomes part of the story of your product. You can tell a story of value/cheapness/affordability, or a story of luxury.”
So I started out wanting to be a gold digger in the mobile apps gold rush (you didn’t think I meant that OTHER kind of gold digger, did ya? ). I wanted to create awesome apps that millions want to download. But I quickly realized that, like the miners in the gold rush, developers who struck it rich were few and far in between. Instead of developing and selling apps, I should be selling “shovels” TO the developers.
That’s not to say that I won’t be developing any more apps. But building apps will not be the core of my business. Instead, I will develop new apps to complement my business of selling “shovels” to app developers and marketers.
You see, this is what I love about being a solo entrepreneur: the ability to change course quickly. No need to convene a committee. No need for approval. Just an inner conviction to fight for your ideas.
So the question is: Are you selling shovels or digging for gold?