Solve a problem
Startups deal with problems, are capital intensive, risky, and high reward. If you want to potentially make a lot more than $100k in the next few years then, sure, go find a problem.
If you simply want to make $100k this year, then my choice would be to start a simple service business. No need to build anything new or solve a complex problem. The majority of SME businesses fit this mould really, everything from software agencies to recruitment companies.
Pick an area you have some knowledge in, start on your own, and execute to the best of your abilities. The main challenges are usually managing cash flow and the day to day realities of running a small business. But if you end up with 4-5 employees and stable cash flow, you now have your own earning power plus around 20% of the people below you typically.
That or review your CV, and plan the most aggressive route towards a position in a financial / high yield company, adding $100k to your salary as an employee could be feasible depending on your background.
Either way, the people who just stumble upon money are outliers. So the really short answer is just work harder and accept more risk in you decisions.
Edit: Those who downvoted, please provide the reason also. Happy to have a discussion. I wrote the above based on my personal experiences.
[Lowest payout] Totally guaranteed money - [Highest payout] Risky very unlikely money
On the left you have a salaried job. On the right a shoot for the moon VC startup. In between you have the entire range from trying to build products for 'passive income' on the side, to going alone starting a small cash-positive business, or freelancing. Your level of risk is entirely up to you, and the reward will usually be fairly linear, within your own earning capacity and skill set (money is fairly efficient in that sense!).
Working more hours or quitting your job fits into that scale along with all the other factors. If your appetite for risk is on the lower end such you won't quit, then you will have a harder time competing with people who've positioned themselves with more risk.
There will always be the outliers who just break the model though.
I agree that it is very difficult to find the required momentum. Some things which may help, based on my experience:
1. Divide the whole problem into subsets. Identify others who are having the same problem subsets, and partner with them to resolve them. This way, nobody has to divulge their whole business model/idea and yet can collaborate.
At the smallest level, this can be as simple as posting a technical problem on StackOverflow and participating in the discussion that follows. At a higher level, this can be something like identifying a common person to write content for multiple businesses.
2. Keeping intermediate easily reachable goals. This helps to ensure you have momentum, however small it may be. Reaching those goals also peps up your spirits, especially when you are working alone.
Allowing people to choose arrangements that minimize their taxes, is the opposite of how tax law is supposed to work. Taxes should be based on economic reality, not what you choose to write down on paper.
It seems you are conflating what is beneficial for you, with what should be legal.
could you expand on the reasons why you think it makes sense for it to be legal?
1. I need a cheap gpu powered pc, something like 300 cuda cores but with the ability to expand to 3072. I'm will to pay $1k for this plus the price of shipping.(Don't care if the parts are old)
2. I need to dress better. A service to pick out the clothes that I wear and should buy. Willing to pay $120 per year for this.
3. A book about how to make great conversation. The book needs to have tons of examples. Willing to pay $10 for this.
4. A book about 1000 ways to make people laugh. Willing to pay $10 for this.
5. A programmable human size android. That cost under $1k.
6. Designs to said programmable android. Willing to pay $100 for that. Should be able to hook it up to a 3d printer.
They set you up with a stylist, all the service aspects are free, then they send you a trunk of clothes to try. Pay for whatever you keep, send the rest back with free shipping.
I don't understand the motivation will be for someone to use a such service instead of building it by himself ...
The cost of building one of these is (20 * 50) + 700 = 1700. If someone can build one for me at $1000 I'm money ahead.
It's easy to forget that knowledge acquisition isnt free when you already poses the knowledge.
There's a big difference between building a one-off rig, and buying one, working with it for a year or so -- getting your code right -- and the knowing you can get 20 more (updated and/or cheaper) -- that won't have driver issues, heating issues or flaky psus. Sure, a contract can help, but whatever you get "back" in cases of failures are always going to be much less than whatever value you wanted in the first place (eg: the hardware ended up being free, but you weren't able to sequence the genome because of glitches).
In short, don't underestimate the cost to acquire the required domain knowledge to do such a task well.
One can always hope that the new Mac Pro will be successful enough that there'll be a decent Cuda story there -- but I'm not holding my breath. And after seeing what Apple did vs Final Cut pro and OS X server (esp: hardware) -- I'd be wary of trusting them with any production platform.
Personally, I have no interest in learning how to build computers. I'm not into hardware and have no problem paying a premium for someone else to just put stuff together, make sure it works then send it to me.
BTW, wasn't this Alienware's business model?
1. There is one exception though; the videogame console hacking scene.
I don't know/care that it's a gtx 650. Just a device that fits my needs. Apple abstracts/demphasises certain details to great effect.
There's an app for that: http://refresh.io. Better than a book since it customizes its data to the people you meet.
The other ideas sound cool but I haven't ventured into hardware hacking yet ;)
If you aim for $100M, after 3-4 years it is possible that you land somewhere between $5M-10M.
