If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions. –Albert Einstein
I am lucky to have a naturally creative and inquisitive mind. This natural gift helps me to identify potential business opportunities frequently and easily.
It is one of my greatest strengths and yet, also one of my biggest weaknesses. It often causes me to become distracted and bored with tasks at hand.
Don’t think that coming up with ideas is the most important part! Ideas are easy relative to taking the action required to get them in motion. So take this process for what it is.
My income, relatively speaking, is earned through problem-solving. Every piece of content I have made, every product or service i have marketed all do something similar: they solve a problem that my audience has.
In it’s simplest form, everything I do either saves people time, money or peace of mind. We all solve problems each day, but few amongst us know how to monetize these solutions.
Identifying potential solutions that could be turned into businesses takes a certain level of mindfulness and practice.
If it doesn’t come naturally for you, good news, you can adopt a mindset that will make you much better at this.
Certainly, some problems may fall right on your lap, but I believe that it is important to understand how to find them consistently. Even if you have a good thing going, there is no harm in finding more opportunities! Everyone can benefit from adopting a “business building, problem-solving mindset.”
To know how to bill, contact and keep clients is important, but not paramount. What distinguishes a successful, product or service creating entrepreneur is his ability to solve problems.
But wait! That’s not all…they also need to be the right problems.
Do you have more ideas than time? Still read on, but here is what I recommend… If you have a ton of ideas and they are time bound (meaning if they aren’t acted on soon, they will become less valuable and viable) and you have more important obligations and projects, give the ideas away! Yes, you heard me, just give them away. You may want to take a percentage share for coming up with the idea, but I find an idea is better given away for free than simply wasted. Helping someone else succeed has a way of coming back to you!
The model I use is teachable and can adapt to many different industries and models, but more on that later.
So, here you have my 6 tips to help you identify problems and know if they are viable business opportunities.
1. Start with the Familiar
I recommend finding the problems that people face in a community you are already a member of. For me, this started with the Amazon selling community. I knew what tasks were difficult, time-consuming and unappealing. Once I did something, I would ask “is there a better way to do this next time?” If the answer was yes, I would then consider “is this something people would pay for?”
For me, this started with the Amazon selling community. I knew what tasks were difficult, time-consuming and unappealing. Once I did something, I would ask “is there a better way to do this next time?” If the answer was yes, I would then consider “is this something people would pay for?”
Once I did something, I would ask “is there a better way to do this next time?” If the answer was yes, I would then consider “is this something people would pay for?”
You are solving problems anyway! Why not consider monetizing the solutions if possible?
If there is a better way, people will often pay.
Wow, that sounds nice, a little misleading, but nice.
You have to ask yourself two more things after you identify if people will pay for your solution.
- Can I scale it enough to make a profit worth my time and investment?
- Is this “better” enough than the existing solutions to make them want to choose me over what they are accustomed to?
Some things simply don’t catch on because the “better” option just isn’t enticing enough for people to leave a product or service they are already satisfied with…we humans don’t like change!
When you are already a member of a community, you can identify what people need based on your own needs. The worst thing you can do is sell people what you think they need when you are not a member who needs this as well
2. Scratch Your Own Itch
If you have a problem, odds are, others have the same one. Create a solution to it and analyze it’s worth.
Since you are in the community (see step 1) you will be able to identify if it is worthwhile to others. The beauty of this: if it doesn’t work as a business, you at least created something you can use yourself.
3. Work Backwards
Think of problems or general hold-ups that you have already overcome.
Are there things that you do well that others may struggle with?
If so, you could have an opportunity there. You have solved thousands of problems in your life, try and recall those and help others.
4. Adopt a Problem-Solving Mindset
The first problem you find may lead to a sustainable business or it may not. By the nature of this sort of “creative” business, you should always be looking for the next one.
Grow your problem-solving value to others and the profits will grow as well. Be in tune with the world around you. Watch social media forums, listen to your current clients (or colleagues), create surveys. In essence, learn to be mindful of the community around you.
5. Be Negative (Sort of)
Question things with a “half empty” glass approach when searching for a problem.
This is easier for some more than others.
- “What is it about this that needs to change?”
- “Why does this annoy me?”
Of course, immediately drop this mentality for anything else in your typical day-to-day affairs. Consistently negative entrepreneurs don’t make it far.
6. Focus on Saving People Time
Depending on your niche, saving people time can be just as good, if not better than, making them money.
Ask, “is this the best use of anyone’s time?”
For example, in the Amazon community, a seller “makes money” when sourcing product to sell, making deals with wholesalers or designing private label products. There is a slew of other, important but time-consuming and unskilled tasks that need to be handled as well. If you have a service that can take time-consuming tasks off people’s hands, you may have an opportunity.
Also, could you outsource the unskilled labor required and still make enough profit to justify the venture?