We’re always looking for ways to ease our pain big and small. There are tonnes of processes that fill our lives, some work well and some just don’t. For those that don’t, we either put up with it or look for a solution. But what if a solution or a decent one at least doesn’t exist? What happens then?
Enter the entrepreneur, or maybe not.
You see the reason why a lot of businesses fail online or offline is because even though they appear to be ‘good ideas’ that doesn’t mean they’ll be a ‘good business’. For those who are old enough to remember Clive Sinclair’s C5, even the more recent Segway seemed like good ideas but the rubber never quite met the road. Other examples of this include the Blackberry Playbook, Boo.com and Google Wave.
So where IMHO did they go wrong? Well they didn’t solve a big enough problem or in some cases didn’t identify a genuine problem in the first place. If you don’t do this early on then your customers aren’t going to know why they should use your product or service. They’ll consider other perhaps more established providers or just not ‘get it’ especially if you’re doing something new. Innovation alone isn’t a selling point unless that innovation is married to a pain… (There’s a really good husband & wife joke in there but I’ll leave it!).
But how do you know whether you’re solving a real problem or if the pain point is big enough? In the world of tech this is described as a ‘use case’ which really tells the story of who will use your product and why. For example Apple is very good at highlighting the uses of their products by showcasing apps. They rarely show off the tech specs on their ads but rather demonstrate how they’re used to learn a new skill, play games or share photos of your kids.
We also like stories and often replace the characters with ourselves, so tell stories of how your existing customers and clients have used your ‘thing’ to benefit them. If you’re already there that’s great, but for those trying to understand the use case it’s important to make it genuine. You may have a new technology you want to take advantage of or an innovative way to do something different in your industry, but if there’s no obvious application, shelve it until you can find one. If you have cash to burn, (call me first then) you could market test the product and see what people actually do with it; let the market decide the use case.
Either way, make sure you can see and feel the pain your customers are facing, provide a worthwhile solution and prove it works with a few of them. Once you’re at that point, pop some Champagne.