Entrepreneurs often perceive each of their problems as new solutions. “If I had the time, I would create a solution that uses AI to better manage the flow of cars in the city and there would be no more traffic!”
Ideas and solutions are things that more often than not appear easily in our minds. They reassure and value us. They prove to us that we have a good understanding of the world and that we are capable of imagining original solutions. In a world where we are one of billions of people, they allow us to distinguish ourselves. But like many inventors and scientists – Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace for example – this revolutionary idea you had in your shower, others did too! This is called “multiple discoveries”.
An idea on its own is worthless
Sometimes we focus on an idea that we think is worthwhile. So we try to validate that idea. We talk about our great idea to our friends) and we most of the time get an answer, such as: «I don’t really understand» which marks the beginning of a long discussion in which we argue until we obtain the agreement of our interlocutors. Most of the time out of empathy, sometimes out of trouble…
That’s where we should stop or lose the next few years of our lives trying to convince everyone that our idea is brilliant. It is not, and even if it were, people would not recognize it as such. Take the iPhone for example, when it came out, only a few thousand geeks – now called early adopters – rushed to buy it.
Starting with an idea is called having an Idea Mindset. Now, let’s try the Problem Mindset.
Let us imagine that every time we have an idea, we ask ourselves the question, “What problem does this idea solve?”
Once the problem is identified – and if it seems interesting – we just need to talk about it to the people we care about – not to all our friends! If you get an answer like: “Yes! We could do this and that to solve this problem! It would be great if someone could make that up …” it means that you are on the right track.
Later on, if you conclude, that this problem truly exists, and prove that a subsequent market do exist. You will then have to know whether this market is good or bad…. To do that, you have to make sure you have a good problem.
Is this problem valid?
How do we know if the problem we’ve identified is a valid? It’s both easy and difficult at the same time. It’s easy because it is enough to be in contact with people who may be experiencing this problem and need a solution. And it’s difficult because we just have to be in contact with these people and not seek a solution for this problem.
It is counterproductive to directly ask or question your targeted customers. You rather have to look and listen and understand the daily impact of this problem.
Apart from acute illness and suffering, people often do not recognize that they have a problem. It is, therefore, necessary to understand and feel what they need. Most of the time, they won’t recognize the problem until you put it into words.
Stay close to the people you have identified and you will see the real pain points and trends that point to problems. Don’t make up problems. And if you’re not sure that’s a real problem, it’s not. A real problem is obvious once expressed.