You don’t need a million dollar idea to start a business
When I was 12 years old, I wanted new hockey equipment for the upcoming season.
My parents didn’t love the idea. According to them, the equipment they bought me the year before was just fine.
So, in need of money, I started knocking on neighbor’s doors, offering to cut their grass for $10.
Just like that I was in business. And after getting a little taste of entrepreneurship that summer, I wanted to keep it going.
So, in the fall I raked leaves. And when winter came I shoveled snow.
As far as 12 year olds go, with zero business knowledge, I was making more money than I knew what to do with.
My point is, there’s nothing magical about coming up with profitable business ideas.
But for some reason we make it way harder than it needs to be.
We think we have to come up with some billion dollar idea.
Or do something no one has ever thought of before.
But that’s not how business works.
Businesses exist to solve problems for their customers.
And when you understand that, you can generate an endless amount of business ideas without much trouble.
Start by choosing your market
A lot of entrepreneurs get it wrong from the start.
They put all their focus on coming up with a product or service first, then they try to figure out who to sell it to and how.
But that’s a backwards way to approach it.
You wouldn’t start with a key, then try to make a lock that it opens.
So why would you start with a product then try to find someone to buy it.
When starting a business, you don’t start with your offer, you start with the market.
Why market first?
Because businesses serve people. And if you don’t define who you’re serving, how do you know how to help them?
And even more importantly, how do you market and sell to them?
Patagonia knows who their market is. Earth-conscious people who love the outdoors.
Apple knows who their market is. People who love innovative technology with sleek and elegant design.
And Rolex knows who their market is. High net worth people who like to show off their wealth with expensive jewelry.
All those companies know exactly who their market is. So they know exactly what products to create and exactly how to market them.
That’s what happens when you start your business thinking about your market first.
So don’t think about your product yet. First, define who your market is. Who do you want to serve?
Middle aged moms?
There are infinite markets out there. And no right or wrong answers.
It just comes down to figuring out what specific group of people you want to serve.
What Problems Do They Have?
Now that you know the group of people you want to serve, you can start coming up with ways to help them.
The best way to come up with solutions is to take some time to really get to know the problems they’re facing first.
Why do problems matter?
Because people don’t care about your product or service (solution), they only care about the problems they’re facing.
They care that they can’t lose weight.
They care that their golf game isn’t improving.
And they care that they’ve been trying for months to launch a website for their business but can’t figure it out.
So, as a marketer, you better care about their problems too. Because every pain, struggle, and frustration your market has is an opportunity for you to serve them.
It’s a chance for you to build a product or service that helps them overcome those problems.
So what does your market struggle with? What’s keeping them from getting what they want?
Why can’t they lose those last few pounds?
Why can’t they break 80 on the golf course?
Why haven’t they launched their website yet?
Do your research and get to know your market inside and out.
Make a list of all their pains, struggles, and frustrations.
That list will form the foundation of your business.
How Can You Solve Those Problems?
Now we can finally get to the good stuff.
Once you know who you want to serve and what problems they’re struggling with, it’s time to start coming up with solutions to those problems.
Because at the end of the day, people just want their problems solved.
And if you have a product or service that solves a specific and urgent problem for them, they’ll pay you for it.
That’s all business is. Solving other people’s problems at a profit
So how can you solve your markets problems?
Is your audience middle-aged moms who want to lose weight but don’t know their way around the gym?
Maybe you can do personal training. Or start a bootcamp class.
Or sell an ebook based on your workout and nutrition system.
Or start an online group coaching program.
Is your audience golfers trying to break 80 who struggle with their short game?
You could do online golf lessons.
Or start a membership site with videos of all your drills and practice tips.
Or make a course that teaches your short game secrets.
There are endless ways to solve your customers problems. You just have to come up with the ones that you can market effectively and deliver profitably.
What’s Your Next Business Idea?
It doesn’t have to be an earth shattering idea.
Start with a group of people you want to serve.
Figure out all the problems they’re struggling with.
Then come up with ways you can solve those problems and make a profit.
That’s your next business. Now get started building it.