There’s a pervasive myth that every great business idea stems from a ‘eureka’ moment. But outside of Hollywood movies, the journey rarely begins with a grand-slam idea. To start a business, start with a problem. Successful entrepreneurs are really in the business of problem-solving. Every entrepreneur’s journey begins with a problem that future clients will pay to solve.  

Problem Discovery 

Uber offered a solution to pricey taxis, Google made search easier, and Glassdoor removed salary secrecy.  The first step in uncovering the problem your business will solve is problem discovery. Begin with familiar territory, like your field of work or study, the place you live, how you spend your time— or how you’d like to.  

The aim is to better understand your would-be clients’ experiences—and maybe your own too. Some of the most successful businesses began with an entrepreneur’s personal problem! 

 Simplify your search by focusing on 3 categories of daily human problems: 

  • Functional. Some problems arise when attempting functional tasks like mowing the lawn, bookkeeping, or moving from point A to point B.  
  • Social. Other problems are social by nature and involve how we are perceived by friends, family, or coworkers—versus how we want to be perceived.  
  • Emotional. While all problems (and solutions) contain an emotional element, some are more directly concerned with helping people feel (or not feel) a certain way.  

Design Thinking 

To gain a better understanding of potential clients, consider integrating design thinking principles. Start with empathy. Your key role as an entrepreneur is to empathize with others’ problems, be they functional, social, or emotional. This means gaining insight into what would-be clients need and want, as well as how they behave, feel, and think—and why.  

 Design thinking offers many complementary techniques that help you harness empathy, like observing your target market (passive approach) and engaging with them via interviews (active approach).  

 Once you glean information with these techniques, it’s time to create an empathy map, a collaborative visualization which articulates what we know about the hopes, wishes, fears, and obstacles of future clients.  

Think Outside the Box   

The problem discovery process is ultimately a creative one, so it helps to venture outside your usual workspace to observe, ask questions, gather insights, and create as many empathy maps as possible!  

Once problem discovery is complete, the next step is ideation, AKA brainstorming feasible solutions. Like problem discovery, this is best done directly, via consumer participation.  

Need help? A YES Business Coach can help you every step of the way as you establish and grow your business. Contact us today! You got this!