So, you came up with that grand product or service that is going to make you successful and will pay for the life you want!
Is that you?
Being a Business Coach and involved in many student organizations throughout Europe, I am frequently confronted with this situation, and somehow I am a bit fed up with having to crush people’s dreams so many times.
The reason why is that they have come up with solutions before validating the problem they’re trying to solve!
A solution (idea) is intimately connected to the problem. In the early phase of a start-up business, the only thing you and your potential customers might have in common is the problem, not the solution.
So the only thing we can talk about is the problem. If you start talking about the solution (probably one of many possibles) your customer is missing parts of the story and can’t connect to it.
If you start your conversation with the idea, you limit yourself to your thoughts, and your customer is not involved.
If you turn it around and talk about the problem while involving your customer in a possible solution, everything changes.
The problem is at the heart of the solution
If you start your conversation with the idea, you limit yourself to your thoughts, and your customer is not involved. If you turn it around and talk about the problem while involving your customer in a possible solution, everything changes.
It is often much more difficult if you already have a product or service idea to start a business because whatever you do, you will always be biased towards your idea.
Here’s an example. Let’s say your idea is to develop an office chair that allows the user to exercise while working. In your head, you see all the advantages, and you have a pretty good idea of how the chair will look and work. If you now go out to speak to potential customers to validate your idea, you are not interested in their problems, but only if they would like your idea (the chair).
Can you see the problem here? The more detailed and precise you are about your product idea, the less you are likely to be listening to the real issues of your potential customers. You’ve already fallen in love with your idea – and you assume that the problem the chair is solving is a problem the potential customer would spend money on.
Take a different perspective
Let’s say your dream is to find a way to help office workers to stay fit while working and avoid the harmful side effects of little movement and bad posture. This does not define a clear product but talks about a possible problem.
What questions would you ask potential customers (office workers) to find out if your business idea will work? The first thing you would do is talk about the problem you’ve identified. If that problem is confirmed, it will allow the potential customer to become part of the possible solution to the problem. Making it his or her own. Do you see the difference?
Most of us are not Apple or Microsoft with lots of money for market research and enough backing in case it goes wrong. For most of us getting it wrong is disastrous.
A business idea is the result of your products and services
For me, a business idea is never a product or service. A business idea is the result of your products or services. It is the problem they solve not the solution itself. When talking about a business idea, think about the expected result…the problem it solves. There might be many possible products or services that solve the same problem. Why do you want to fix yourself to one solution only and what makes you think that your solution is a good one?
Making your customers part of the solution makes them happy and solid customers who will always recommend their solution to anyone who wants to listen.
Verify and validate
If you have a product or service already in mind, think first about the problem it solves, and validate that problem, before you do anything else. It might be that you discover that your solution is actually not really a solution or that the problem it solves is not really a problem people would spend money on solving.
I know it is not easy to think like that. If you’re a bit like me, with hundreds of possible solutions in your head for any possible problem you see, then not talking about the solution is difficult. But keeping an open mind is vital and by distancing yourself from the solution and focusing on the problem, removes all the pressure when starting a business.
If you want to know more how to do this, contact me, ask your questions and I promise I will take the time to answer.
Do you want to know my business idea?