Stop Trying to Come Up with a Great and Unique Idea
“All I need is a great idea.”
This is something we always hear from people who want to start their own business. What happens? Nothing. Here’s some hard truth -
8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start a business fail within the first 18 months. Why? Because they put a chunk of their efforts in coming up with a unique idea and focusing on strategies to sell that idea rather than thinking about the people who they intend to sell it to.
If you’re one of these people who think they need a great and unique idea, let me stop you there. Right now. STOP.
Think about this - do you know what every successful entrepreneur in the world is getting paid for?
They get paid for solving a painful problem.
Don't just take our word for it.
Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2008 experienced firsthand how extremely difficult it is to get a cab one snowy night in Paris. Their solution? Tap a button and your ride arrives. This is how Uber started.
In 2007, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, were both struggling to pay their rent. Because of an upcoming design conference, hotels in San Francisco were fully booked. As a solution to their own money problem and a solution to those conference goers who would be without a hotel room, they thought of renting out 3 airbeds on their living room floor with a promise of cooking their guests breakfast. Six days after creating their website airbedandbreakfast.com, 3 people booked. And the rest as they say is history. Airbedandbreakfast.com is now globally known as AirBnB.
These two companies solved a painful problem. A problem that people are yearning for to be solved. Yet most entrepreneurs are still caught up with the thinking that success is always one unique idea and strategy away.
Listen to Your Market and Ask Questions
Stop racking your brain for that one brilliant idea. Instead, find that group of people you want to help, and whose problems you can solve. And then listen in and listen closely.
What problems are they having? What delights them? What makes them happy? What are the things that frustrate them?
You may uncover that the actual problems they have, are different from the ones you thought they had. Or maybe the current solution to their problems still needs improvement. Or they may even have a different set of problems that you didn’t realize you could solve.
Put the time and effort to understand the people you want to help. Listen to what they’re saying and be on the lookout for what they do. Obsess about how you can be useful to your market. When you do this, you gain insights that’ll give you an advantage in creating a product or service. Ones that will solve their problems and satisfy their wants and needs.
This is exactly what former CEO of Lululemon Christine Day did. She encouraged employees to get feedback from their customers from those who are buying to those who aren’t and the reasons why so. Folding tables were set-up near dressing rooms so staff who were folding clothes could hear exactly what customers were saying. Blackboards were even present in stores so that customers could directly write out their comments and suggestions. She herself, personally went around and eavesdropped on conversations to see how their customers interact in their stores. By obsessing about getting to know their customers and understanding them better, she had the insights straight from the source - the very people they intend on selling to. And therefore improvements made with Lululemon are tailored to fit their market’s wants and needs.
So stop wasting your time trying to come up with a unique idea and strategy. Figure out which group of people you want to help. Listen closely to your market. Go deep and really understand them. Solve their problems. Rinse and repeat.
Take it straight from the source! Listen to Andy Drish and Derek Halpern talk about listening to your market and more with this interview.