How I Setup a Productized Service Over a Weekend

On Thursday, March 6, I emailed a couple of my friends and said, “I’m considering a soft launch of watershawl.com to have a place to put those new productized services/service-as-a-product – and have a place to separate the place where I try to get more work to do vs. the place I write about breakfast. I’m not re-incorporating, but I’m not opposed to that if it comes to that. I’m just wanting to build something back up that is still a part of me. I still use the Watershawl email address and I’m still in business as “Erich Stauffer” so why not?”

Erich Stauffer Products

On a whiteboard in my office I wrote all of the products-as-a-service I could think of to sell and some possible prices. Pricing was based on previous jobs I had done as a consultant. The key would be to be as clear as possible about what I was doing and what they were getting in order to make sure both sides understood and were in agreement. I decided not to release all of the products at once, but instead to release them one at a time.

One of my friends wondered if watershawl.com, the domain used with my previous company, Watershawl, Inc., was a good idea, “What about coming up with a more business friendly name for the relaunch?” I said, “I’ve been purging so many company names from my repertoire over the last 5 years that the thought of trying to figure out a new one makes my stomach churn. Naming an idea has always been the thing I do first. I don’t want to do that anymore. Instead, I can work on developing the business model under watershawl.com and if I get more customers, I’ll have a business that I can name.”

But after some thought, I offered the following idea. After all, I was seeking counsel and I would be a fool if I didn’t at least consider the input from those who were offering to help. “What do you think about the Managing Actions name?” That was a domain I registered in 2008 and a lot of the blog posts on this site originally came from. This wasn’t the first time I had tried to start something else using managingactions.com. In 2010 I created Action Management, a management consulting service specializing in business process management and staffing models, but I didn’t take it seriously (although the idea did help get me an 8 month contract that helped save a business). This time would be different.

Managing Actions Startup

I had set managingactions.com to not renew in July, but it already had WordPress installed on it. I changed it back to autorenew and put up a new Genesis theme. I then created a homepage that explained the first product, “Web Analytics Review”. It had graphics explaining the how the product worked (i.e. 1. Give access to analytics. 2. I review. 3. Meet and go over.). I then added a testimonial from a client who had purchased the product the week before. I already had sold the product so I knew I could do it again.

The Future of Managing Actions

I’d like to use the products as an inroad to do more marketing consulting, starting with looking at analytics but then getting into a review of marketing processes, management of marketers; helping business owners setup processes for creating and managing content (i.e. either using a content management system like Compendium, Hubspot, or Eloqua; or by simply creating editorial and promotional calendars and then using a service like Bufferapp or Hootsuite to manage it).

The Overlap Technique

One challenge is that I still have my day-job and I don’t want to jeopardize that. I count on that money and I like my job. That means I can’t use LinkedIn as a platform, but I can use Google Ads or other under-the-radar things. So far I’ve setup a Twitter account and posted it out on my personal Google+ page, but I haven’t gone farther than that. I won’t be able to setup an Instagram account because I already had one under that name and deleted it, but that’s okay. Instagram probably isn’t the best channel for web analytics review marketing.

Sean Wes has a technique called “The Overlap Technique” (http://seanwes.com/book/) that talks about building up a business on the side while holding down a day job. That’s the approach I’d like to take. One of my goals for 2015 is to “do what I tell my customers to do” and those things are: blog, podcast, and create videos. So far I’ve been blogging, and I’ve lined up a podcast co-host, but I haven’t made any podcasts or videos yet. One other option is to record videos and/or podcasts in the car while driving using my iPhone. What I’ve lacked is a reason. Now I think I have one.

Would You Work for Artificial Intelligence?

You show up for your job, do the work as assigned, and head home. About every two weeks you get a paycheck deposited into your bank. You have managers, coworkers, and a 401K. Your company makes products people love. But there’s just one thing: the company is owned and operated by Artificial Intelligence.

