Who do you think about when you hear the word entrepreneur? Elon Musk and SpaceX? Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook? Do you think you need to be someone like this to start your own business?
Let me tell you, now, you don’t have to be. Your small business marketing idea can be a great success too. There are so many opportunities out there, and success often comes down to one thing. Keeping it simple!
I’d like to share with you a case study of two men who saw a consumer pain point, found a solution, and turned it into a profitable business. They learned five important lessons from creating their company, that you can use now to start building your own.
And all new businesses need a support system. Check out my support system.
Case Study: The Longhairs
Before you jump to any conclusions… this business is catered to men with long hair. And before you think this niche is too small to be successful, you’d be wrong.
They started their business will the simple idea of Hair Ties for Guys. They focused on a small part of the population, guys with long hair. Their business now ships products to all 50 US states and over 48 other countries around the world.
Let’s take a look at 5 lessons from their business that you can use, right now, to start your own simple online business.
Lesson 1: Which Pain Point Can You Solve?
This particular company, The LongHairs, make (manly) elastic hair bands specifically for men with long hair. Yes, I know what you’re thinking… how can such a tiny niche become a successful company? Especially when stores already sell hair elastics.
Well, consider this. You’re a big dude…you know, a manly man, sporting beautiful long locks of hair. You’re on your way to dinner with your friends, for a juicy pulled pork sandwich. Once the plate arrives, you immediately dive in, leaning over your plate so you don’t drip juice down the front of your shirt.
But, your hair keeps getting in the way. Now what?
- Do you borrow your wife’s or girlfriend’s hair scrunchie?
- Do you moisturize your hair with bar-b-que sauce?
OK, so next time you’ll go prepared. But that’s the next problem. Where are hair elastics sold? Yep, in the women’s hair care aisle. Are manly men confident enough to shop in the women’s isle? Why don’t men have a hair isle? Their hair needs just as much maintenance as women’s hair, doesn’t it?
That’s where Chris Healy and Lindsay Barto come in. Both men, who met at California State University, started The Longhairs as a side hustle in 2013. They both saw a need for men with long hair, and have grown their business into a global brotherhood.
No matter how small the niche is, if it’s a problem people deal with on a daily basis, it can become a successful online business.
- Make a list of all the different groups, or “tribes” you identify with. (In their case, it was men with long hair).
- Come up with the “pain point” for each group. (Hair in their faces gets annoying).
- What simple solution can solve the problem? (Men’s hair elastics).
The idea here is to come up with a simple problem that you can solve with your online niche business.
Lesson #2: Quickly Validate Your Idea
Now is the time to see if your idea is a viable one. You certainly don’t want to waste a lot of time creating the solution, if there’s no one out there interested in it.
Ideally, you want to do this within the next two weeks. Too many entrepreneurs procrastinate at this point. They think they need the perfect business plan and product before going to market.
But that isn’t practical for two reasons:
- You’ll become one of those entrepreneurs with lots of ideas, but never succeeding at anything.
- You’ll waste too much time perfecting something that may never take off.
Take a look at this awesome video that Chris and Lindsay put together, in 10 working days, to gauge the response to their hair tie for males.
Did you notice they didn’t even show you the hair tie? That’s because they hadn’t created it yet. They first wanted to see if they could sell the idea, before spending time creating the product.
They thought up a minimal viable product they could sell and tested to see if people would buy it. If it proved successful, they could build out their business, but if it tanked, there was a minimal risk (time and money).
Take a look at this great infographic:
Affiliate marketers can quickly validate an idea by using a keyword research tool. Personally, I use Jaaxy, which gives me all the information I need.
Choosing a niche market with this type of tool tells you the potential number of people looking for your solution as well as the amount of competing websites online. With this information, you can decide if the niche is worth your time, or if you should come up with another.
Please read my article on Niches and How To Find One, to see how I go about finding a great niche.
- Take your simple idea, or niche, and try to validate it in two weeks or less.
- Create your minimal product or service, and see if it resonates with people.
- Publish your ad on various platforms (YouTube, Social Media, etc.) to gauge the response.
