NOTE: You can listen to the audio version of this blog post on the Quit Pinching Pennies podcast.
I don’t play poker. I’m not a gambling man.
In fact, I’ve never bought a lottery ticket, and it pangs me to buy raffle tickets at school fund raisers.
I don’t believe in luck. I don’t like taking chances.
I’m a researcher. I like to follow facts.
But not fact without emotion. I know that humans are irrational.
I like to study that, too!
If you want a successful side business, you should spend a little time learning about how people make decisions.
Dan has done some great work that’s super helpful in understanding how people shop, buy, and make decisions in regards to money.
But I digress…
Point is, I don’t mind taking risks. If they are calculated risks.
So it should come as no surprise that I don’t like games that are up to chance.
I prefer games based on skill. Games against others more so than against the computer. And especially games against others in a group setting.
That’s why one of the few games I play on my phone is Texas Holdem.
(I also like Slither.io, but don’t tell anyone!)
I don’t play Texas Holdem for money. Just for the game itself. I love the idea of playing against a table full of people from around the world. People I can’t see.
I have no idea how old they are. Where they are. What they do. Or even what language they speak.
The Texas Holdem Example
When I first started, I didn’t know much about Texas Holdem.
I didn’t really have a strategy. I just winged it.
In fact, I think I played every hand I was dealt.
I rarely folded. Always stayed in, just in case the last card fell in my favor. And I lost. Almost all the time.
So I started to pay attention to the winners. And I quickly realized that they didn’t play every hand. In fact, they folded quite a bit. Right from the start.
I was curious. So, after only a few minutes of research, I discovered that you shouldn’t play every hand. Doing so is a horrible strategy if you want to win.
To win, you only want to play winning hands. Like a pair of 10’s. Or a king and queen.
You never ever want to play a 2 and a 7. Not unless you’re really good at bluffing.
And sure enough, when I waited to play the hands where my first two cards where strong, I won more.
A whole lot more. (but still no money)
And this reminds me of reading a book by Howard Shultz, the founder of Starbucks, called Pour Your Heart Into It.
In the book he talks about decisions related to hiring baristas.
He was once asked, “How do you get all of your employees to smile?”
“I hire people who smile!”
In other words, he picked winners.
He didn’t have to train people to smile, he hired people who were happy. Who had a pleasant demeanor, and loved to smile.
The Real Estate Example
In a similar vein, a few years ago I did some work for the owner of a successful real estate firm. They’re known for selling houses really fast. Sometimes their average is just a few days.
I once asked my client, “how do you sell all your homes in just a few days?”
“We only accept clients whose houses we can sell in just a few days.”
You see, they don’t take on clients who want to overprice their homes. Or who aren’t willing to do the upgrades and repairs necessary to sell the home quickly.
If you define winning as “selling homes quickly”, you shouldn’t take on clients with homes that you know won’t sell quickly.
Pick the winners!
So when you’re thinking about starting or building your own successful side business, online business, or blog, make sure you pick a winner.
Give people what they want. Not what you want to give them, or what you think they need.
The Mac & Cheese Example
We all know it’s very difficult to change people. To get people to do something they’re not normally inclined to do.
If you’ve ever tried to get children to eat new foods, you know the struggle is real!
And when we’re talking about kids. About family. We might try to change them, but we know it’s hard.
We know it’s much easier to serve mac & cheese than it is to serve broccoli and carrots.
But for some reason, when it comes to business, we offer the broccoli and carrots.
We try to give people what we think they want or need. What WE want them to have, or what WE want to serve. Not what they really want.
And while that’s noble, it doesn’t usually make for a successful venture.
That’s not picking a winner.
If you want to open a store, sell donuts. Sell ice cream. Sell pizza. These are things people wait in line for.
If you want to have a winning business or successful blog, pick a winning idea. One that people are already searching for. Already interested in.
And it’s not just about what people want, but it even gets into other aspects of business, like who you have access to.
The SuperSimpl Example
When working on SuperSimpl, I decided to focus on dads and moms of school-aged kids. Not because I don’t want to help my parent’s generation or teens. I will gladly help any of them.
But I’m a dad of school-aged kids. I have access to people like me. I see them at school functions, at my kids’ baseball practice, at cub scouts, at church, and even on Facebook and in groups and Meetups.
I understand the struggles, and the goals, and the desires.
So I tried to make it easier on myself. I tried to pick a winner.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy. But it’s a whole lot easier than if I tried to target 20-somethings in New York city.
Whew, I wouldn’t even know where to begin…
So regardless of whether you have a blog, a small business, a side hustle, online business or whatever, make sure you’re picking winners.
Serve people you have access to.
Give them what they want.
Solve a problem they have.
Talk to them in words they use and understand.
Take care of them.
And everything else will be a whole lot easier!