Cookies are used for the best experience on my website.

Accept Cookie Policy

No internet detected

Check your connection and try again.

Logo Image

No match found

Buy a coffee

I launched this blog in 1995. Since then, we have published 1603 articles. It's all free and means a lot of work in my spare time. I enjoy sharing knowledge and experiences with you.

Your support

Have you learned something new by reading, listening, or watching my content? With your help, I can spend enough time to keep publishing great content in the future.

Or, select an option below:

A small slice of my data processing time each month

It's ongoing work running this site and what's really great is ongoing support. Here's a sense of what goes into this site: research topics for discussion. Manage the Tech stuff: website, SEO, graphics, email, back-end servers, DNS routing, edge servers. Create advertisements and load the campaigns in Google Ads. Manage the social media forums (Facebook, Reddit, Twitter). Write updates to the blog. Keep GitHub up-to-date.

$4.50 — A large cappuccino at my local

Things just work better with coffee! I like to take the kids to school then grab a cappuccino from my local on the way home before beginning the things that take mental energy.

$8.99 — A month of Netflix for some quiet nights in

A lot of the work on this happens after hours when I should be relaxing on the couch. Help me make it so and I promise to keep off the devices for a bit!

$11.50 — Fund a month of email delivery

This site sends out thousands of emails every month. For that volume and to ensure deliverability, I need to pay MailChimp.

$20 — Pay for one month of AWS storage fees

Websites are not free. The storage alone takes some cash. If you are willing to lighten the burden, we can keep this site up online.

$30 — One hour's pay for a graphics artist

Art doesn't create itself without a hand to guide it. I can't draw, so I need to pay others to help.

$45 — Pay a full-stack web developer for one hour

Much of the work on this site happens on weekends which means giving up time with the kids. Help me pay the developers so I can give my kids more time.

How Is Your Startup Going to Make Money?

It’s the most important question I ask — the most often — ⋯



  • 636

  • 2921

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0

Four questions founders need to ask right now.

I swear. It’s the most important question I ask — the most often — which returns the least specific answer.

How is your thing going to make money?

I mean, it’s not like I ask the question and get blank stares back. In fact, it’s the opposite. I usually get a wry smile and a rehearsed explanation about product-market fit, TAM, and disruption models. But that’s not what I mean. Here’s what I mean.

  1. A thing has a price, but that’s just a suggestion of what the people who sell the thing think other people should pay for it.
  2. A product does a thing, but that thing almost never justifies the price on its own.
  3. A market has money, but how money will be made from that market is almost always glossed over by the people selling the thing.

I know. Those are a lot of words that seem random.

But somewhere within that word salad, money has to be created. Yeah. Out of thin air. This is what separates products that make money from really cool products that fail.

Just so you don’t think I’m making this up, here are some simple examples of how money gets created out of thin air:

  1. The thing replaces one or more necessary things at a fraction of the cost, creating new money that can be used to buy the thing,
  2. The thing saves time, and people who value their time more than the cost of the thing will use that time to create new money.
  3. The thing produces a benefit, and when that benefit can be quantified, it can be haggled into new money.
  4. And, usually in a B2B sense, the thing generates revenue, and the margin on that revenue is new money.


Just because you can envision your business selling a customer a product, that doesn’t mean they’ll create new money with it. At all. And if they can’t, they’ll never buy it. At least not the price you’re charging them.

Even when you’re lucky enough to get a product into a customer’s hands, if they can’t generate new money with it, you’ll be creating an army of unhappy customers, which leads to bad word of mouth, which eventually reduces the value of the product to zero over time.

Here are the most popular ways I’ve seen this play out:

  1. Software and apps that do really cool things but have no business justification.
  2. Programs and services that lack a customer onboarding and engagement path.
  3. Marketplaces that bring customers and vendors together without adding any value to the transaction.
  4. Subscriptions that don’t increase in usefulness the longer they’re held.

All of these examples are shortcuts to an actual business model. Technology for technology’s sake. Things that exist because they can, not because they’re necessary.

At the end of the day, I’d rather have ugly software that does very little beyond what the customer needs. Or a product that is perceived to be expensive, rather than break that price into monthly installments.

So how do you get past this? Ask yourself these four questions:

  1. Would I feel comfortable charging three times the price for the same product?
  2. What’s the actual dollar amount of new money creation I would guarantee as a minimum to any customer?
  3. If my competitors (or vendors in a marketplace model), cut their prices by 50%, would my customers stay with me?
  4. What happens to my customer if I take my product away?

And if you’re comfortable with all your answers to these questions, I implore you to start asking your customers or potential customers the same questions. If their answers match, your thing is going to create tons of money.

This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.