I recently read a great article about the importance of focusing on problems vs. ideas from Wall Street Journal; it had me thinking about what kind of information we’ve been sharing as bloggers, entrepreneurs, and freelancers.
You see, we’re so wrapped up in the mindset that “I just need one good idea” to make it that we forget that the only reason people are going to buy – is to solve a problem.
To get focused: it’s the problem, not ideas, that should be driving your business.
The problem solver entrepreneur
When I put together my PLR website, PLRArticlesNow.com, I didn’t even realize that I was inherently solving a problem with my writing. In my mind, I wanted to create a secondary source of income based around what I had already been doing – writing.
What I found out was that the problem being solved was time.
My articles were the solution to time stressed bloggers and business website owners so it made perfect sense for them to spend money on the articles vs. an enormous amount of time writing them.
This is really the basis for all the major industries we see today:
- People had trouble finding information online – Google was born.
- The phone market was clunky and non-engaging – the iPhone was born.
- Families didn’t have time to sit around for dinner – McDonald’s was born.
These are all solution to the very basic problems of existence: not enough time.
There are other main elements of business focus and niche selection but I truly do think that this pressure and stress of knowing you have a finite amount of time to live is what drives people to seek efficient tools and resources.
Why walk for months when you could invent the wheel and get there faster?
Even entertainment can be a problem
The rebuttal to the “problem” solving entrepreneur is that entertainment really doesn’t pose a “problem” to begin with. I would have to disagree.
The inherent “problem” we have and why we seek entertainment is that we need some distraction from our daily lives – again, knowing that we’re going to run out of time. Even if it’s a complete “waste” of time, it’s still important that we divulge time into fun activities and entertainment.
I now look at my other projects around hobbies. They’re purely entertainment but they solve a problem within the community: helping people get started without forcing them to spend hundreds of hours learning the basics.
What kinds of industries do this?
- Netflix gives us instant streaming movies so we don’t need to the movie store
- Amazon.com lets us order a library of books vs. going to big box retailers
- Online games let us play with friends vs. doing so in LAN centers or their homes
It’s all about the convenience factor and time. There is a problem and these businesses solved the problem.
What it all means for you
I want you to get out of this mindset that “you need the perfect idea”.
Believe me, you can spend thousands of hours each year trying to think of the next big thing but the reality is that an idea if worth shit unless it’s solving some kind of problem because people pay for problem solvers.
If your project isn’t the solution for something and is just merely there for your personal entertainment than you need to reassess your business plans.
I’m not saying that you should give up on it if it’s your passion project but if you’re serious about building a business whether it’s through your blog or freelancing than you need to make sure that you’re offering something that takes care of people’s needs.
In essence, go form this to that:
- I want to make a website about raising turtles and post pretty pictures
- I want to create an informative guide that helps people maintain their turtle tanks
I know it’s not the most exciting item in the world but it’s relevant to the people that need that information. Hell, I have turtles now and I’ve been having trouble keeping the cage clear and clean even though I have a filter. I would pay for a simple guide that explained everything in detail and so I never have to waste time replacing the water.
Become that problem solving entrepreneur
I hope this rattled a few cords with you because it took made me reassess what I’m doing with a lot of my projects. I’ve found that the vast majority of the ones that work really does solve some problem where as the one’s I pour my soul into is directionless.
Once you’ve identified the problem – you can truly start hammering out the ideas that forms the solution. From there, business is all yours.
What do you think?