8 min 35 sec

CLASSROOM: Avoiding Mistakes in the Idea Phase

From trying to serve everyone to not thinking about fulfillment, here are seven common pitfalls in the idea phase. (Bonus: you’ll also learn how to avoid them!)

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What It's About

7 common mistakes in the side hustle idea phase—and how to avoid them.

Notes from Chris

Episode 1129
Welcome to a new month! This is the weekly Classroom segment. Last week we talked about deciding on an idea. I showed you a tool, the Side Hustle Selector, that you can use to eliminate ideas that aren’t a good fit for you at any particular time, as well as reduce your indecision.

Of course, no tool can help if you just want to remain stuck … so don’t do that! Join us on the road to implementing profitable ideas, which is what we’ll spend two-thirds of the year on. (Maybe even three-quarters, or whatever the next estimation is … but you don’t come to me for math lessons.)

Once you’ve got your idea, I want to save you even more time because I’ve seen (and experienced myself) that people tend to make the same mistakes over and over.

What are those common mistakes? Let’s jump right in. I’ll show you seven of them, and as a bonus - you’ll hear how to avoid them.

  • Trying to serve all the people, all the time. It’s not possible to do this well! Serve fewer people.

  • Not having a clear revenue model. Remember what I said about “How will your idea make money?” And if you don’t know, don’t proceed. Think long and hard about this question; it’s not optional.

  • Unclear messaging. Do you have an elevator pitch? If it starts with “It’s a long story…” or “It’s complicated…” that’s not good. Most likely, your idea isn’t complicated—you just can’t explain it well. Maybe you don’t know it well enough.

  • Not thinking enough about fulfillment. Later I’ll teach you about workflows, and designing a systematic process for how buyers can have a well-executed experience. For now, just think through how the logistics will work for whatever it is you propose to sell: how will you sell it, how will people pay for it, and what needs to happen for them to receive what they pay for?

  • Not having a good answer to the question “Why should anyone care about this?” This is one of those hard truths: the more you can be coldhearted about your own idea, the better job you’ll do in polishing it to make it more compelling and interesting. I want you to believe in your idea, but put on your skeptic’s hat now and then to really understand any objections or weaknesses.

  • Not asking, “What if this succeeds?” You may have already thought about the possibility that your idea fails. That happens … but you should also think about what happens if your idea succeeds and works really well? Will you have problems if its too successful? How can it grow if it takes off right away?

  • Not having any sense of urgency or scarcity. You want potential buyers to think, “I need to have this now,” not “That’s interesting, maybe one day I’ll come back and look at it.”

Listen to today's Classroom episode to learn more...



Test your idea against the seven common mistakes, and see how it holds up.

Do you have a clear revenue model? Have you thought about fulfillment? What’s your answer to the question, “Why should anyone care about this?”

  Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau