Like many aspiring entrepreneurs, I was inspired by the dorm room success stories like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk. Their success was exactly what I thought I wanted. Ironically, I had only barely made any money as an entrepreneur in any capacity when I first tried to get my "next big thing," unicorn software created.
The actual idea was similar to yelp + Facebook. A social media site where people could "rank" friends for various intangible traits like kindness, humour etc. I quickly realized that this idea wasn't unique enough and posed a massive ethical dilemma when it came to the high risk of it being used as a cyberbullying weapon of mass destruction.
So, I put software on the back burner and decided to get into some more practical business models. I started selling products on Amazon from my garage. Then, I started creating services for other sellers and dabbling with content creation and affiliate marketing.
But, the siren's call of software always called to me in the background. I wanted a software of my own but was now in a position that I wanted it as a part of my "passive income portfolio," rather than my ultimate career-defining creation.
So, I shifted. Instead of looking at the macro ideas like "the next Twitter," or "the Uber of," type software, I looked for the smallest solutions possible. If you look closely, there is no shortage of annoyances that people would gladly pay to alleviate in any niche or demographic. My goal became to find one organically and create the best, most straightforward solution to it and package it for others to buy.
Fortunately, there were tons of these sorts of opportunities in the space I was already a member of myself, selling products on Amazon FBA.
One big problem that was impacting every seller: IP complaints from 3rd party brands that posed an existential threat to their storefronts. If you get too many of these complaints, Amazon might suspend you permanently.
The problem: Certain brands were filing IP complaints against sellers and there was little you could do to avoid them.
The Solution: A tool that keeps sellers informed as to which brands to avoid thanks to a crowdsourced database of the offending brands.
With the help of a business partner and an ongoing effort to build up this database, we created a Google Chrome extension that did one thing: showed a pop up on Amazon if the brand was filing complaints.
Due to the simplicity and singular focus of the tool, creating the extension cost under $1,000 and it was ready in less than a week.
Currently, the tool averages over five figures in profits per month. One simple function to solve a simple but critical need. It's not going to make us billionaires, but the software has been a tremendous asset and welcome addition to our monthly income portfolios.
So, ask yourself, does success really rely on you making the next Facebook or would you be extremely satisfied with a smaller software product. One that requires less upkeep because it has minimal functionality. One that requires less upfront costs because it has minimal requirements for development. One that requires less ongoing capital for support, servers etc.
There are limitless software opportunities in every niche and you don't need to create a solution that does everything for it to be a success. Doing one thing really well is enough and you'll be glad you stayed small when it comes to support, updates, and scaling your marketing. Pay attention to the problems you have in your own business or life and see if you can solve them. If you can, you can likely sell the byproduct as software.