Looking for Problems

First published on December 18, 2012 by Gilbert West. Context is important.

Business Tips Startups

As startup founders you’re always reminded that the road to success is to solve a real problem.

If a never ending stream of ideas aren’t the thing that keeps you awake at night, but you’d still like to have a crack at creating your own business then how do you go about finding a problem to solve?

Listen don’t think

The answer as always, is listen. Or at least, read, in an empathetic way.

Start out in online fora.

You’ll find fora littered with , “Where can I find?”,  “How do I create?” type questions. Stack Exchange is great to the technical minds amongst you but they do cover diverse topics such as cooking, homebrewing, German language usage and Lego. Here’s the full list, but any well trafficked forum will do.

Fora can be pedantic, petty little places where a new member – often someone who has a problem and thought they’d ask what they perceived to be a relevant group – is often shot down in flames for asking a question that has already been answered or for being off topic. But they’re a gold mine for starting to understand customer pain.

Sometimes you just don’t realise what you do know and what other people don’t know and cannot / do not want to figure out for themselves. Give yourself some credit. That might just key to unlocking your business idea.

Next of course, you have to get up, step away from the keyboard and seek out these people in the offline world rather than just being a passive observer.