April 4: What problem are you solving?

In this early episode of Start Something, Columbia! show originator, Larry Jennings of Capsure Studios, welcomed Dr. Kasie Whitener of Clemson Road Consulting. This would be the beginning of a transition from “Grow Your Business” to “Start Something, Columbia!”

Theme for the day: What problem are you solving?

This week at 1 MC — Orvel Ronk of Ronk Security solutions. They provide security assessments and crisis planning for organizations. They also provide active shooter trainings for schools, businesses, and community organizations. Orvel’s business is security but it’s peace of mind he’s selling.

Topic of the week — What Problem are you Solving?
From Hobbyist to Entrepreneur: the workshop I teach at Richland Library, we talk about hobbyist businesses; you might have one of those. Here are some examples:
Example hobbyist businesses:

Matt’s Cornhole Boards – customized, regulation size, fine craftsmanship
Heather’s Matilda Jane resale business – high-end children’s clothing sold via consignment
Sarah’s String Art – custom designs in team colors, interests like super heroes, displays like medal hangings
Lisa’s Palmetto Timesavers courier service – carrying items like medical records, contracts, etc. across the state
Mike’s western novels – creating, typing, revising/editing, finding a publisher/printer

But if you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to be solving a problem.
This comes directly from the Lean Canvas — a business planning tool. The very first question is “What problem am I solving?”

Examples of businesses that solve a problem:
Google solves internet search
Uber solves taxi availability

Article on LifeHacker.com
“The things people around you complain about can be the biggest key to identifying where your time is best spent.”
Think about the problems around you every day and try to work on fixing them.

“Don’t just start a business, solve a problem.”
Focus on building a MUST HAVE, not a ‘nice to have’ product
Solve real, painful problems

Your business should be your passion — but good businesses are equal parts passion and planning; when it gets tough, you have to be passionate enough about it to keep going; still, it needs to be a viable idea, right? So plan your way into a successful execution.

How can you find a problem to solve? A great article on Inc.com:

Start with a brainstorm list: what are you passionate about? What is this town missing? What does society need? Some hot segments to focus on: clean energy, robotics, cybersecurity, transportation and artificial intelligence. The article suggests a Venn diagram, those things you’re interested in and the things that need solving, looking for overlaps.

Next, define the problem. Narrow that Venn diagram or brainstorm list to the thing you really want to attack.

Then, research. Are there people/businesses out there that have tried to solve this problem? How did they do it? Did they succeed? Why or why not?

Last, write your solution story. Use that Problem, Others tried, But we… structure to tell people what you do, why and for whom.

Other Lean Canvas questions: Unique value proposition, Customer segments, Unfair advantage, Early adopters, Existing alternatives, Key metrics, Cost structure, Revenue streams

Link to podcast here.

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