What the customer needs

It's right there, above 'safety' and below 'esteem.' Also, 7 other things worth a click.

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If you want to start a business, but you don’t know where to begin, may I suggest Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

It’s basically the advice I’ve heard over and over in the decade or so I’ve been writing about entrepreneurship: start by figuring out what customers need, and then find a way to give it to them.

Halfway up the hierarchy, above “safety” and below “esteem,” you’ll find two key words: “love and belonging.”

I won’t say that nobody’s ever gone broke by overestimating people’s needs for love and sex, but you could do a lot worse.

Co-parenting apps

Half of the fashion, literary and entertainment industries exist to help the lovelorn (or at least to profit off their lovelornness).

And, we’ll keep this PG-13, but there’s no shortage of online opportunities to make a buck, too.

There are dating apps, of course, but let’s skip past Match and Tinder and Bumble (regardless of whether you use or used them), and go straight to the category of apps that warranted a feature in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal:

“[S]ubscription-based websites such as PollenTree.com and Modamily that match would-be parents who want to share custody of a child without any romantic expectations. It’s a lot like a divorce, without the wedding or the arguments.”

Weird, counterintuitive (this is probably the one “dating” app where women would totally actually outnumber men, right?), and apparently profitable—albeit controversial.

As the Journal’s Julie Jargon writes (and I spent about 20 minutes searching to establish that yes, in fact that is her real name):

“[T]his digital approach could be seen as a natural progression. It could also be considered shocking or even, as some have called it, an affront to marriage.”

The Journal only profiles one couple that actually met through the site and got pregnant. Jargon writes that “although neither … went into this to find a romantic partner, the two say they have fallen in love.”

‘He shows up!’

That story sounds like the meet-cute from hell. Come to think, I’ll give it 50/50 odds of actually being made into a movie (that I will never see).

So let’s switch gears. A few years back, I read an interview that Sara Blakely, the self-made billionaire and founder of Spanx, did with Self magazine.

Three words jumped out at me, when the interviewer asked Blakely what advice she would have for her 25-year-old self:

“He shows up!”

The “him,” I assume, is her husband, Jesse Itzler, who is an entrepreneur and a character in his own right.

(I got to know him a bit a few years ago. I had a lot of fun writing about him after he decided to shake up his life by hiring a live-in Navy SEAL to whip him into shape.)

Blakely has a great story, not only about starting an amazing business—but also doing the entire thing herself, without outside investment. She's inspiring.

It always struck me, since I read that quote, that so many of us spend a lot of time wondering about things that eventually don’t require worry at all: like if we're destined to meet the right person, have a great relationship -- even get married and start a family.

It worked out for Blakely; she's now a mom of four. It worked out for me (eventually, long story). I hope it works out for the parents-to-be profiled in the Journal, and I hope it's worked out for you.

If not, there’s a probably an app for that. And if not an app, an opportunity.

7 other things worth a click

  1. Tesla is now the most valuable car company in U.S. history. (Marketwatch)

  2. Author Elizabeth Wurtzel, who wrote Prozac Nation in 1994 (among other things), has died at age 52. I didn’t actually know her, really, but she was nice to me when my first book came out in 2008. (NPR)

  3. Good time to cheat on your taxes: IRS audits of individuals have fallen to their lowest level since the 1970s. (The Wall Street Journal).

  4. Impossible Foods says it would be “stupid” to try to do a deal with McDonald’s, because it can’t possibly meet the demand. (Reuters)

  5. President Trump and candidate Mike Bloomberg are running dueling ads during the Super Bowl. Bloomberg’s will be twice as long—costing $10 million. (Politico)

  6. Sony says it’s building an electric car. (Clean Technia)

  7. Extraterrestrials? Absolutely, says the first British astronaut, they exist. “There’s no two ways about it.” (The Guardian)

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