When you start a business, a brand or a project, there's a lot of work to be done. You must tell a story, build credibility and a permission asset. People don't trust you or believe you and you must earn their attention and trust. On top of that, you need skills, systems, machines and a team that works.

Quite an investment.

The goal is to reach the point where there's some harvesting going on. The first sales might cost you a hundred or thousand dollars each to make. At some point, though, you want sales to happen for free, people to show up with money. At some point, you want word of mouth to replace promotion and to earn back the money you invested up front.

That's why it's astonishing to me that people develop projects where harvesting is difficult or impossible. Here are some of the elements of a market where you are likely to reach the point where you can harvest the benefits of your investment:

  • Word spreads. You want a market where stories of your success and reputation will reach other prospects.
  • Needs are similar. You want a market where the skills you developed to help one person can also be used to help another person.
  • Budgets exist. You want a market where there is more than one player with money to spend (on you) to solve a problem.
  • Barriers exist. The market should reward insiders (like you) but make it really difficult for copycats to come in and steal share and lower prices.
  • Price should rise with value delivered. As your work spreads and your reputation increases, you should be able to charge more, not less.

I think 90% of all markets don't meet these standards, and given the choice, I'd avoid them.