TMBA 331: Productized #4 - The Evolution of a Business Idea

TMBA331: Productized #4 – The Evolution of a Business Idea post image

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Longtime listeners know that one of our favorite things to do on the show is to ask guests to donate business ideas to TMBA podcast listeners.

So, for the fourth part of our Productized series, Dan and Ian put out a call for anyone that has run with one of those donated ideas to come on the show and talk about why they picked up on it, how they got started and some tips for others thinking of creating their own service.

In this week’s episode, you’ll hear from Ben McAdam and Meryl Johnston, otherwise known as the Bean Ninjas. They share how they took an idea donated by Tristan King and turned it into their very own Productized Service business.


Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • How we decide which guests are going to be on the podcast. (1:15)
  • What made Ben and Meryl choose to start their business. (5:16)
  • How Ben and Meryl decided which roles they would each take in the business. (13:15)
  • What kind of advice they would give themselves if they were starting today. (18:23)
  • Some ideas for businesses that Ben and Meryl have donated to the TropicalMBA listeners. (27:22)

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Dan & Ian

Published on 04.07.16
  • Jonathan Kennedy

    I appreciated this podcast very much. I’m a big supporter of BeanNinjas and I think it’s hyper relevant for eCommerce entrepreneurs and Shopify store owners, who are big Xero users. I also like what Ben said about it taking time to narrow in on the ideal customer – but that needs to be balanced against understanding the risks in narrowing your target market too much. We’ve had a very similar journey with HeyCarson (small tasks subscription service or Shopify store owners).

    Ultimately, I think BeanNinjas was able to get good traction and will continue to, not because of the idea itself, but because of their execution and how they paired the idea with a sizeable market of software users – who need help executing on that platform – Xero.

    For us, the biggest challenge with a productized service has been hiring – it’s an ”always be hiring” situation. I’m always interviewing people and ultimately that’s what I’m really good at and how the service quality stays above average. It’s all about high quality people and it’s hard as hell to find and keep people.

    On a final note, we basically took up Tristan King’s 3rd donated idea from Ep 282 and executed on it. We are the only trusted 3rd party Shopify theme support team and we deal with the big 5 Shopify theme developers.

    Great show guys. Thanks!

  • Evaldas Miliauskas

    Coincidence again, as this episode got published I was recording a live show with Dan Norris on the same topic!

    Was following BeanNinjas for a bit before and really surprised you got them on the show. Its a perfect example and with a true story how to hustle up a business from zero.

    I liked the idea of finding idea’s for products and services from upwork to see what are the main pain points and how much people are willing to pay for. You could even find the first clients in there. I used upwork extensively right now, but more for finding people, rather than hiring and doing payments as its a bit a hassle to use it. Anyway good show and wish Ben & Meryl to reach their goals!

  • Awesome Jonathan. Nice seeing you at the Shopify conference :) Fancy a chat about that partner program of yours? Please email me if so, tristan [at] shopify ninjas dot com. Great to hear about your success!

  • Thanks Evaldas!

  • Thanks for the kind words, Jonathan!

    I agree about the importance of execution and hiring good people. We think we’ve got a good offer for the team (it’s a REAL ‘flexible hours from home’ offer), but there’s more to keeping good people than that.

    So far we seem to be going OK with keeping our team happy, but now we’re working on putting a management layer in place which presents new challenges. Hopefully we can take what we’ve learned about providing good service to CLIENTS through other people (bookkeepers), and apply similar logic to providing good service to our TEAM through other people (the management layer).

  • Thanks Evaldas, glad you enjoyed it :)

  • Thanks Jonathan!

    I didn’t realise HeyCarson came from a donated idea on TMBA too!

    Yes good point about the biggest challenge with a productized service being to find and keep good people. As Ben mentioned our next step is to bring in a management layer and then ultimately get them involved in the recruitment process too.

    We’re also trying different things to keep the team happy and engaged. At the moment we do a weekly one-to-one call with each team member, have in person meet-ups when we can and we have a ‘thanks and good new’s channel in slack where we share wins from the team and good feedback we get from clients.

    What strategies are working for you and your team?

  • woot!

  • thanks Jonathan! Curious to follow along with your story as well, so cool to see entrepreneurs helping each other out.

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