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Successful businesses have something in common: They solve problems



Ramit Sethi 2018
Ramit Sethi.
Courtesy of
Ramit Sethi

  • Author and CEO Ramit Sethi has helped thousands of
    people start their own businesses.
  • He’s noticed that the entrepreneurs whose businesses
    are successful have companies that solve a problem people
  • That means there’s an opportunity for anyone who’s
    looking for a business idea: What skills do you have that other
    people don’t? What can other people pay you to teach them, or
    to do for them?

When we think about
earning money on the side
, one of the first barriers that
pops into our head is, “How do I pick an idea?”

Right off the bat we overwhelm ourselves by thinking about how we
need to come up with the next billion-dollar tech idea like

But I want to help you think about your idea in a different way,
and this is something that those who’ve successfully built a
profitable business have in common: They were good at something
that helped solve someone else’s problem.

Yes, your business idea is simply a skill or knowledge that
solves a person’s problem and that they want to pay you
money for.

It sounds like a no-brainer when I tell it to you this way, but
you’d be surprised by how many people get lost in the weeds of
their business idea when it’s been staring at them all this time.
Through my website, GrowthLab, and through my flagship
course Zero to
, I’ve helped thousands of people start their own
businesses over the past 10-plus years. (Plus, I started my own!)

So believe me when I tell you the skills you have can be worth
thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. And yes, you can
start an online business around it. To show you that no idea is
off limits, here are a couple of real business ideas:

  • Teaching others to make EDM music
  • Helping college students ace their organic chemistry classes
  • Becoming better equestrians (no joke!)
  • Getting back into shape after pregnancy

These are just a
few successful business ideas
. If you look around,
inspiration is everywhere!

My message to you is simple: Don’t take your skill set and
passions for granted — they could be worth a LOT more than you

To get you started, I highly recommend that you read my post on

how to start your own business.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to be a world-class
academic or the BEST or most knowledgeable to make money using a
skill. You simply have to know a MORE than the person you’re

The truth is, we all have skills that we can use to
make more money on the side
. If you’re working at a day job
currently, you are ALREADY being paid for a skill. Plus, you have
outside skills and interests that other people want. Think about
all the people who have come to you related to your skills and

Has a friend ever asked you for style advice?

Have you helped your neighbor out with computers?

Did you set up your mom’s Facebook page?

We tend to ignore our own skills because they seem so simple to

It’s called the “curse of knowledge” — we automatically take our
skills and knowledge for granted and assume that everyone knows
what we know.

But other people don’t know … and they’re willing to pay to

To learn more about making money on the side, check out
Sethi’s detailed guide to

finding a business idea »

Ramit Sethi is the author of the New York Times bestseller,
Will Teach You To Be Rich
,” and writes for more than 1
million readers on his websites, and
His work on personal
 have been featured in The New
York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business

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