Signals #11 - Low-Risk Businesses


I like to research how big trends could transform the way we run our businesses.

This week's research was focused on how to start small, pick a low-risk business idea and have a safety net in place.

I hope you find this report useful.

Let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments.

📶 Signals #11 - Low-Risk Businesses

❌ Challenge

  • Building big and complicated products and services is risky. Upfront investments in time and money are large. Failing is expensive.

✅ Opportunity

  • Aim lower if you're just setting out on your own. Keep your day job, aim for slow and steady growth on the side. Forget the million dollar ideas: solve an everyday problem or improve on an existing business model.

⚙️ Actions

  • Start in a proven market. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. There are plenty of business models where the demand is already validated.

  • Keep your day job at first. Negotiate to work part-time. Or work on your own thing before/after the daily grind. Consider quitting only if your personal runway is at least 12-24 months.

  • Aim lower. Go for $1 revenue first. Then $100, then $1,000. Start one step lower than you think you should. Achieving something constantly keeps you motivated and in the game.

🔨 Tools

  • A basic toolkit for keeping things simple, low-cost and light-weight:

  • NameCheap - Cheap hosting and domains for websites.

  • Trello - Keep your tasks organized in one place.

  • Notion - Organize tasks and collect knowledge.

  • Carrd - Easily create websites on templates.

  • Plausible - Simpler website analytics.

  • Calendly - Book meetings without the hassle.

  • Gumroad - Sell digital products.

  • Welder - Host and record video calls.

  • TypeForm - People-friendly forms and surveys.

  • Wave Accounting - Accounting tools.

🚀 Pros

  • Having many small bets in the validation phase covers more surface area. And lowers the risk of not finding a product-market fit. Increase focus on what works after you've found some traction.

  • Keeping the total risk low allows you to learn more over time. Failing doesn't mean it's final. You can start over. Just don't quit completely.

🚧 Cons

  • Lower risk can mean lower profits. But more is not always better. Staying small can also be a great goal.

📊 Cases

  • Micro SaaS Idea - This newsletter grew to 600 free subscribers in 2 months. After 1,000 subscribers it was launched on Product Hunt and made already $800/MRR. Since then growth has picked up, latest stats:

    • +3000 subscribers

    • $1500/MRR

    • $4k in total sales

    only after 100 days. The founder @upen946 shares his progress openly on Twitter.

  • Startup Without Code - Meisuleen made 11 presales within 2 days for her Notion dashboard after posting it on Reddit. She has a part-time job and is aiming ultimately at $4K-5K/MRR income while inspiring other women do the same. She believes strongly in picking trending and already validated ideas to keep the risks lower.

  • Ark Watcher - Stan Choi built up the backbone of his investment newsletter in 1 day while working full time as a software engineer. After leveraging YouTubers for shoutouts he was able to grow to +1,000 subscribers in just one month. Ark Watcher has now over 8,000 subscribers and is monetizing through sponsorships.

  • DocTemple - @jeandesuis worked on DocTemple slowly while having a day job. A key idea: he did not publish a roadmap which allowed for slower and low-stress work. DocTemple has peaked at $1500/MRR and made $4k sales in total.

🕘 Forecast

  • More and more entrepreneurs will build micro-businesses and then sell them for small wins before moving on. QuantMaps was sold for $9k, One Item Store for $5.3k. See Microacquire for a marketplace.

📚 Resources

  • Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days - The one book that got me started. How to earn the first dollar within a month step-by-step.

  • The Sweaty Startup - Nick Huber hates the "Shark Tank" -culture. He argues there's a fortune to be made in trades and local businesses.

  • Side Hustle Stack - An aggregator of different work platforms and resources, ranging from gig work to help you start a small business.

🏆 Takeaways

  • Don't aim big, especially on the first time. Go for proven business models. Concentrate on making the first sale, the first dollar and keeping the first client happy. Manage risks and be sure to have a plan-B.

📶 Want more?

  • Get up to 200% more Low-Risk Business ideas with Signals Pro.

  • Pro includes 1500 hours yearly research + all past reports.

