On building an information business: The problem is not that people don’t know. The problem is they don’t know how much they already know.

My wife is cleaning the closet in the house where she grew up. We ended up with two piles of stuff. One to the trash, the other to be sold.

The responsibility of selling my wife’s unwanted goes to my mother-in-law, who has been actively cleaning up and selling goods from her house after the second daughter moved out. She is getting really good at selling online. The house looks more neat and less cluttered. After learnin her pricing strategy, I know that she’s not selling stuff on discount. In some cases she jacks up the price by as much as 20,000%. Yes, twenty thousand percent. She’s trying to sell a deck of Uno cards my wife picked up at the dollar store 10 years ago featuring with the legendary Japanese baseball player Ichiro Suzuki for $200.

Over the dinner table, we discuss this new side hustle of hers. Turns out she knows a lot about selling on Merukari, the Japanese version of eBay and Craigslist hybrid. She explains to me about her techniques on taking photos, pricing strategy, packaging, bargaining techniques, and tricks and tips on saving shipping cost. Remember this is someone who spent her entire career in corporate Japan and never had the desire to start a business. She has only been selling online since she retired about 6 months ago. As an entrepreneur myself, I found the information she shares with me very inspiring, and I can feel that she is exciting about selling online.

I suggested she started blogging or write a book about all these little tricks about selling Merukari. She seemed surprised. She was surprised because she didn’t think that anybody would be interested in reading what she would write. After I explain to her how everything that she told me last 30 minutes could save me from weeka of research and many failures, that her eyes led up. She had never thought of someone out there wants to know what she knows.

Another example takes place at 14 timezones away from my mother-in-law. My dad who lives in California as recently retired. When he was still working, he often spent his weekends fishing. Tagging along with other fishing enthusiasts, they travel different part of the state to fish. Some times he comes home empty-handed, but other times he catches enough to share friends and neighbors. When he visited me in Japan last year, the only thing that he wanted to do outside is fishing in the ocean.

There’s a 24-hour fishing gear store in the neighborhood, and they have everything about fishing that you can ever imagine. My dad went there a few times. Each time he explained to me passionately about the function of each tool. I can tell he is really into it. As someone who didn’t know anything about fishing but would love to know more just to have a conversation with my dad, I was amazed by how much fishing knowledge he has.

My dad always enjoys conversations about business, so I suggested he started a blog to share his knowledge about fishing. I also shared with him some successful cases of how my friend in Okinawa started a fishing club and built multiple income streams from affiliated marketing for fishing gears makers to organizing events.

As a businessman for his entire adult life, my dad sensed the opportunity right away. Hiwever he is concerned about who will want to read information written by an amateur fishman when they’re much more experts out there.

In high school I signed up to perform magic in front of everybody in the school. You probably guess it, I didn’t know anything about magic. I thought it would be cool to do that. I had two months to prepare not to embarrass myself in front of about 1000 people. While I was trying to learn how to do magic tricks, I didn’t immediately return to David Copperfield which the master of magic at that time. Instead, I went to the library to look for books about simple magic tricks, I also visited the local toy store for those little trick toys. Once I became more comfortable with the small toys, I made large size replicas so they can be seen on stage. Eventually while I was getting more confidence and better at my tricks, I started making my own tools. I was never into anything remotely close to what David Copperfield does which involves hanging himself outside down on a rope above a bon fire while the rope is on fire, or try to cut someone in a half and put them back together.

The same goes to fishing. Beginners don’t copy everything Jeremy Wade does on TV when they tried to get started with fishing. People who tried to get started selling online don’t plan a multiple million dollar launch. Instead they look for someone who specializes in helping beginners.

There is this stage for everyone in every level, that’s particularly true in the information business. Before you can cook an egg you need to first learn how to crack a egg. And if there are enough people seeking for how to crack an egg, and you happens to be in the position of teaching it. You have a business.

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