18 year old lost on where to start but this seemed like one of the nicest communities

I’m not sure if this is the right community to post this as most of what’s on here seems like software but from looking at the posts and replies here for the last few days I gotta say this is one of the most helpful communities I’ve seen with people actually responding and adding values so I think I’ll stay here and at least be reading.

So the service would be doing the research for small business owners/ bootstrapers who are short on time or don’t have a member of staff they can give all of their little questions to. We could answer questions such as what software should we use for X, how should we do Y, but these would be questions that aren’t necessarily core issues to the person but need to be addressed and it would take time for them to do so.

What I’m unsure about would be how to validate this business idea/ find first clients. I’m considering maybe working with a few people first and seeing what kind of questions I get so I can work out pricing. Whether I should charge per question or a monthly fee for unlimited. This is the kind of work I do for my church and friends often so I know it’s an issue I just don’t know if people would pay for it.

Perhaps offer the first question free to start with?

I wouldn’t recommend that. What if someone asks 100 questions in a month?

Another possible approach would be to buy blocks of time, which get used up as you ask questions. This also allows for the fact some questions might take more time than others.

Good luck!

This sounds like the sort of human-powered business that you could start offering immediately with almost no infrastructure beyond a method for taking payments (could be as simple as PayPal) and a way of keeping track of services purchased vs. services delivered (could be as simple as a spreadsheet).

I don’t know if there’s a service that already does this, but let’s assume not. Then pricing is going to be a best guess to begin with. If it were my idea, I’d start by charging per question which would keep the initial customers’ level of commitment low but give you a lot of great feedback as you’re defining your offering. Once you’ve got some evidence that a) people want this and b) they’re willing to pay, you can revisit the pricing and/or single purchase vs. recurring subscription questions.

Where are you based David?

I am based in Perth Australia. The other thing is timezone maybe being an issue with working with people

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Thanks for the advice. I’ll try brainstorming some ways to get a few test clients and like you said offer the service for free. Hopefully the feedback would help me hammer out what I’m actually offering and also tell me what kind of questions might be asked which will probably help me choose pricing

Yeah I think you are right. I can probably just put a landing page up and go from there then. Would you have any idea how I may be able to reach out to people to get those first few clients?

People tend not to attach much value to free stuff. So I would only offer the first question for free, as a trial and a way to get feedback.

Ah, shame. I was going to suggest you apply for this -

  • I run the event and trying to offer a few people starting out on their
    entrepreneurial journey is the reason we run them but this might be a
    stretch if you are in Perth!

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Respectfully I don’t think you’ve really got a business with that.

Its hard to see how you would differentiate yourself from a general Virtual Assistant, or someone you could find on UpWork or fivver.

It would be a nightmare to price correctly. “what parcel service should I use to send this” would be really easy but “How would I setup a multi-national distribution scheme” might be a little bit harder. Can’t see how you price other than quotes or man-hours - monthly / per question will not work.

Also Its very hard marketing something that can be almost anything to anyone.

  • What would people put in Google to find a service like this? Hint - almost anything. So to try and capture that search traffic you’ve got to write… about almost everything. So Inbound Marketing is out.
  • How could you find business that could use such a service? Its not like you’re targeting a specific Horizontal or Vertical industry (like Plumbers, or people who need CRM software) so Outbound Marketing is out.
  • You’re left with things like cold calling random businesses with a pitch or shotgun advertising - both very very hard to pull off.

Some random ideas here - but my biggest idea for you is you need to do more work on getting some more concrete ideas;)

  • You could validate this by putting up something on fivver.com (though the money is really poor it should tell you if you’re onto something).
  • I think you need to specialise, find a Niche in one particular area. (e.g. becoming an expert and setting up a business around software small non-profits can use to manage fund raising would be a lot easier than the general Q & A person idea).
  • You could start researching the sort of jobs put on UpWork and similar sites - look for trends and themes, maybe take a few jobs.
  • Reading up about Productized Consulting Services would give you some good things to think about.
  • Also I would read up some of Amy Hoy’s stuff - Sales Safari etc. Its a bit cult but she does have some good points (and you can get a lot of her stuff for free, no need to spend cash if you don’t want to )
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Perth, represent! :smiley:

Since you’re in Perth, you might want to try talking to people at Spacecubed, it’s the defacto home for much of Perth’s startup/tech scene. There’s also Sixty27 up in Joondalup, a short walk from Lakeside Joondalup. The workspace itself is usually empty, but the members there seem a bit less techie than Spacecubed, so they might benefit more from the services you’ve described (and the social membership level is free).

I tend to agree with Rhino’s comments, but from the way you’ve described your service, focusing on local clients might be a way to get around time zone issues, building trust & credibility, and identifying a specific niche/service that people need.

Good luck!

Thank you very much for your response. You mentioned a lot of the issues I was already concerned about. I think if I do go ahead and try with the idea then finding a niche would absolutely be the way to go. So I’ll look deeper into that. Also I’d envision the service to be somewhere between a VA and a consultant but I’m thinking maybe I should target non techy people who things like the research process can be overwhelming and so would hiring a VA.

Thank you very much I’ll definitely check both those places out sometime next week