  • Launch Offer: -50% with code signals50 - act fast, less than 20 slots left.

  • Or join 400+ founders getting weekly free trend insights:

🤝 Thanks for reading. See you next week!

  1. 3

    Good resource Timo . Thank You - Venkat

    1. 1

      No worries @venkatworks! Glad it was useful to you.

  2. 2

    Couldn't figure it out right away, but this reminds me of trends.vc by @dru_riley. I guess doing a trends report / newsletter appears be a trend also. Meta haha.

    1. 1

      I love @dru_riley's work :) He's definitely an inspiration.

      But yeah I think research as a service in general is a great model and saves a lot of effort for many founders.

  3. 2

    Such a good summary, thank you @timosarkka 💪

  4. 2

    Hey Mate really helpful report, very insightful.

    One remark:

    I had a closer look at "Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days" and it has 46% unnatural reviews according to ReviewMeta.

    And some deleted reviews which rated the book at 3,7

    Seems to be highly marketed and optimized. Not saying it's no good, but the icing on the cake seems very strong.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. 1

      Thanks, appreciate it!

      Ok, great to know. Didn't check the stats and I dont know how Chris optimizes his marketing tactics :)

      I have the book on my Kindle and personally I think it's a great system to get started (I have no affiliations with it). It has its drawbacks (a bit on the hustle culture side) but the real value is that it makes you do super small things for 27 days in a row - and tadaa - you have started a business.

  5. 2

    Best Monday morning read 👏

    1. 1

      I appreciate that compliment a lot @ulrichgero!

  6. 2

    Do you think “small” ideas are less work than “big” ideas to execute? If not, than what’s wrong with aiming big, and seeing how big the market ends up being?

    1. 1

      Ultimately, I think you should aim as big as your end goals dictate. What's the level that is required by the life you want to live?

      That could be reaching $1M per year. Or $10M. It's up to you. So nothing wrong with aiming big.

      But most of us will try to get there too fast. Failing to get to even $10K. And then quit.

      However, I think many could reach $1. Or $100. Or $1,000. And that already teaches so much.

      You'll be more ready on the next round. Reaching $1,000 in total sales for a company lifetime is not a failure in my books.

      If you can continue growing from there, that's great. But even if you don't, I think it's an accomplishment. It's the first big step.

      Unfortunately the reality is you can't live on $1k for every 12 months.

      That's why I propose to start on the side. Keep your job. Most of us beginners are average skilled (myself included). It's not realistic that I'll reach a sustainable level of revenue during my first year. My goal is to live off my company by 2025.

      Until then I'll keep it safe and have other sources of income in place.

  7. 2

    Great post and resources. Thanks for sharing

  8. 1

    Great read, thanks for sharing!

  9. 1

    Thanks for mentioning DocTemple, but I'm afraid I'm still owner of this project which means I didn't sold it :) Where did you get that information from?

    1. 1

      Dang! Sorry for the false info @jeandesuis. I read a story about it somewhere on IH. Must have mixed the companies or then I understood something wrong. Will fix this asap and check where I got it.

      1. 1

        @jeandesuis so somehow I got mixed up reading an older post of yours where you got an offer for $10k - and didn't sell. Sorry again, bad fact checking on my part. I'll fix it this to all versions of the article. Thanks for bringing it up!

        1. 1

          @timosarkka no problem at all. I put it on sale for $10k earlier and then changed to $15k, but so far no one got allured by that price so I develop it further. Thanks for mentioning though, I found it because of a sudden spike in Google Analytics :)

          1. 2

            Haha, no worries. Let me know if you sell it so I can add DocTemple back :D

            1. 1

              Haha, lol! :D BUT you can add it to Cases (if it fits of course) where DocTemple already made $4,000 - from lifetime deal plans so it's non-recurring, but still some money 8-)

              1. 1

                Why not! Would love to hear your brief version of the story. Can I DM you somewhere?

                  1. 1

                    Thanks! But I think your DMs are not open.

                    1. 1

                      Ahh, true! Thanks for noticing - just opened. Please try now so I'm sure I opened it

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