So many entrepreneurs have started businesses out of frustration.
Great businesses rarely start with the phrase, “Here is a cool idea…”
Usually it’s more like, “I wish…”
And it’s not just new businesses that start from frustration. A business can expand and grow if they learn to observe where the frustrations are with their customers and even people outside of their customer space.
Here are some thoughts on training your brain to discover frustrations and opportunity.
What saves people time?
Think about the last time you spoke with a friend or colleague. You may have asked them, “How’s it going?” They probably responded, “Busy.”
We’re all busy.
Now, whether we’re busy doing the right things based on what we want from life is another discussion.
The the world we live in today places an extremely high value on time. As a human race we couldn’t be living in a better era unless that era was in the future.
But right now we are in such a good place that we don’t really have to worry about survival. We don’t even really have to worry about reproduction. Those are two huge stresses off our backs.
No saber tooth tiger is chasing us. We have plenty of food available. We can open an app on our phone and almost instantly find a potential mate.
Our biggest worry has become time. We recognize, whether we realize it or now, that our time is limited. There is 100% chance that we’re going to die in the future.
So many businesses are creating products and services that save time. And people are drawn to them.
More time for what?
It doesn’t matter. We want more time to use however we want. Being with family, working, sitting at home watching Netflix. Doesn’t matter. We just want more time.
Look around for instances where people are frustrated by things taking up their time.
A meeting at work?
Huge waste of time. Super annoying and frustrating. There’s opportunity there for someone to create some kind of business product. I don’t know what, but there’s opportunity.
Commuting. Huge waste of time. You gotta think that virtual reality will be able to save people an incredible amount of time so they don’t have to commute.
Even little things. Interruptions. Someone interrupting you when you work. They walk into your office. They call you. You have to stop for a second, change your attention, then listen to them. It might just be a minute, but it doesn’t matter. We care about split seconds these days. Everything counts and whenever time is wasted we get frustrated.
What do people do over and over?
These turn into little frustrations. When you witness people doing the same thing over and over everyday chances are pretty good that it’s frustrating them. They may not even realize. Some may like their repetitions. It depends on what it is, but it’s a source of potential frustrating.
Think of the Keurig. People repeatedly would make entire pots of coffee. Or they would visit Starbucks everyday.
Keurig came along and changed that repetitive process. They made it easier. It’s still repetitive, but it takes less time.
Also, repetition is often an indication of something that can be automated or outsourced.
Grocery shopping. Do you often buy the same things each week? Probably 90% of what you buy is the same. Services are popping up that handle this repetition for you. It’ll improve greatly in the future.
What do people do that is kind of a “dirty job”.
Dirty jobs are necessary in a lot of instances. People don’t like doing them. People don’t like starting businesses to do them. There is often huge opportunity in dirty jobs and not a very high chance that new competition will come in.
It’s cool to start an app. Because it’s cool, there is a lot of competition.
It’s not as cool to pump septic tanks. But it’s still very profitable and you can almost guarantee a monopoly if you do it right. Who’s going to come in and compete against you?
It’s definitely an industry ripe for disruption.
I know that I kind of tune out people’s complaints. Who wants to listen to someone complain? But these are opportunities. The person you’re listening to probably doesn’t want to hear your solution right then and there, but you can take their complaint and develop a solution you can market to their general audience.
I know that I complain all the time about taking phone calls. It’s something I’m not good at. I think of it as a time waster. I complain about them all the time. I should be more aware of my own complaints. Those are potential business opportunities.
Things that can be outsourced. Things that can be automated. Or things that can simply be eliminated.
Every time you hear a complaint think to yourself, “How can I solve this issue?”
Don’t necessarily tell the person. Most complainers don’t want to hear solutions right then.
We all hear them everyday when we’re around people. Those are sounds of frustration. They’re little indicators that frustration is building to the point of a complaint.
Think the same thing, “How can I solve this.”
I remember being in the garage with my dad when I was young. He was working on something. He couldn’t quite figure out how it was done. He would sigh.
I do the same thing today. Little things. The lawn mower won’t start. The traffic light takes too long. The line in the convenience store is taking too long.
All opportunities. All business opportunities.
What can you combine to save people time and money?
Is there a reason I should have to buy a snowblower and a lawn mower? It’s frustrating. They both take up space in my garage. If someone could combine those I’d be super happy.
I bought a great one this year. I like shooting a bow. One thing I don’t like is needing to check the range before I shoot. There’s a new sight on the market that doesn’t require a range finder.
It’s a combination sight and rang finder.
There are also binoculars that are range finders.
It’s frustrating to buy multiple things when they should be combined. Think of your smartphone. 10 years ago we needed to carry:
- Atlases, GPSs
Talk about the ultimate combination device.
There is no shortage of business ideas out in the world. The trick is changing your mindset. Get excited when people complain. Get excited when you see opportunities to save people time. You’re not the consumer business or anything like that. You’re in the time business. You’re in the frustration business. That’s where opportunity is.