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Updated 24 October 18
Successful startup ideas are built from trying to solve a problem, not thinking of a product or solution. The thought of creating the ‘perfect solution’ can be exciting - so exciting in fact, that you can lose sight of the problem at hand. But this almost guarantees you bark up the wrong tree, and create a product no one wants.
By solving a painful problem in the world, you can create a solution that people really need. So, how can you adopt this problem solving mentality?
Look closer at your everyday life - it could be the inspiration you need to start a business. If you’re experiencing problems in your day-to-day, you're far closer to the problem and therefore more likely to be able to solve the problem. You’ll know the pain points and are likely to have the passion needed to fix the problem, especially if it has been on your mind for some time.
Think of some existing successful products in the world. Those products or services solve problems in every area of your life. Whether that’s to do with your friends, family and relationships, or even your life at work or personal hobbies.
For example, Skype was created to solve the issue of it being difficult to connect with people when you’re physically separated by long distances across the world. People wanted to use Skype’s solution because it made life easier and allowed them to forge relationships with people no matter where they were.
Having said that, this doesn't mean there’s not room for improvement. With technology like VR quickly progressing, the possibility for connecting with people remotely is endless.
In the world of startups “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” is something of a fallacy. Over the years, businesses have thrived off improving on the ‘tried and trusted’ and the ‘household names’, by simply offering a better solution. In fact, this notion of complacency is the reason why Facebook eliminated Myspace, and the entertainment retailing industry left HMV behind.
Just because the industry you’re daring to invest your time into is dominated by big names, it doesn’t mean they are problem free. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Just improve it.
“All problems become smaller when you confront them instead of dodging them.” – William F. Halsey
How common is your problem and how important is it that it gets solved? These are two key questions you should try to answer. A great way of figuring out the answer is by thinking like your end user. Speak to them, understand their pains. Create a ‘brand persona’ based on your assumptions of your target market, and then test it. You’ll then understand the value proposition, allowing you to enhance your offering to a wider audience.
The success of your solution will be measured by how well you satisfy their wants and needs, and whether you even solve their problem.
Embracing a problem solving mentality in order to start a business isn’t always easy. Afterall, if it was we’d all be successful entrepreneurs. Starting a business means developing a solid commitment to the entrepreneurial lifestyle, putting in a lot of time and effort, and pushing yourself to question everything.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers” - Voltaire
Your ability to ask the right questions is what will help you solve your problem. Whether you’re speaking to an influencer in the market, your target users, or even yourself; the right questions will garner the responses needed to create the perfect solution to your problem.