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3 ways successful startups solve consumers’ problems

August 21, 2014
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solutions 3 ways successful startups solve consumers’ problems

The secret ingredient to startup success

Starting and growing a business is easier now than ever. With a global, digital audience and a vast array of consumer needs, virtually any aspiring entrepreneur can identify and implement a brilliant new idea while pulling in legendary profits.

Although no secret strategy exists to guarantee one company’s success over another, a distinguishing factor of the most successful startups over the past few years has been their ability to solve problems. By identifying a point of pain in a consumer’s life and presenting a solution, these businesses have carved out niches for themselves in the marketplace that previously didn’t exist.

What is More Compelling to a Consumer: A Want or a Need?

Many entrepreneurs spend a great deal of time trying to decide what “next big thing” they can bring to the table. They think of products they already know and enjoy and believe they can create their own versions. However, they fail to consider whether the market for such an item is already saturated. The result is often a product that never gains the traction it needs.

The mistake centers on the faulty premise that most consumers are simply looking for “cool stuff” to buy. However, the sheer volume of available brands presents confusion and indecision among individuals who only have so much time and money to spend.



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This is why the businesses with the best chance of succeeding are those that focus on the problems customers need solved rather than which products they might like to have. By focusing on needs currently not being met in the market, companies differentiate themselves from competitors and become heroes to their customers.

How to Identify the Problem You Want to Solve

Consumers face countless problems on a daily basis; how do you know which one your company could potentially solve? For some, identifying a need to meet is a no-brainer. Others may remain deep in thought for months or years before discovering their calling.

As you begin your business, consider ways you or your product could:

  • Save time. A gadget or service that creates a shortcut for the user is a valuable way to solve a problem in today’s busy society.
  • Save money. Combining two or more products into one, devising a less expensive way to produce an existing product, or otherwise helping consumers save resources makes a product a worthwhile proposition for potential buyers.
  • Perform a difficult task. Household appliances are a perfect example of ways entrepreneurs have helped consumers make their lives easier and more convenient. More modern examples include fitness applications and mobile point-of-sale systems, which make previously complicated record-keeping processes simple and instantaneous.

The key is to understand what is happening in the market – particularly in the industry your current or prospective business seeks to serve. Explore new technologies, developments, and philosophies to determine how you might harness them to address a problem.

Characteristics Successful Startup Products or Services Share

Among the many entrepreneurial ventures that have achieved a sustained foothold in their markets, several common factors exist. This is no coincidence; rather, these individuals have discovered and tapped into the power and multiple facets of problem solving.

Beyond simply unleashing products and services on customers, successful startups exhibit additional qualities:

  1. They reflect the passions of their inventors. To create a truly effective and attractive product, an inventor must identify with the needs and desires of those who would purchase it. Orchestrate an item you would (and do) use on a regular basis and – as sources often state – “you won’t work a day in your life.”
  2. They tackle a problem from a different angle. Standout startups don’t present the same solutions as their predecessors and contemporaries. If another company is already using your idea, consider what they haven’t considered. Look for where a need still isn’t being met and decide you’ll be the one to meet it.
  3. They add to what has already been done. Google, Microsoft, Nike, and other highly successful companies don’t rest on their laurels, and neither should small business owners. Continuing to push the boundaries of what can be accomplished in one’s industry is how good companies become great leaders.
  4. They keep what works and improve what doesn’t. Customer feedback, lackluster sales, and low profits should be a warning sign to entrepreneurs that something isn’t working. Although one product or sector of your business may be running swimmingly, continually look for where pruning or adjustments are needed to keep the company profitable.

Although the current marketplace offers unlimited potential for entrepreneurs, identifying where their expertise is most needed is crucial to lasting profitability and success. It is no longer enough to create a novelty item and hope it sells; products must detect a critical void and fill it.

By paying close attention to the pain points of potential customers, businesses unlock the power of problem solving in entrepreneurialism.

Which of your customers’ problems do you hope to solve?

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. When he's not consulting, glued to a headset, he's working on one of his many business projects. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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