The central message of this piece is simple: Stop looking for business ideas. Start looking for problems to solve. People’s problems constitute business ideas and opportunities. You cannot be a successful entrepreneur if your products do not meet any specific needs – and these needs must be problems that consumers are aware of and are eager to obtain solutions for. Many people are desirous of going into private business but lack the business ideas on what to do – they get it wrong by actually looking for business ideas because they may never obtain any or fail at the ideas they try out, they actually need consumer problems.
What Are the Consumer’s Problems to Solve?
People always have problems, and will continue to have problems. You also have problems yourself. And your search for business ideas is a problem in itself; it can be solved by a particular individual, and by a particular solution system. Problems are everywhere people are. In fact, people represent problems and problems represent people – and this means you’ll always have problems awaiting solutions wherever people are. You only need to identify people’s problems to identify business ideas. The moment you identify a problem that people face, then you have an idea waiting to be worked upon, and you only need to put together a product or service that serves as the solution to the problem. And this is where the big money – people are ready to pay you to get their problems solved.
Are you still asking what the problems are, or where the problems are? Look around you. Are things the way they are supposed to be within your locality, community, and society? Do people have complaints? People’s complaints must constitute ideas for a product to sell. There are personal problems, professional problems, family or household problems, consumer problems (food, shelter, clothing, etc.), community and societal problems, economic and political problems, among others. The constituents, make-up, or compositions of each problem is the ingredient for product and business ideas.
How to Come Up With a List of Problems to Solve
According to Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator, “The way to get start-up ideas is not to try to think of start-up ideas. It’s to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself…by far, the most common mistake start-ups make is to solve problems no one has.”
1. Be present in mind and body. Open your eyes and mind to what is going on around you and observe or take note of what people need or complain of.
2. Make note of things that you think people will need as you go through the day.
3. Listen to people’s complaints, problems, and experiences.
4. Talk to people and ask them if they have any problems and see how to get them solved if they are willing to pay for this.
5. Develop a survey. People feel easy filling out surveys because it gives them the kind of security and anonymity they crave, and it offers them the liberty to reveal their fancies and opinions without risks of being identified. This could be a good way to investigate what should sell to enable you research what people would need and are capable of paying for.
Photo Credit: r2hox