How to find a hustle, how to find a killer niche, how to make a business? Many would-be entrepreneurs and inventors struggle with finding that initial spark of genius. I find these sparks to be found around pain points. Frankly there is no easy way to prescribe how to innovate. If I could I would be beyond rich right now! That said, I can describe as I did in my article about the entrepreneur’s mindset, a framework I have developed to evaluate random inspiration, and some things to help make this process perhaps marginally easier. One final note before we begin, you must be ok with the idea that you will miss. You will need to make many attempts, as many attempts as it takes for one to work. With that in mind let us begin.
I spoke about optimizing your time, this is where that comes in. Before you enter into the world you must have a body of knowledge to frame your observations to identify these pain points. So my first question is when you take you phone to the bathroom, are you reading about the Kardashians or Business Insider? Are you reading industry periodicals to your trades? Are you learning about new technologies? While anyone can appreciate “dank” memes, and some relaxation is absolutely necessary, carve some time out every day to learn new things. This can be audiobooks and podcasts on your commute, it could be your bathroom scroll, it could be documentaries, the news, and the like at night. Reading this blog right now is an example of what you need to be reading (Or I hope it is!). Learning must become a continual habit, not confined to school. Personally I read about new technologies that lend themselves to multi-tenancy or are available to be white labled (there is much to be made here I will speak more on them later). I also read about cryptocurrency, trends in the markets, news and many other subjects.
Now armed with that knowledge, of wide and far breadth, go out into the world and observe. Now you are probably asking “What should I look for? What is a pain point? What is a necessary need?” First and foremost a necessary need, is something that a person can not live with out. This could be fuel, it could be food, it could be water, shelter, the list goes on and on. The point is if lacking their survival and ability to thrive will be in jeopardy. The second is a pain point, or an inconvenience, a stressed, a that is annoying. The ideal opportunity is at an intersection of a necessary need, a pain point, and you have the resources to monetize. But it doesn’t have to be, it can be a luxury item or service, it can be really anything. However I find it most fruitful to mine for pain points in and around services related to necessary needs.
Ok so you note a pain point, it somehow intertwined with a necessary need, so now what. Now you use the knowledge you have gained from reading and more google searching to identify how to monetize that pain point by providing a service. Research in this area can be what are close competitors or other alternative services charging? Talking to prospective customers about if such a service would be of use, conducting online surveys building mockups these are all examples of how to do research. Then finally there is little more to do than to try it. See if it works or not and then go back to the drawing board.
An example of this process working for me, we all have heard of Square and other credit card based payment processors. I went to a gun show and found to my surprise the vendor could not take credit cards. So I asked him why. He told me that square and others are known to not only not service the firearms industry but randomly freeze accounts. I saw an opportunity. It took me about 7 months of phone calls, emails, research and attempts. Through a lot of networking I was able to establish a reseller relationship with a provider and was able to ensure that firearms businesses could get processing. After that I had a good business model that met the necessary needs test and was well within my ability to execute after a bit of research.
Remember this is just a framework, learn, observe, attempt, repeat. If you keep trying, you will eventually get a working model that will prove profitable that you can iteratively improve upon. As Thomas Edison said of his lightbulb with every failure, he was one step closer to the solution. Every idea you explore, every invention you attempt brings you closer to the success you are dreaming of. Good luck all