Ever heard the saying, “Find a problem and solve it“? That’s what most entrepreneurs live by. But here’s a twist: Problems aren’t really a thing. They’re not something you can touch or see. They’re just ideas, and that’s important to remember.
I used to think entrepreneurs should focus on fixing problems. But I’ve realized that’s not the full picture. When we talk about problems, we’re not talking about people. And that’s where the real focus should be.
People, Not Problems
At a couple of recent startup events, this idea came up: Entrepreneurs need to find and solve customer pains. But the Lean Startup method says don’t build a solution looking for a problem. And that makes sense because problems are abstract. They’re not real in the physical sense.
Here’s how I see it:
A problem is a relationship between a person and a situation that makes them feel bad over time. Like, if you stub your toe, that’s not a problem – it’s an event. It only becomes a problem if the pain doesn’t go away or impacts other areas of your life.
And if people aren’t actively looking for a solution, then they don’t really have a problem.
The Real Deal with Problems
Some folks might not agree with this. They say people don’t see something as a problem until they see the solution. And sure, there are inefficiencies that smart entrepreneurs can turn into opportunities. But the point is, it’s harder to convince someone they have a problem than to find someone who already knows they have one.
Early Adopters are Key
It’s like this: you could try to sell ice cubes to Eskimos, but why? It’s hard work. Instead, find people who are already looking for what you’ve got. These are the innovators and early adopters. They’re the ones searching for new solutions, and they’re willing to try things that aren’t perfect yet.
These early adopters will give you feedback and even tell their friends about your product.
Don’t Chase Ghost Problems
If you’re working on a new market idea and think “everyone” will want it, be careful. You might be trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. And without a clear target customer, you could end up spending a fortune trying to create demand.
Focus on the Right People
The trick is to focus on people who are actively looking for a solution – not on trying to create problems. Your product then becomes an experience, not just a solution to a non-existent problem.
Remember, it’s all about the people, not just about problems. Focus on them, and you’ll find your way to success.
Throughout my life there have been fundamental beliefs, ideas and principles that have helped me achieve success in many respects. I’ve benefited from many different schools of thought and learned from mentors of all different backgrounds and philosophies. The way I live my life and the concepts I teach are a reflection of these different points of view.