However, if you aim for $100k, you will land at around $0. If you aim for $1M, you will land at $50k. If you aim for $10M, you will land at $1M.
You need to aim for the stars if you want to land on the moon, because everybody and everything will try to prevent you from doing it. Aim for the stars.
How to aim for $100M? Try something crazy, something that other people will look at you suspiciously and whisper he's crazy is he?
Why? Because where is crazyness, there is magic and you will be the only one there, because somehow humans don't like to do crazy things, they like to stay within the norm, not create too much noise.
To become really successful, you need to be 1 out of a million. Some might it's very hard to become 1 out of a million. However, it's very easy if you're trying to do something crazy and that's all you need.
As for what to do, try to find a big problem that can be solved with a nice and sweet app that can be built within 2 months. It doesn't have to be hard to build, it can just be a little app, but you need to try to look for magic.
An example would be Snapchat, super weird, crazy, tiny app, magic.
Hope that helped.
Just get out there and find out what problems people have. Ask a bunch of people which websites/apps drive them crazy.
With a bit of luck they will mention ones that they use regularly or pay money for. Once you find a niche product idea, come up with a way you can test your hypothesis, Lean Startup style.
The unsolved problem space that is solved by building a website is shrinking year over year. It would seem obvious that you need a larger skill set to solve problems no one has attempted yet.
Someone took on all banks and all currencies ($100T/year industry). In 5 years, everybody will think that Bitcoin is normal, but it was just 1 big thinker that it took.
But that's how human history works.
1. Find an area with a lot of questions and not many answers. Create a content site. Attract 834,000 visitors per month. Advertising should net you $100K per year (this is an approximation and can vary a LOT).
2. Find a problem large enough for which a solution can be built with PHP and mySQL (since you mentioned that's your main skill set). Build a solution which costs around $25/month. You need only 334 customers to reach your goal.
How do you identify problems? Do some market research (using Google Trends, Amazon Top Sellers, niche forums, etc).
But setting that aside for a moment, why $100K? What does $100K get you? And why is money your goal? Do the thought experiment where "Poof!" the magic genie drops $100K on your bed. Sit there and look at it, now what?
You need money to pay the bills and survive, okay. But having it is rather fleeting, and when you die you cannot take it with you. Get past "money" and into "accomplishing something." When you have something you want to accomplish come back and we can opine on that :-)
Edit: this is why claims of finishing returns with the ratio of earnings/happiness are unconvincing to me, or at least setting them as low as $70-80k (which some people do) seems wrong. Additional capital produces happiness because it provides security -- I can afford not just to service debt, but to eliminate it, making me free to take a lower paying job in the future. I can afford to buy a house outright instead of just a down payment. I can fund my own business ventures. I can provide for the people I love. I can bend the law and government to my personal interests. I don't see a real cap where more money stops providing more happiness and peace of mind, at least not before reaching sums that make you truly wealthy. Any middle class person in America is still incredibly subject to the vagaries of fortune, and the more money you have the more you alleviate your risk.
N.B., I personally can't afford any of these things.
The fastest way to make money "now" is to sell something you already own.
The second fastest is to create a service business which pays for your labor.
The third fastest is to sell things for someone else, where they let you keep a commission on everything you sell.
The fourth fastest is to take a professional job (Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer) at a large firm, and work your way up to a senior position.
The slowest is start a company, build a product, make it successful, and then sell the company.
The tricky bit is navigating the path in a way that you enjoy or are fulfilled by. My observation is that not doing so puts you in a less useful place at the end of your life. But I by no means have a statistically valid sampling of that.
- is a down payment on a house.
- pays off my student loans.
- replaces our old clunker with a new reliable hybrid
- puts me 3-4 years ahead in terms of my financial planning
Yup, worth it!
Options after about 10 employees are worthless paper. The real cash is being an early founder and owning meaningful equity.
Another upside imo of this approach is that you can discern at a later stage which one of your projects is most successful and has the most chance of getting you to $100k YRR, on its own. This will allow you to decide if you want to double down on it or not.
Also, consider building things someone wants: I know, I know, easier said than done, but it's often a good place to start at what you'd like yourself. In a worst case scenario, you'll at least have 1 customer (yourself) ;-)
Central banking intervention into the US bond market to lower bond yields (10-yr bond yields fell from 8% in 1994 to 4% in 1998) for the benefit of bondholders bankrupted him. His neural net didn't predict outside intervention. After he lost it all, he became despondent. He shot himself in the chest with a shotgun.
So, if you were my best friend, I'd tell you this:
We are all Noah. We are all at risk of drowning in a flood of desires. Drowning in a flood of worthless, central-bank-printed, fiat currency. Build an ark, a refuge, to protect yourself from the flood of desires and self-centeredness that are drowning us.
In the Dammapada, the Buddha said, "Desires are never satisfied, not even by a shower of gold. He who knows that the enjoyment of passion is short-lived and that it is also the womb of pain is a wise man."
