It might sound a little sad, but most of the best businesses were built because of problems. People didn’t like the existing solutions, nothing on the market helped them, they couldn’t figure out how to make things work...
The businesses that are successful today are the ones who swept in and started solving.
When it comes to finding ideas, that’s a key thing to keep in mind: just any idea won’t make for a good business; you need an idea that fixes, improves, or solves something. After all: it’s much easier to sell a painkiller than it is to sell a vitamin (unless your vitamin really is the best on the market).
With that in mind, here are three ways you start looking for the problems that can help you generate great ideas:
Chances are that other people face similar or the same problems as you. If there’s something in your life that’s disrupting your everyday, start brainstorming a product or service which could solve it or lessen it.
Don’t be dismayed if there’s already a similar product on the market: if you haven’t bought it even though it could help you, think about why. Is it too expensive? Is it only available in one area? Is it the wrong size?
The guy who added hooks to clothes pegs will be comfortable for the rest of his life: sometimes innovating a product in a simple way can be enough to reach success!
Do you know people who complain a lot? Does everyone in the office hate a tool you need to use? Does your daughter dislike one of her college processes? Have you noticed any trends on social media?
If you’re part of any clubs, groups, or associations, listen out for repeated themes. If there’s a question a lot of people have, is there anyway a system or product could solve it/help them?
Even if you’re not looking to start a business right now, joining communities focused around your interests can be a great way to get your ear to the ground and start looking for ways to improve upon what’s currently available.
The problems we’ll face in ten or twenty years may be completely different to the ones we face today. If you’re someone who’s forward thinking and inventive, make a list of all the currently emerging trends – such as voice powered search and artificial intelligence. Then, you can start thinking about which problems we’ll be likely to face and potential solutions.
This one requires a bit more abstract thinking, but if you can drive innovation you’re onto a winner.
For example, Apple knew that the size of microchips was halving every two years, and that existing music storage devices were limited. To capitalize on future technology, they designed the iPod before the technology to build it existed! Then, once the microchips they were waiting for had been invented, they purchased the rights and started manufacturing a product that was way ahead of the curve, resulting in massive sales, success, and industry disruption.
If you know where your field is headed you can use that insight to develop some seriously impressive forward-thinking products.
Problems are the drivers of innovation. Curtains block the sun, clothes keep us warm, computers increase productivity, fridges keep food cold, ShopFactory makes selling products online easier.
Once you can figure out a way to make life easier, you’re onto a winner.