About a week ago I made the decision to put a bullet in Snip after almost five years of effort. There wasn’t one big event that caused me to make the decision. It was a number of realizations that built up over time, and then one day a certain customer cancelled and that was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I had had a level of success with a PPC campaign I had started in late spring, but eventually the PPC campaign inexplicably fizzled and most of the customers I “won” via the PPC campaign didn’t actually end up completing their trial periods. The success was mostly an illusion. It was the day that one of these customers cancelled that I started seriously pondering the idea of shutting down the business.
Here are some of the challenges the salon market presents:
- Unlike developers, designers and other office workers, stylists and salon owners aren’t on the computer all day. They do use smartphones, but not nearly in the same way we use computers. This makes it hard to reach them.
- Salon owners have a competitive scarcity mindset. They guard their “secrets”. There aren’t local salon owner meetups. Therefore, there’s little opportunity for referrals.
- Salon owners usually don’t view themselves as business owners. They’re technicians who happen to be in possession of a business. Most of them also seem to have an expense mindset as opposed to an investment mindset, which is of course an obstacle to selling.
- Stylists and salon owners are very averse to talking with salespeople on the phone. Most of them don’t really seem to use email in my experience, and in fact many of them don’t even HAVE email. Again, hard to reach.
- I’m not a domain expert in the beauty industry. I don’t want to be, and I’m never going to be. I can’t build an audience of fans.
- What I already do for money (programming) has nothing to do with the beauty industry. My product doesn’t feed my service business and my service doesn’t feed my product business.
- Salons open and close like crazy. I lost a customer recently because they just opened their salon and they failed to get it off the ground. High turnover means high churn.
Of course no market is going to be without challenges, but this one seems particularly challenge-laden. I don’t seem to have above-average entrepreneurial aptitude (as I’ve painfully come to realize over the last seven years of failure). I probably shouldn’t be taking a shot at business success with one arm tied behind my back.
I’m going to take another stab at building a successful product business. This next one will be the seventh attempt. Here’s what I’ll do differently:
- Pick a product that synergizes with what I already do for money, programming
- Pick a market that spends a lot of time online, searching for solutions to problems
- Pick a market in which I can build an audience that cares about things I have to say
- Pick a market that has money and can pay $X00/mo, not $X0/mo
- Pick a market that has a problem that can be solved with a relatively simple product that won’t take forever to build
- Detect the demand first, then build the list, then sell the product, then build the product (or something roughly like that)
Or at least I’ll pick an idea that meets most of those criteria.
I’ve already started researching and brainstorming for my next idea. I’m open to any ideas anyone might have. Wish me luck.