When I first started CD Baby, I thought it was just a credit card processing service.
It was supposed to be a website that musicians would use to say, “Go here to buy my CD.” Just click to buy, charge your card, and then go back to the musician’s website. Kind of like PayPal, but this was two years before PayPal was invented.
The day I launched cdbaby.com, my second customer was a guy in the Netherlands. A week later he emailed to ask, “Any new releases?”
New releases? I didn’t understand. I asked why he wanted to know which new people are using my service to charge credit cards.
He replied, “Oh, sorry. I thought it was a store.”
A store? Oh! Interesting.... He thinks I’m a store! I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe if I set it up like a store, I’d actually be doing my friends a bigger favor, by getting total strangers to buy their music, too.
And just like that, my plan completely changed.
Five years later, Apple asked us to be a digital distributor. I hadn’t thought of that. But I said OK.
And just like that, my plan completely changed again.
Any time you think you know what your new business will be doing, remember: No plan survives first contact with the customer.