90,000 hours

90,000 hours

This is an archive of the Starter Story newsletter, which is read by 233K people every week.

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This is Pat, founder of Starter Story - every week I write this email to share the lessons we learned after talking to successful founders around the world. If you're not interested, you can unsubscribe here.

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Here are this week's stories, enjoy!

The booming industry of career help

Did you know that one third of your life will be spent at work?

The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime!

This fact can help us understand why the industry of career help is booming.

The biggest player in the industry? Obviously: American universities. The average cost of college in the US is $35K/year.

But let me explain why that is actually a great thing for entrepreneurs:

In terms of getting a career, college is completely broken, so anything that’s cheaper than the $35K college price tag feels like an amazing deal. In other words, people are already conditioned to pay big bucks for things that will help them advance in a career.

Let me show you some examples:

  1. This website makes $2.4M/year with content to help people land jobs in finance, investment banking, private equity, etc
  2. This website that reports software engineer salaries sees over 4M visitors per month
  3. This niche sales bootcamp makes $2M/year
  4. This stock website makes nearly $30M/year with content for investors, stock brokers, etc

More examples: 37 online courses that are killing it and 40 bloggers making up to $2m/year.

Why you should care

I think this industry is still super, super early. The pandemic made e-learning and Zoom lectures mainstream, and people are ready to pull out their wallets.

The examples mentioned above? They can be reverse-engineered for any career. Dentists? Tech execs? Product managers?

If I were to pick a career, I’d first pick the career that I knew the most about (I personally majored in accounting), but after that, I’d go for newer and trending careers (less competition).

If I couldn’t find anything there, I’d start looking at the highest paying careers. So many great businesses will be built over the next decades here.

By the numbers

  • 90,000 -> the number of hours people spend working in their lifetime
  • $10B -> how much the test prep industry will grow by 2024
  • 1 million -> the number of visitors Wall St Oasis gets every month


Looking for a business you can build on your own?

Find inspiration from our list of 100 profitable one-person business ideas.

100 real life examples of solo founders who did it without any co-founders.

Quick hitters

🧑‍💻 This super niche Chrome extension is making $10K/month and it reminds me of how much opportunity there is to improve admin interfaces. More examples: Jordan O’Connor makes $30k/month improving the Poshmark interface. Or $200k/month improving the Gmail interface.

📈 This 100% bootstrapped B2B app company just hit $10M in ARR. I think their founder is an absolute genius A+ marketer. I recently saw this video from them and it made me laugh because it’s silly and not your typical corporate BS.

🦴 This founder hit $2M in revenue in 2 years! That’s the fastest I’ve seen in a while. After my second year building Starter Story, I think we were making ~$60k/year (and I was pretty stoked about that). It just goes to show you the power of working hard and hitting a trend at the right time.

👩‍🎨 This founder is making $100k/month with an “unlimited graphic design service”. Instead of billing hourly, he charges a subscription fee from his clients. The bigger trend here is productized services, here are loads more case studies of people making money with services like these.

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Local popular food == million dollar business?

Let me jog your memory real quick.

Do you remember any specific foods or dishes growing up that you loved, that you can’t find anywhere else?

For example, a great restaurant or food shack in your hometown, or a special dish or dessert that is unique to your local area or culture?

What if that could actually be a big business?

Some examples I’ve seen recently:

  1. Marcia started a $600k/year business shipping this east coast dessert around the states
  2. Cameron ships this 10 legged creature around the US and makes $3M/year
  3. Milk Bar, which started as a modest ice cream store in NYC, built a DTC business that makes $75M+/year (although I suspect their revenue is higher than that)

More examples: 20 successful subscription box businesses (many food & beverage) or 350+ more food startup case studies.

Why you should care

This business idea is almost plug-and-play. Remember that popular dish or restaurant we talked about earlier? They’ve already done all of the product and marketing work for you (all of the hard work).

Those dishes and restaurants are popular for a reason. If a few people in your local area love something, there is probably a chance that a lot of people around the world will love it too. You just need to figure out how to reach them.

(and this doesn’t just go for food businesses)

By the numbers


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One last thing...

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P.S. Again, a huge thank you to Klaviyo - our sponsor at Starter Story. Try Klaviyo today!

Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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