You Be The One To Fill Those Needs!
By Brian Hazelgren
Most of the books you read on the subject of finding a small business will tell you that the best place to start is with matching your skills and experiences to some business that requires those skills. For example, if you love to cook, they’ll suggest you open a catering business or a restaurant.
If you have a strong interest in something, think about the needs of other people who share your interests. This is important as you build your business because you should maintain a relatively optimistic outlook and have a burning passion for operating a small business. If there are needs to be filled, you should be the one to do it. Benjamin Franklin saw a need to create bi-focals for up-close reading. Eli Whitney saw a need to pick and harvest cotton faster. Henry Ford told people that there was a better way to manufacture products through an assembly line. Ray Kroc developed a keen eye for efficient service that was the same every time – and then he filled a need of entrepreneurs who wanted a system to follow that made them money. Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Bill Gates saw a need to create a smaller, more personal computing device. Stephanie Myers and JK Rowling saw a need to fulfill fantasy in the minds of people searching for mystery, fantasy, and far-fetched ideas that could come to life. And a flood of Internet-savvy business entrepreneurs saw a need to be socially connected to others. This would be a very long list of visionaries who saw a need, filled it, and became famous, or rich, or a sought-after mentor, or someone who just filled a need – or all of the above.
So, is there some type of product or service that you can provide to a market looking for a solution? It may help to think in terms of goods and services; need and wants. Most businesses involve a mixture of both, but this discussion may help narrow the focus.
Focus on 7 things that you can do in order to fulfill a need.
There are opportunities all around us every day where a better mousetrap could be built. Considering doing something you love is a good start, but it has to be further analyzed by examining the market potential, competition, resources required to enter the market (tools, technology, people and capital), consumer/buyer demand, and uniqueness of the idea. By balancing enthusiasm with reality, you should be able to come up with the solution that fills a need and fits your passion…at the same time meeting and fulfilling a market demand.
Make a List
If you were to sit down and make a list of needs you can fulfill, you would be amazed at how many items you will think of. What bugs you about your home, your car, your workplace, the way you eat, the way things are delivered to you, how often you need to do something? How often have you have thought of how in-efficient something is, the way you travel, how others communicate with you, how other services are delivered to you, how poorly you have been served by someone else? Or can you think of something right now that can be improved like how often someone contacts you, whether or not you have access to certain technology, how you download information from the Internet, what you like to eat or drink and if it is health?
The best place to start in picking a need that can be fulfilled is thinking about conversations you and your family, friends and colleagues have had about improving something.
What do consumers or businesses want that’s not being provided to them? Ultimately, whether you succeed will depend upon whether you are able to meet some unmet need in the market.
If you love to cook, you’re more likely to succeed if you start a landscaping business— even if you know nothing about landscape design — than you are if you open a catering service. IF…if there is a demand for landscape design services but not for another catering company in your area. It’s far easier to hire someone who knows something about landscaping than it is to sell consumers something that they don’t want or need.
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to sell a new or different product or service in order to succeed; you can succeed if you can improve what is already being sold. In the above example, you could open a catering business if you can provide a better service than other catering businesses, such as a wider menu or lower prices. But that’s still a function of what consumers want. Your research will tell you that there is a demand for a new catering business if prices were lower or if the menu were more varied.
Do it Better
Now that you have an idea of what needs you can satisfy, here’s how to fulfill it: Study and analyze the potential markets and what is currently being delivered. Are you a happy consumer, or are others happy with a particular product or service? If not, then you be the one to step up and do it better.
I do workshops and webinars about 5-15 times every week, and I see how innovative, creative minds come up with ways to make our world better. I see first hand how people take their passion and turn it into something of value. Several years ago my business partner Randy Greene and I decided to come up with a more fun and innovative way of vending a simple gum ball. We designed a machine with a clear spiral base and turned a vending experience into a entertainment experience. It worked amazingly well and we sold tens of thousands of the machines.
Most small business owners either don’t know how to do it themselves because they lack the training or can’t afford to pay someone else to come up with something better. But there are a few less expensive (and, admittedly, less scientifically exact) techniques that you can use to find out what consumers want. Keep your eyes open and come up with ways to improve what’s out there.
Once you have some idea of what the market wants, now is the time to begin looking at your skills, your connections, and experiences. You’ll need to match these resources with what the market wants. Once you match your resources to what’s available, you should be well on your way to coming up with a solution that’s right for the market – and right for you.
Over Deliver on Service
As we all know, a lot of new small businesses fail each year (about 80% of startups). In most of those cases, the small business owners were probably convinced that their idea for a business was a perfect match for their resources. Eighty percent of them are wrong every year. You can learn from their errors and avoid the mistakes they made.
You can learn from others errors, and the mistakes that they have made. In fact, there are some common mistakes that many failed small businesses make. I have had to learn from my own experiences on successes as well as failures.
Think about it for a minute…every business has had failures. Even something as simple as changing a color in your logo can be considered a failure…because something else replaced it. Which leads into a brief discussion on the success that can come from failure.
Fill Needs and Wants
People NEED to get their air conditioner repaired when it is 100 degrees outside… but they WANT on-time, courteous service, clean workers and a guarantee their A/C will blow cool air when the work is completed.
People NEED a form of reliable transportation … but they WANT to enjoy some degree of comfort whether from their own vehicle, or from consistent public transportation. This is why Uber and Lyft became overnight sensations and had a valuation of over $9 billion in just a few years.
People NEED to feel better … but they WANT to speak with a doctor that will listen to their concerns, and receive quality care – and a remedy for what ails them, in a friendly office with warm people.
People price shop for what they WANT, and sometimes pay premium prices for what they WANT, but don’t seem to mind since they keep buying stuff.
There are millions of people that have NEEDS just waiting to be filled. There are likewise millions of people who have WANTS and they will pay top-dollar to have their wants fulfilled.
Many businesses were born from an entrepreneur who saw both NEEDS and WANTS, and figured out a way to get people to pay for it. In many cases these ideas became the catalyst to a new industry. As the new industry is created, more businesses are started to supply goods and services to the consumers who purchase the product or the service. Pick any industry and you will find thousands of businesses in hundreds of different categories that fill needs and wants every day.
Back in the early 80’s when Bill Gates-and company, competed against Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, they created the personal computer that was the foundation of an industry worth trillions of dollars today.
Shipments of computers totaled 900,000 in 1980; grew to 7 million in 1990 to over 15 million per year by 2003 – and to over 65 million per quarter in 2015. With this rapid growth there has been a corresponding increase in the need for computer services.
This is just the computer industry. What about all of the other industries that have been spawned in the past two decades that rely on computing power? It boggles the mind of many other industries have been created from the simple personal computer.
Someone saw a NEED, and they developed the hardware and the software to fulfill that NEED.
People NEED a computer to be more productive and competitive in today’s business environment … but they WANT to be connected to the world with the fastest equipment and Internet service, equipped with the most up-to-date software.
You can become the next influencer to fill those NEEDS and WANTS by simply doing a little research and figuring out if there truly is an opportunity out there for your knowledge. Good luck in your quest in filling those requests!
Simple steps to Follow
- Find your PASSION;
- Write own your CONNECTIONS;
- Utilize your RESOURCES
- Fill those NEEDS!
This entire article probably could have been summed up with those four steps. But I had to fill up space, so I added a few ideas! J
Just as I started the article, I’ll end with the same advice: study and analyze the potential markets and what is currently being delivered. If people are unhappy, or left unsatisfied, then you be the one to step up and do it better. The world is waiting on you to come up with a better ‘mousetrap’!
Best of luck!