The Sock Company That Didn't Start by Making Socks

It's easy to start with something we like to do and do it.

It's easy to start with something we're able to do and do it.

It's easy to figure out our strengths and make something happen through them.

You know what's not easy? Getting people to care about us doing those things.

A lot of people start here. They think about what they want to create, make it, then try and find people to buy it or consume it.

It's really difficult to create a brand this way. It's not impossible, but it's difficult.

My friend Sean McCabe posed this idea to me earlier this week:

"We often start with WHAT we're doing and then follow up with WHO we're doing it for. What if you started with WHO you want to help, and then figured out WHAT they need or want?"

I recently stumbled across the brand Bombas. They make high-quality socks, but that's not why they're in business.

In 2010, Randy Goldberg and David Heath found a quote saying the most requested clothing item at homeless shelters were socks, because socks can't be donated. They wanted to help get good socks to the homeless people who needed them.

Randy and David started with WHO. They wanted to help homeless people care for their feet and improve their lives even in a small way. Their solution was to start a sock company with a 1-to-1 model where when a customer buys a pair, Bombas donates a pair.

In less than two years, Bombas donated over a million pairs of socks.

They didn't start by saying, "We want to make socks". There are dozens, if not hundreds of companies already making socks. They started with a care and concern for a particular kind of person, and they went from there.

If you have a difficult time determining your target audience, it's because you're doing it backward. You're starting with WHAT you're doing and trying to match it to a certain kind of person, instead of finding WHO you want to help or impact and doing something for them.

I often say that what you do is never as important as who you do it for, and WHO you're for can help determine WHAT you do.