Tuesday 6 April 2021

In 3 steps, turn your frustrations into business ideas.

Do you want to come up with a successful business idea? Start with your daily dose of 'Fuck'. 

Step 1: Write down your frustrations. 

Find a notebook, ideally a pocket size. Even better, create a notebook on your phone (we all know you bring it to the bathroom, ewww.) 

Write down everything that stirs up that feeling:  “fuck this shit” (yes, this page is for an adult audience only). 

  • Did you go to brush your teeth and the toothpaste cap fall on the floor? 'Fuck' - write it down. 
  • Is your towel still slightly wet from yesterday? 'Fuck' - Use it quickly & write it down. 
  • Your kid threw a tantrum because he did not want to brush his teeth. 'Fuck' - write it down & pour yourself a glass of wine. 
You get the gist. Within a few days, you should have a pretty long list. Your frustrations are likely shared by thousands (if not millions) of people every single day. This is your business opportunity. I recommend you keep your notebook handy for the next couple of weeks. You are likely to come across frustrations and subsequent breakthrough ideas. Don't give up. 

Key takeaway: Turn your frustrations into opportunities. 

Step 2: Rewrite your frustrations into problems. 

The better you define your problems, the more successful you will be in coming up with valuable ideas. Your frustration is an outcome of a problem. Something is not working as you expected or needed.

Defining a problem is not an easy task. It will get easier if you first describe why the situation frustrated you. Give it a few trials until you get to the core. 

  • A toothpaste cap fell because my fingers are too big. 
  • A toothpaste cap fell because I tried opening & closing it with one hand. 
  • A toothpaste cap fell because it is small and not easy to screw on. 
  • A toothpaste cap fell because there is a toothpaste residue that makes it difficult to screw the lid on correctly. 
  • A toothpaste cap fell because the toothpaste residue hardens when exposed to air which makes it difficult to screw the cap quickly back. 

Rewrite the above details into a problem definition:  A toothpaste cap is hard to screw on, especially with one hand because the cap is small and toothpaste residue hardens over time around the threads, making it more difficult to screw on the cap. 

There is already a solution to some of these issues,  a flip-top cap. The innovator of the flip-top toothpaste cap came up with the idea to address most of the above problems. As he said, ''the flip-top cap permits consumers to open and close the tube with one hand while holding the brush in the other. It also eliminates the problem of lost caps.'' 

The flip-top innovation is a solution to some of the problems with toothpaste caps. It does not address the residue that builds up on the threads, interfering with the cap screwing on properly. So, maybe this is your niche! 

Step 3: Come up with solutions to your problem. 

As we covered in the flip-top toothpaste caps, coming up with a solution to your problem is also a critical step. This step will, however, not be successful unless you understood and defined your problem. Start this step only if you finished step two. 

Take a piece of paper or a sticky note and make an exhaustive list of ideas to solve your problem. Now, scrap all the ideas that are cool but do not actually solve your problem. 

Finally, evaluate your ideas and choose the best one. The simple solutions are often the best ones. After this step, there will be many more to come, such as prototyping, user-testing, more prototyping, and all that jazz. 

Key takeaways: You have to define your problem well, and the majority of successful businesses solve some critical problem. So, start your next business idea with ‘fuck this shit!’. Let's repeat it out loud.

Happy Innovating! 

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