Most startups fail because creators are trying to be someone else.
You look at the story of Facebook, or Peloton, or even the Coolest Cooler… and think, “If only I could do that, too!”
But if we’re going to start this year strong, take this one bit of advice — play to your strengths!
In the early 2000s software engineer Jon Oringer started selling small programs online.
He developed subscription models for one of the web’s first popup blockers, some accounting software, trademark managers, and another 10 or so small programs… and marketed them through a growing mailing list.
He also realized something that we now take for granted — emails with images work better.
But finding affordable royalty-free images online in 2002 was a real pain!
So Oringer picked up his Canon camera and love of amateur photography, took to the streets, and over the next six months shot 100,000 images…
And in 2003 — with those images and his own savings — he built and launched his own stock photo website.
For nearly 3 years, he ran the business essentially by himself.
Taking images. Uploading them. Developing the site. Handling customer service and sales. And running ad campaigns on Google AdWords.
He’d even get friends to pose as models… until the demand exceeded his sole capabilities…
Eventually, he turned his love of photography and his engineering skills into a $2B company — Shutterstock!
When he first picked up that camera, he probably didn’t mean to.
He just needed pictures for the software he was marketing…
But over time, those 2 skills became the cornerstone of the company he built — and nobody else could have done the same.
His competitive advantage over all programmers was that he understood photography and its needs.
And his advantage over photographers trying to sell their images on existing stock sites like iStockphoto and Dreamstime, was that he knew how to build his own platform (and own 100% of the revenue)!
Before building TCF, I worked as a digital marketer and also managed a research company.
After hearing about crowdfunding — and failing my first campaign — I was confident that my research skills would help me find a way to make this work.
And what do researchers love doing? Researching!
And writing about their research, of course!
So that’s what I did for the next 6 months…
I got in touch with every single successful crowdfunding campaigner I could find, and started writing about what I learned.
I had no clue where that would take me — I definitely didn’t see myself running $5M campaigns less than 3 years later!
But in taking those 2 passions for research and marketing, and focusing only on those, I planted the seeds for what is now TCF.
So what is your unique skill?
What is the one thing that only you can do?
Focus on it.
And build a future that only you can.
For everything else — there’s Mastercard! — and Creator Club to show you all the other skills you need to launch a successful brand.
Check Creator Club out here, and start learning new skills this year.