So forget about making an extra $100,000. We could go into hyperinflation tomorrow, and your extra $100,000 savings would become worthless overnight.
Stop chasing paper and do something worthwhile instead.
If you don't want to go that route, then go buy an establish website from Flippa, use your coding skills to auto-generate unique pages to rank in Google (content farm), then flip it months later for a profit. Keep doing this. How to auto-generate unique pages? One idea is to deep crawl old forums, and get an unique sentence and do an exact match search in Google to see if it's in the index, if not - assume that content is unique. Or go ping random blogs that aren't popular in Wordpress every second, scrape their content and put it up so Google sees it first. Black-hat, totally lame, but you just want make money, and I'm your son :)
1. It is not easy to add 100,000$ in a year; it is relatively easier to have a long-term strategy to reach that goal over 3-5 years. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon. I say this because if you try and fail after the first year, you should keep doing it until you succeed. To be clear: it's easier if your goals become: +20k in 2014, +50k in 2015, +100k in 2016.
2. It really depends on where you live, how much access to capital you have, and what your skills are.
2.1: where you live influences how much you can earn as a freelancer (of course, you can always freelance online, no barriers), how much you pay in taxes, how much business you can find around you. If we assume that you can work online as a software developer and similar, than this doesn't apply. Taxation does, though.
2.2: If you have access to capital, you can try to start a company, and make it profitable; then, sell it. Hard, but if you succeed, you probably can add 100k or more to your income.
2.3: if you can easily "sell" your skills, consider freelancing or consulting, even though 100k more in a year means a TON of extra work.
3. You might want to build something that you can sell; if that's successful, the sales can eventually surpass 100k. Examples? An ebook (scales better than a physical book), a software.
Problems I'd like to see solved:
1. I'd like to keep my photos and videos backed up, remotely, automatically; and have a much smaller (disk size) version of them on my computer; this way I can always consult my photo archive, but if I need the original photo, I can still get it from my online backup, from within the app/software.
2. I, too (like chegra), would pay to have someone help me buy clothes and dress better, but trust me this is a very hard problem to solve.
3. If I have a free weekend, I'd like a service that, based on my location, budget, and preferences, can suggest me 2-3 things to do with all details (fly to X and do Y, or drive to W and do Z, or drive to X, hike to Y, eat at Z, etc).
Hope it helps.
It might be a mistake if his goal were "solving a genuine problem." It's decidedly not a mistake if his goal is to increase his income by $100,000.
I put the list on GitHub and updated it with new concepts I found interesting every now and then: https://gist.github.com/ndarville/4295324.
There should be something there to pique your interest.
Also, sell your apps (make shopping carts, ads, website) before you build product. That'll save you tons of blood, sweat, tears, time and cash of building shit no one wants.
Finally, what people like is funny. It can takes time for things to hit so let them simmer. Don't give up or close down an app right away.
To make $100,000 -- you need to earn $273 per day.
To earn this much you will need 10 rigs.
Cost to get started is < 2k.
Buy 1 rig, use earnings to buy more. Try to get 3 rigs as soon as possible, using all available funds, then 1 per month for a year.
On top of that ALSO work a day job - your machines will earn you money in the spare time.
How much do you make now?
100,000 = price × customers (× months)
See which of the two foci suits your skills the best. Definitely don't start out with a free product.
100 000 = profit * customers (* months)
Shoot for large corporations with a new contract. They'll have a big budget handled by some managers who don't know how to handle such a sum of money. They'll hire consultants to do work that's been done within the company many times. It's just easier to hire a person than to spend time trying to find something or someone within the enterprise. The trick is not to charge too low but to charge as high as experienced consultants. You just need to look really professional and speak well during the interview (Duh!).
After a while, consultants repeat the same things over and over with different clients. They look like they work but they're actually laughing! I work at a major telecom company in Canada and what I've described above is not only common, it's the norm. I've seen processes on Word documents that took months to complete and when you look at the document's properties, you see it was addressed to another person/company! It was just an existing document repurposed for a new client with minor changes.
I'm not saying you should be bad like that, I'm saying that once you get your first contract, it's then easy to find other work that's not too hard and pays well. You can work full time for one client or part time for several and contracts usually go from 3 months to one year at a time.
Like others are saying below, you've got to solve problem. But that doesn't mean you've got to find a solution to problems that have no solution yet. I'm sure that's what you've been trying to do so far. You don't need to invent new things to be an innovator, you can be an innovator every day by solving someone's problem, one step at the time. Taking my example above, if a company hires a consultant, it's because they have a problem to solve. Once you're there, you can help them solve their problem and innovate on what they're already doing.
No, I'm not a consultant but I'm thinking of becoming one. I just need a little bit more guts :)
If you succeed, write a book explaining how.
... so in that case, are you ready to work 80 hour weeks? If you're thinking of adding a side-business on top of your day job than you really need to treat the side business as the second full-time job to hit the $100k mark, which is possible if you completely jettison all leisure and recreational activity from your schedule. Good luck.