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Episode 19 – What will people pay for? (It’s Just 7 Things)

When you’re starting out a business or looking to add a new offering to what you already have it can seem pretty confusing. You start to ask yourself an extremely important question – what do people pay for?

While we buy many thousands of different things, I looked for some stats on this and I found on a minimalist blog that the average American home has 300,000 things in it, there are actually relatively few underlying reasons for buying anything.

This is because fundamentally we are all humans with the same set of core needs.


We are nowhere near as complex and special as we imagined!

Well, yes and no.

Harvard Business School professors Paul Lawrence and Nitin Nohria wrote a book called Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices. 4 core human drives.

The theory that they put forward in the book is that our choices in life are related to core human drives.

The 4 core human drives that they uncovered are:

  • The drive to acquire
  • The drive to bond
  • The drive to learn
  • The drive to defend

We want to have belongings, to bond with others, to learn and to defend what we consider ours.

Based on this knowledge and also the experience of what I’ve seen working in the market place I developed The Buyers Circle.

The Buyer’s Circle

The Buyers Model

I find this easier to relate to when thinking about business ideas as well as what your people will potentially buy from you.

It’s a way of getting more specific about what people will pay for and breaks them down into 7 reasons people buy.

The Seven Buying Reasons

They buy to:

  1. To make more money – think investment advice or business coaching
  2. To feel better – think massage, medical services
  3. To have better relationships – think counseling or personal development work
  4. To save time or to improve performance – A lot of business decisions are based on this especially if you are a solo operator. I outsource a fair amount because it’s more efficient to save my time for money generating activities
  5. To experience – think holidays, extreme sports or luxury goods.
  6. To look better – this could be to physically look better or it could be related to status.
  7. To protect themselves – this could be preventative health measures or a service such as insurance.

If you brainstorm the last 3 things you bought it lines up.

I bought some sushi to protect myself from hunger, some audios designed to get my brain into a focused state for writing my book, so that’s saving time and improving performance and some tops so I can look better and feel better.

What are the last 3 things you bought and what are the underlying reasons why you bought them?

It’s interesting right?

One really interesting thing is the more reasons to buy a product or service hits the more compelling it is to buy.

The weight loss industry was reported to be worth $66 billion in the US alone in 2017.

What are the possible outcomes of weight loss?

Weight loss usually makes us look better, feel better, often we believe it increases our chances of having better relationships, increases performance (in physical activities), it enables us to experience new things and we are protecting our health. That’s 6 categories. It’s practically the whole circle.

So what about products or services that make more money?

In the online space people often ask the question – do I have to sell to business owners to make money?

The answer is no not necessarily.

It is true though that the easiest category of these for people to make the decision to buy is more money, because it’s a positive exchange.

They have a positive return on investment. You pay some money but you should get more back.

That’s why investment products and products related to business growth generally sell well.

Of course this is not the ONLY thing you can sell though. Look at the other six reasons to buy as well.

So this raises the question – should I choose a business idea based on The Buyer’s Circle?

Of course, yes, you want to choose a business idea that has potential to make you money.

But you also want to make sure you are running the right business for you.

If you haven’t already I encourage you to get your Entrepreneurial Design Profile. It’s at

You’ll get some specific advice for your personality about what kind of business is a best fit for you as well as the types of products or services that will suit you.

My business idea starter kit is also a great resource for working on your business idea. That’s at

Yes, your business needs to make money but don’t make the decision purely on the money. Think about how it aligns with your values, your skills, your workstyle (more on that in your entrepreneurial design profile) and how you want to life to be.

When you get that alignment between you as an individual and a way of earning your income independently of having a boss that’s when the magic happens.