Solving problems for fame, fortune, and results

A long time ago (no, I’m not going to tell you how long), I was give some excellent advice. Before buying a tool/car/software/etc., determine what you hope to do with this product. If you’re planning to write the great American novel, you may need different features and functions that if you are planning to write a book-length dissertation on thermodynamics on the Moon. If you’re planning to drive around town every day for 10 minutes, you may need a different car than if you are planning to drive 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, on the highway and back roads. You get the picture.

In other words: what is the problem you are trying to solve? Figure that out first, then pick the tool/service/etc. that does the best job of solving it.

I’ve found that if you truly understand the problem, you are more likely to select or build a solution that actually addresses the problem – as opposed to addressing the problem that ‘most people have’. Just because my local hardware store only carries 3 types of pliers doesn’t mean that they have the right one for my specific problem.

Warning: sometimes your customers don’t have any idea what problem they need to solve. This can – as you might imagine – make your life as a vendor challenging. That’s ok. If everything was easy, you’d die of boredom.

The process of identifying and understanding a specific problem is beyond the scope of this post. (This book is a good place to start, though.) But going through the process is critical for the success of your business. If you don’t do it, you’ll end up creating services and products that solve the wrong problem.

Job boards were created to solve a specific problem: newspaper recruiting ads were too expensive, too limited, and not always that effective. That was the problem in 1995.

Ahem…it’s 2018. Maybe there are different problems to solve?

Of course there are. That’s why we’ve seen such an explosion of new sites and services during the past 5 years. Many of these have arisen because someone – a recruiter or hiring manager or ex-employee of a job board – had identified a problem that wasn’t being solved well, and decided to do something about it. Some succeeded, some failed. But the common thread among all were a willingness to ask the question: what problem am I trying to solve?

So…what problem does your business solve? Maybe it’s time to ask the question.

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