While at coding bootcamp, my instructors, Bret, Trip and Daniel, got to talking as we sat in our van winding through the rice paddies of Bali. All impressive vets of the coding world, I like to listen as they chat because of their differing perspectives and brilliant banter.
One of them said something that stuck out to me as we were riding along - and it basically rolled around in my head for the rest of the ride. They had been talking about a new app they just heard about.
“Yeah, that’s what I like to call a solution looking for a problem.”
“Huh.” I thought. That’s a great way of putting something I’ve been observing since starting Chic CEO. Over the years, you can bet I hear from a lot of you. And you can also bet that I see a lot of solutions looking for a problem.
With your business, what urgent need are you fulfilling? What problem are you solving? You need to start with the problem, not the perceived solution.
A lot of new entrepreneurs start out with an idea they think is great, and then they get advice from people saying “Follow your passion!” or worse, “Do what you love and the money will come!” (If that were true I’d be a billionaire from eating mac n' cheese because I LOVE it, so trust me.) The statement should say “Do what you love and go make some sales - THEN the money will come."
We build businesses to solve problems, create jobs, make money, build something new, make impact and yes, help people.
I’ve heard a lot of ideas over these last few years that are really just solutions looking for problems. Apps are built, websites are created, prototypes are made, but what are they really solving?
Always start with the problem - not your passion. I know, I know… you hear from all sorts of fabulous business gurus telling you to follow your passion. I agree with them - but not when it comes to your business. Follow the problem - if you happen to be passionate about it - BINGO! You’ve hit the jackpot.
If you’ve said things like “I want to create an x that does y.” then you’re missing the mark. If you’ve said things like “I want to tackle z problem by potentially creating an x that does y.” then you are on the right track.
Always always start with the problem, not the solution. Put the problem in the middle of everything you do and brainstorm ways to solve it.
• When you create a solution first - you spend all of your time trying to convince people that they need it.
• When you create a solution first - you fall in love with your product and get stuck in something obsolete that never helps anyone.
• When you create a solution first - you aren’t truly innovating.
• When you start with a problem - you have the freedom and the space to create multiple solutions.
• When you start with a problem - you don’t fall in love with every one of your ideas, you fall in love with the best one.
• When you start with a problem - you have the opportunity to truly innovate.
Take a hard look at your business or your idea. Is the problem you’re solving in the middle of everything you do? Define the problem first, then enjoy the enormous space to create an effective solution.