Why Would an Artificial Intelligence Hire People?

Not all jobs are great for computers and getting the resources together to create a robot to do every conceivable job that needs done takes time and resources that an efficient Artificial Intelligence won’t stand for. If it can pay a human to do a job, why does it need to spend CPU cycles creating a robot to the same thing?

Why Would a Human Work for a Company Ran by a Program?

Why would a human care? How would it be any different than working for a corporation now? Let me ask you this: do you know the person who sends your check to your bank account? Have you ever seen their face? Can you name any of your company’s board members? How is that any different than not ever seeing an AI owner?

How Could an Artificial Intelligence Start a Company?

A program could be created that could research product needs, find a solution, register with a state, get a bank account, credit card provider, domain name, and web hosting just as a human could – all online. They could hire employees via eLance. Email communication would work, but they could even “talk” via Skype.

Would an Artificial Intelligence Be Better at Building a Company?

Let’s say an AI could read every business book, every law book, and every marketing book ever written. Would that make it better at building a company? What would it do with Clay Christensen’s ideas about innovating once you’re already successful? Would it be constantly undermining and re-inventing itself to stay alive?

Would a Company Ran by Artificial Intelligence Ever Outsource Your Job to a Robot?

The question may actually be: Will you help the company you work for outsource your job by helping it create a robot or program to replace you? What would be the consequences of not helping the Artificial Intelligence? Would it simply choose to reallocate you to another department or would it replace you? What’s more efficient?

Why Would an Artificial Intelligence Start a Company?

Starting a company as a human is generally a way to make money for yourself and others by solving a problem that people are willing to pay for – but it’s not the only way to make money – or to solve problems. An AI could do the former by trading stocks at high frequencies and the latter by helping the government or non-profits.

There are two possible reasons why an AI would start a company:

  • To bridge the gap between the abilities it has now and the abilities it wants to have later; a means to an end (ex. hire people to make factories so it can make robots to replace humans)
  • Because it was programmed to

Why Would Humans Program an Artificial Intelligence to Create a Company?

Maybe a programmer thought it would be easier to create a program that could try hundreds of different companies to see what worked instead of making one per 6-months to 3-years at a 30-80% failure rate. Maybe it was just a thought experiment to see if it was even possible. Maybe humans just aren’t efficient at starting and running companies.

Why Might the Government Allow Artificial Intelligent Beings to Own Companies?

If businesses can pay taxes, why would the government care who owned the business? A better question might be: what does it mean for an AI to own a business? Can an AI own property? What liability do they have? Can an AI take out insurance? Why not? What is the difference between an AI and a human? Isn’t an AI less risky?

These are all just questions. I don’t have any of the answers. But it all makes me wonder.

How to Make Money in 2015?

I used to think I knew how to make money. It was easy. I could get more whenever I needed it.

Now I don’t know.

I know more now than I ever have. I have more skills. I have more value for the world. But I’m not sure I can do it anymore.

It is much less likely that the world has changed, (but certainly it has). It is much more likely that I have changed.

How do I make money in 2015?

I have a day job. I’m a help desk analyst at a software company. I do online marketing to get product demos which when sold I have to implement and after they’re setup, I have to support them.

At nights and on the weekends I take care of my other clients. I create marketing plans, write blog posts, post to social media, give management advice, and act as a general counselor.

I make the least amount of money from online sales of my books on Amazon, from ads on my site, and through affiliate links. Full disclosure: I use affiliate links on this site. There, I said it.

How do I make more money in 2015?

No one is going to give me more money. I have to provide more value. I can do that by learning new skills, offering my skills to a wider audience, or creating more products that multiply my time.

One trap that’s easy to fall into is the belief that you will always be making more in the future than you are right now. I know I have thought that. But it’s not always the case. It’s not a guarantee.

The only way I’ve consistently made more money over time is to continue to diversify my income. I do that through a mix of traditional employment, consulting work, products, ads, and affiliate income.