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I was listening to an interview with serial entrepreneur Miki Agrawal. In the interview, the outspoken author of “DO COOL SH*T” describes the three questions every entrepreneur must answer in order to build a successful business.

The problem: What sucks in your life?

Every good product solves a problem. If it doesn’t no one will pay for it. So instead of trying to sell something just because you can build it, look around. What are the things which frustrate you? If you can define the problem, there may be a product hiding in the solution. Thomas Edison didn’t like sitting in the dark, so he invented a light bulb.

The market: Does it suck for other people?

As Miki puts it, are you being a diva and letting little things annoy you, or is this a real problem, for lots of people. In my early days in corporate America, I wore pantyhose to work every day. Several times a week I would discover a run in the hose, usually right before I headed into a meeting. I thought my problem would be solved if there was a pantyhose dispenser in the ladies room. Unfortunately, I was one of only a handful of women in the company. There wasn’t much of a market, so I just sucked it up, kept extra pairs in my desk drawer and eagerly welcomed the transition to business casual.

If, however, unlike my pantyhose idea, your idea solves a problem faced by many, well then you have a market.

The commitment: Can you be passionate about this idea for a really long time?

Success rarely comes overnight. It takes lots of time, money, energy and other resources to bring an idea to the market. If you aren’t prepared to be in it for the long run, it is probably better for you to move along now. Looking back, if my interest in the pantyhose dispenser had been more than a fleeting idea, I might have looked at building it for women in other companies, but I just wasn’t prepared for the committed to the project.

The message: Can you inspire others

Miki had three questions. I would add a fourth. Having seen lots of companies come and go over the years, this last point is critical. Business owners rarely succeed all by themselves. Sooner or later the entrepreneur must be able to inspire others. Investors, lenders and/or employees must be able to see the vision to support the effort.

Walt Disney was such an entrepreneur. When he was building Disneyland, he insisted the castle be built first. Located in the center of the park it was impractical and expensive to build the castle first, but Disney insisted. Why? To him the castle was not just the center of the park, it was the center of the idea. It represented the magic of the park. Once it was built he was convinced others would see the park the way he did.

If you are thinking about starting a business, it is important to have a specific problem you are solving which is faced by many people. You  need to be committed to putting in the work to make it a success and most importantly you need to be able to engage others with your idea.

Organizing your ideas starts with a business plan.

Business Map

After you have organized your ideas we would love to help you create your branding and build your messages to inspire customers to buy.


Innovative Products Start with a Problem

by Mar 17, 2017