In the first two parts of this series we examined how to identify problems that need solving and how to test whether there’s a market for a solution and what that market might be worth to you. Today we’re going to look at how you might go about solving the problems and how your users may be able to help.
The Hard Work
This is where the hard bit of entrepreneurial life starts to kick in. Finding a problem and ensuring that there’s a market for a solution is the easy bit. Solving that problem in an economic way is harder. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone.
Remember your initial research and the person who identified their issue? They’re going to be a very useful person as you come up with possible solutions. You don’t want to monopolize this person’s time – so you’re going to have do a lot of the donkey work in terms of ideas generation yourself (or with your prospective business partners if this isn’t going to be a solo enterprise) but you can occasionally go back to that person and ask them what they think of your efforts so far.
If, like most first-time entrepreneurs, you don’t have an awful lot of money to throw at a solution – you need to think on your feet when it comes to developing one. If you can get to the stage where you have a working prototype of your idea – you may be able to attract investment to turn it into a production ready concept. Until then, you want to use your labours and cunning to fill in the gap.
Consider working with universities on projects with major benefits – you’ll have to give up a share of the proceeds but if you can grab some of the finest minds available locally; it’s worth doing.
You may also want to look at where you can source materials cheaply; don’t forget that the town garbage dump often has a lot of recyclable material available and there are places like Craigslist where you may be able to find cheap second hand materials online too.
You might also want to develop your user personas at this stage. As you come up with solutions; you want to keep asking yourself – “will this really appeal to my target market?” For example, if you’re heading in a green direction – it’s probably best not to use materials that are difficult to recycle or which aren’t biodegradable. After all, solving one environmental crisis by causing another is often difficult to sell.
This can be seen clearly in paper versus plastic cups for water machines. Paper is very common; even though the environmental footprint (despite their biodegradability and renewable source) being much worse than the plastic cup’s. People perceive plastics as “not green” and won’t use them even when they are greener than the alternatives.
JP Morgan (link to image)
Chris Nodder, Questionable Methods (link to image)
No Talent for Certainty (link to image)