Sell Your By-Products

Here is an excerpt from the new book, Rework, by Jason Fried and David Hansson of 37 Signals.

Sell Your By-Products

When you make something, you always make something else. You can’t make just one thing. Everything has a by-product. Observant and creative business minds spot these by-products and see opportunities.

The lumber industry sells what used to be waste—sawdust, chips, and shredded wood-for a pretty profit.You’ll find these by-products in synthetic fireplace logs, concrete, ice strengtheners, mulch, particleboard, fuel, and more.

But you’re probably not manufacturing anything. That can make it tough to spot your by-products. People
at a lumber company see their waste. They can’t ignore sawdust. But you don°t see yours. Maybe you don’t even think you produce any by-products.

The rock band Wilco found a valuable by-product in its recording process. The band filmed the creation of an album and released it as a documentary. It offered an uncensored and fascinating look at the group’s creative process and infighting. The band made money off the movie and also used it as a stepping-stone toward reaching a wider audience.

Henry Ford learned of a process for tuming wood scraps from the production of Model T’s into charcoal briquets. He built a charcoal plant and Ford Charcoal was created (later renamed Kingsford Charcoal). Today, Kingsford is still the leading manufacturer of charcoal in America.

Bands don’t usually think about filming the recording process. Car manufacturers don’t usually think about selling charcoal. There’s probably something you haven’t thought about that you could sell too.

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