The Four Categories of Economic Value and How It Helps You as a Writer To Come Up With Ideas

Sahil Lavingia, the author of The Minimalist Entrepreneur, says there are only four categories of economic value. Not only is this a useful way of understanding how to create new products or services for your business, but I have borrowed it as a mini framework to help you, as a writer, generate ideas about what to write.

Here they are and here’s how to use them as a writer to generate ideas.

Place utility

Place utility is making something that was previously inaccessible accessible. For example, you want a particular brand of a hockey stick, and the specialty sports store has it.

As a writer, you can use this to:

  • Share secrets that only you know from your job, hobbies, personal experiences, etc.
  • Identify counterintuitive ideas that you have come across

Form utility

Form utility is changing raw materials or reforming parts together to make them more useful. For example, Uber takes drivers of cars with low utilization and pairs them up with customers who want rides.

As a writer, you can use this to:

  • Identify alternative paths for your career or hobby
  • Take existing frameworks from different fields (like I’m doing here) and apply them to your field of work

Time utility

Time utility saves time. Amazon has 2-day prime delivery — much faster than the majority of other online retailers.

As a writer, you can use this to:

  • Talk about shortcuts — for your job, work, career, hobby, etc.
  • Share mistakes or lessons learned from whatever path you have taken

Possession utility

Possession utility cuts out the middleman. Cryptocurrency is a great example of this as it is a form of decentralized currency — instead of having banks and other middlemen take fees for transactions, everybody in the blockchain verifies it.

As a writer, you can use this to:

  • Curate ideas, lists or books according to a specific category (e.g., personal development, productivity, time management)
  • Share the best takeaways or nuggets from the things you have consumed (books, podcasts, other articles) so other people don’t have to consume the same things

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