My Library and Courses
Last Update: Monday June 21, 2021

Key Idea: Fill A Need

You've heard, "find a need and fill it" many times. We say, "find a pain that people will pay money to relieve." This is the only way any business makes money.  Joe Dannis is deaf himself and didn't like the way he was taught to communicate so he changed the world.  He is our hero.

Key Question:


The difference between big business and small business is big business fills more needs than small business. While a big company like Microsoft has millions of people using its product, a small company like DawnSign press serves a niche market that may only have a few thousand potential customers. We learned from Andy Murstein at Medallion Funding to, "stick to your niche and you'll get rich."

Q: How did Joe find the need to fill?

A: He was the customer who asked the question: how can the deaf learn to communicate faster and better? Next, he got angry and in a way he has stayed angry all of his life. He was angry that deaf people were drug through the ordeal of learning as if they can hear when that was an big waste of time and effort and he's still angry that many don't agree with him. He said himself, to succeed in business, you have to "find the demand" for what you want to sell. We learned from Silicon Valley venture capitalists that they will only fund a demand-driven product. They don't want to slug it out for decades trying to convince customers to try a new product.

Think about it

What are your current customers asking from you? What pain can you relieve for current customers? What new customers could you attract with a new product or service?

Clip from: Dawn Sign Press: The Pain of Starting

Joe Dannis, California's Small Business Person of the Year

San Diego: What are the most commonly used languages in the USA? Answer: English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, French, German, then ASL. Yes, ASL. American Sign Language.

No less than 500,000 and as many as 2.5 million people use ASL every day. In this episode of the show language is subtlety transformed into hand, finger, body and facial combinations.

Take away any one of the basic senses and deep-seated creative power within the human mind is enlivened and focused interiority awakens. With today's micro-technologies, the deaf and blind are teaching us all about subtleties within language and our skills to communicate it. Here we meet extraordinary people in the midst of a revolution.

Joe Dannis is an advocate for American Sign Language. The Small Business Person of the Year from the State of California, Joe Dannis started DawnSignPress in 1979. He has always been out on the edge... being the first to advocate something new. Joe and his team publish materials to teach sign language for the deaf. Although he publishes videos and books for both children and adults, his biggest customers are schools and universities that offer courses in American Sign Language (ASL).

Today you'll meet Joe Dannis. He is one tough businessman, but he remembers nine very lonely years in the beginning. If he had to do it all over again, he probably would not. Learn from someone who has been over the hot coals and whose wisdom runs deep.

Go to all the key ideas and videos...

Dawn Sign Press

Joe Dannis, Founder

6130 Nancy Ridge Drive
San Diego, CA 92121

Visit our web site:

Office: 8586250600

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1979

Fill A Need

HATTIE: What does it take to be a business owner? What do you have to have inside?

JOE: It takes money to make money. I'm sorry to say this, but you can't start a business with no money. You can't run a business with no reserves. My family backed me up. I was completely broke. I asked Dad, `Could I borrow some money?' The business was really small, I needed to pay these bills, and that was the backing.

HATTIE: Is this a legitimate business? Can you truly make the kind of money you'd like to make, or do you just say `Hey, money's not the priority here, it's providing high-quality products'?

JOE: We are doing production. That is not going to make money. But there's a need for it, there's a big need forit. I couldn't do that before, when I was not as successful. I had to choose what counts, what will bring in the most money. You're trying to run a business. You cannot do it because I love to snow ski, therefore, I'm going to start a ski shop. You can't. You have to find the demand for it. Our problem is that our ideas and our inventions are ahead of their time. So it's brand-new concepts, and people look at it and wonder about it, and that's probably why our products last a long time.

Not a member yet? Learn!  Be empowered! Join us!