There is a simple formula I use when speaking with other entrepreneurs and in analyzing my own businesses:
- Solve A Problem – Instead of researching and writing down a bunch of ideas, identify and research as many problems as you can. The bigger and more painful a problem is for people, the stronger and faster your business can grow. These problems might be in the design of current products that you can improve on or you might identify current marketing problems for an industry or you might be able to identify some daily pains in a group of peoples lives that you can solve. Basically, the more people who have a problem and the more painful it is for them, the bigger (and faster) your business can become.
- Be Passionate – What ever problem you end up solving and starting a business around, the more that it is part of your current lifestyle, identity and interests, the better. You will thinking, talking and dreaming about this business for at least the next two years….and more if you are successful. After the initial excitement wears off, it will take discipline and focus to remain dedicated to your business.
In this simple formula, the stronger each variable can be, the greater chance of success of you will have.
Here are a few examples:
John is a rocket scientist and while watching a group of surfers on his beach vacation, he realizes that a surfboard could be exponentially more stable if the board had an extra fin in the front of the board. However, John lives in Kansas and does not even know how to swim so he continues reading his paper and forgets about the design change. As you can see here, there was a strong problem but minimal passion.
Chris is an avid runner who runs up to 10 miles each day. He loves everything about running and it is the center piece of his life. It is his passion for running that keeps him motivated to do his daily run when there is 2 feet of snow and -10 degrees outside. In attempt to start his own business, Chris starts selling water bottles. After the first year, Chris decides to shut down his business become of poor sales. In this example, Chris had the passion but did not solve any problem.
Lastly, Roger is a professional guitar player who after 30 years of playing still wakes up eager to learn new songs and techniques. During all these years of playing, Roger and all of his guitar play companions are plagued by blisters on their fingers. And as Roger comes to find out, every beginner guitarist is also plagued by this issue. So Roger solves this problem by designing a finger cot which allows you to feel the guitar strings as normal yet the guitarist does not get a blister. Rogers company earned $10 million in its first year. In this example, Roger solved a painful problem and he had the passion to talk about his product everyday on its road to success.
Stepping back in your life, what are you passionate about and what problems can you identify?
To help you get started, you can use following Lean Canvas template to organize your list of problems and build them out to a business model.
Entrepreneurship is one of the most amazing and rewarding journeys we can endeavor on in life. You will experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but in the end you will be much happier than you could ever be working a routine and mundane 8 to 5 job.