…and that’s good for business.
There’s a whole list of things I wish I’d learned in high school. It’s an eclectic collection of things that includes “what ‘rugged individualism’ really means,” “how to set goals that don’t suck,” and “how to keep people you’d like to punch in the face from knowing that you really, really REALLY want to punch them in the face.”
There’s a lot of skills on the list that will help regardless of where your life takes you, but there’s also a collection of simple facts that you’re going to have to come to grips with in your life. One of them—the one I’d like to talk about today—is that most people don’t have the slightest damn clue how to do the jobs they’re paid to do.
If you want to get political with that, you go right ahead. It’s not what I’m talking about here. Nor am I talking about the simple transactional nonsense that sometimes goes wrong. Someone screws up your coffee order. Someone gives you the wrong amount of change. It happens. The people doing these transactions do hundreds a day and a 99% success rate still includes failures and sometimes that’s going to be you.
No, I’m talking about the people who think they have the skills for a job but haven’t taken the time to learn how to do the job right. They aren’t necessarily unintelligent or evil, but they’re a problem for their customers or clients.
That means they’re an opportunity for you.
Fewer Problems Make for a Better Life
Let’s state the obvious.
We all have problems in our lives. We all wish we had fewer.
Some of them are big problems. If you have clinical depression or anxiety, that’s a big problem. It can affect everything else you do in life, often by ensuring that you can’t, or don’t, do it at all — big problem.
Some of them are small problems. Your wifi doesn’t reach your favorite reading nook and you either have to get it to work right, or leave your chair to download the next shifter romance when you’re all comfy and snuggled and don’t want to move — small problem.
There are a lot of us.
Those are all obvious, non-controversial statements, but have you ever really put them together to consider what they mean?
Every problem is a business opportunity, so the fact that everyone has problems means there’s an endless supply of business opportunities. Many of these problems are small, so you don’t have to make the next iPhone to have a viable business opportunity.
If You Know What You’re Doing, You Have Something to Offer
You’re good at something.
I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think I have ever met a person who wasn’t good at anything. I’ve definitely met people who don’t think their skills have value and they’re always wrong.
The problem is often that we’ve been doing something so long that we take it for granted. I didn’t realize writing was a skill worth having until I saw people getting paid a heck of a lot more than I was that didn’t understand what sentences and paragraphs were even for.
Sometime in the next week or so, someone is going to ask you for help with something. It might be a person at work. It might be a friend. It might be a neighbor.
You’re going to do it because it’s easy for you. You know how to do it well because you’ve put in the time to understand the difference between doing it well and doing it poorly.
That’s your thing. That’s the first kernel of your business. It doesn’t have to be big. You’ve heard of Fiverr. Their entire business model is connecting people who have small things they need to be done with people who can do them. Fiverr makes about a jillion dollars a day.
There are people out there who have a problem you can solve with the thing you’re good at.
Solve a Problem; Start a Business
Specificity is a great help to a new business. Amazon may have begun with the idea that they’d sell everything to everyone, but they didn’t try to do that right off the bat.
They started off selling books.
Sometimes when you finish reading or watching something, you want the next part right now. Not too long ago, you couldn’t get it right now. If you wanted a book, you had to go to a store and hope they carried it. If the book you were looking for wasn’t new, or if you lived in a rural area, finding that book might be hard. You might have to order it and wait weeks for it to arrive.
That was a problem.
It wasn’t a big problem in the grand scheme of things. We had other things we could read. We could watch TV. We could reacquaint ourselves with our spouses. It wasn’t the end of the world.
But it was a problem, until Amazon solved it. They could get us any in-print book in a matter of days regardless of where we lived.
They started with one problem and when they were successful, they expanded into adjacent problems, were successful with most of them, and expanded more. Now they have an entire ecosystem designed to make you a customer for life.
Problems Have no Cash
Problems can’t pay for solutions. People with problems can pay for solutions.
Look at what Amazon did. They didn’t just solve a problem, they solved a problem for a specific group of people. It wasn’t just readers who had a problem getting the thing they wanted in a timely fashion.
Even when Amazon started, we were all living busy lives. All the stuff Amazon sells now is stuff they could have sold then. They could have tried to sell everything, but they didn’t.
They sold one thing to one group of people. It was a big enough market that they could expand significantly while not being so big it would overwhelm their capabilities. It was a brilliant place to start.
You can do the same thing.
Sure, you’re unlikely to become a multi-national conglomerate, but is that your goal?
Figure out what you’re good at. Identify a problem you can solve with that skill, and a group of people you can solve it for.
That’s a successful business in the making. It’s not a guarantee by any means, but when you have clarity on those two things, most of your other decisions will be easy and you can concentrate on reaching your audience, optimizing your processes, and turning a good idea into a great business.