Starting a Business I: Finding a Problem to Solve

There’s one thing that all aspiring entrepreneurs need to have, and that is: a problem. Every entrepreneur must first identify a problem that needs to be solved before they can move forward with their idea...it just doesn’t work the other way around.        

But I have an idea! It’s (insert your awesome idea here) - I’m sure that it solves some problem, right?

Not necessarily. It’s never a good idea to try to invent a problem and then use your idea to solve it. What can end up happening down the line is you’ll realize that either,  A) your idea doesn’t solve the problem that you’ve imposed on it or, B) while it’s an awesome idea… there’s no real demand for it right now, it’s not addressing a need.

You can’t force people to want what you’ve invented. But if you take the time to assess the market and figure out what problems need solving and THEN try to find a solution to those problems, you’re much more likely to create a successful product that you know people will actually want and need.

Okay fine… but how do I find a problem to fix?

The world is full of problems, and the easiest way to find a problem to fix is to just look around you! What are some frustrations you feel on a daily basis? Chances are, if you’re frustrated by something, other people are too. By thinking of how to address the issues you face day to day you can find inspiration for a product that has a practical application and will likely be in high demand. But keep in mind that the need you’re trying to address should be something universal, not just a personal preference.

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There are three ways to approach your ideation process:

1)    Think of how you can improve upon an existing problem

Look at products that already exist, identify their shortcomings and find a way to improve upon them. Take Uber for example; for decades there already existed a tool for getting people from point A to point B: taxis. But Uber was able to identify problems within the taxi industry, issues like the inability to easily split a fare, complaints about drivers taking longer routes to increase fares, and the difficulty of hailing a cab. What Uber did was find a solution that addressed the complaints people had made against taxis. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, sometimes you can find a way to make an existing concept better.

2)    Adapt an existing solution to your industry

If you see that a certain product or service works well in one industry, figure out if a similar concept can be adapted to suit another industry that has a similar set of problems. LinkedIn is a great example of this. They took the idea of a social network like Facebook but made it business friendly, now it’s become the social network of the working world.

3)    Address existing needs

This is the more traditional route that entrepreneurs tend to take. Before determining what your product or service will be, study the market, ask the public questions and take note of common complaints and problems. Once you’ve surveyed enough people, you’ll start to get an idea of common pain points and start building a solution from there.

Awesome, I know what problem I want to solve… the rest will be a breeze!

Not so fast! Figuring out what problem your product will solve is just half the battle. Building a solution that is both effective and will generate demand is the tricky part. Fortunately, here at Bridge for Billions we can help you take your project from idea to ready-to-launch. To learn more about our incubation program sign up here:  

Bridge for Billions is an online incubation platform, matching entrepreneurs with qualified mentors. We guide entrepreneurs through the process of developing their business idea into a structured business plan through our Leap Program.