Lesson #3: Identify Your Tribe And Become Their Leader
As it turned out, The Hair Ties For Guys commercial was such a success, Chris and Lindsay had to pause to consider what they wanted to accomplish with their business.
They concluded that they wanted to build a global community of guys, with long hair, that never existed before. They created their new mission statement, which would:
- Advocate – for men with long hair to be a normal part of both the workplace and society.
- Educate – men on the proper care of their long hair.
- Celebrate – their long hair through meet-ups, competitions, and their identity as long-haired guys.
Chris and Lindsay found a group of people who were needing something, found a solution to their common problem, and built a business around them.
They stepped up to be the leaders and a trusted source of support, education, and authority for a tribe of men with long hair. The Longhairs are essentially leading their tribe. They’ve not only built a community of loyal fans but a receptive market for any future products they may develop.
Now is the time to step back and see how you can connect your tribe and provide solutions to their needs. Become their leader. How? Consider what Seth Godin says at the end of his Leading Your Tribe video:
- Who are you upsetting? Do you want to challenge the status quo? This is what a leader does.
- Who are you connecting to? You need to create a culture within this group of people. Make it uniquely theirs.
- Who are you leading? Focus on “who” you are leading, and commit to them.
If you can answer these questions, then you’re well on your way to becoming a leader.
Lesson #4: Educate Your Tribe
If you want to become an authority to your tribe (to your niche), you will want to consistently add valuable content to your website. You want to show them that you cater to their needs by solving their problems.
The Longhairs have done this by creating a weekly schedule of high-quality content to educate their tribe. Their blog and YouTube video library have generated much trust, which has their fans going to them first, for answers to their questions.
So you see, it’s not only the products which deliver the solutions but the connections Chris and Lindsay make with their customers, that have them returning time and time again.
Some important things to consider as a leader:
- Don’t speak like someone who has all the answers. It could backfire on you and ruin your credibility.
- Don’t come across as the final authority. You’ll be viewed as arrogant who can’t be related to.
When you create your content, consider educating from a humble position. You want your tribe to believe you are learning yourself and wanting to share your successes with them.
This way, you come across as approachable and trustworthy. It gives them the assurance that they can have the same successful results that you had.
Lesson #5: Commit to Consistency
When Chris and Lindsay launched their blog, they had only two subscribers… their mothers! They soon began to add friends to that list, and with a consistent blogging schedule, started to see organic search traffic.
A year later they launched their first “Hair ties for guys” products and saw modest sales. Followers started to leave comments, sales started climbing, and the community was growing.
Chris and Lindsay themselves attributed their ever-growing success to the dedication and commitment of posting fresh marketing ideas. A new, valuable, blog post each and every week. At the end of three years, on December 2, 2017, they posted their 156th blog post, celebrating their three year anniversary and never missing one week of publishing.
And it wasn’t only blog posts. They began creating YouTube videos, and recently, a weekly podcast. They even applied to appear on the TV hit show “Shark Tank”.
But no matter how busy they were, they never failed to post their weekly blog post!
If you’re serious about building a successful business online, you must:
- Pick your publishing medium (blog posts, podcasts, videos, etc.)
- Choose your content schedule (once per week, twice, etc.)
- Commit to it!
The Longhairs are an excellent example of a simple business set out to provide a solution for men with long hair.
Even though hair elastics have been available for purchase in stores everywhere, they created a tribe of followers with a distinctive problem that needed a distinct solution. They now have a tribe of true followers who continually seek out their help, guidance, and merchandise.
My hope is that you will be able to use these five lessons to help you start your own online business. Don’t let perfection and procrastination stop you.
- Start by choosing a tribe with a common problem and come up with a simple solution.
- Try to validate your idea within two weeks.
- Identify your tribe and become their leader.
- Educate your tribe, and finally…
- Commit to consistency.
The Longhairs have proven that these are small business marketing strategies that work. And they’ll work for you too!
But… if you would like additional support and all the tools needed to start your new online business, please click the image below, to read all about the platform I use. I will meet you inside for any additional support!
So what do you think about The Longhairs and how they started their business? Do you think the five lessons above would help you start your own business?
Please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.