Start With a Problem

A successful business starts with a problem.

“I’m going to create the next Facebook!” is not a business plan.

If you’re starting with a solution you are not helping anybody. Have you had a problem? What is a pain that you have felt and not been able to alleviate? You had to create your own pain killer. You have had to create your own solution to that problem. That’s when you identified that there is a gap in the market; nobody else is providing this solution.

Now you have a business.

Other people are going to have the same problem. Who are those people? Why are they experiencing this problem? What are the other options out there for solving the problem? And remember: status quo is one of your competitors.

You can tell your story about this pain. You understand the pain. And you understand the solution and how it has made your life better.

The problem does not have to be your own. Successful businesses can also start with the right person hearing somebody else say “I wish there existed X, in order to solve my problem Y”. That third party can solve Y.

If you are that person then work closely with the people who brought you that pain. Find other people who have that pain. Understand what is causing that pain. And work all this into your story.

There always has to be a pain …  start with a problem, build a solution, sell the solution: now you have a business.

There is also the issue of “sell before you build” versus “build before you sell”.

I’m a big fan of “sell before you build” and we will get in to that in a future post.

And it still holds true: you have a problem, you know other people who have the same problem … and then build that solution. Does that mean building a solution before selling it?

No, I am saying create the solution for you, which is how you know it works. That doesn’t mean that it is market-ready. You need identify a problem and people who have that problem in order to have a solution, in order to have a business. That is the correct order.

When you are talking to a business owner who says “I need more sales” or “better leads” or “an improved website”, … ask them “Who is this serving other than yourself?“.

Everything that has a business goal has to be about helping somebody else. If it is only serving you then it’s not effective and not fundamental to the business.

Find a way to help other people and you will find a successful formula for your business.