So you want to start your own business, or at least build a product or service and see how it goes. Congratulations! The desire to follow this lead is the first step in a wonderful venture adventure. Some entrepreneurs find their way to this place based upon an idea they have for a new product or an interest they have. However, a good number of would-be entrepreneurs arrive here based on a desire to build something without knowing just quite what to build. If you’re reading this article, you may very well fall into this latter camp.
Where to begin
Lucky for you, there are far more challenges in the world than solutions. As a product developer who’s been building for 14 years, I’ve found the best place to begin is to ask these two questions:
1.) What gives me pain? (a.k.a., what do I want fixed in my life?)
2.) How can I make life simpler for someone?
5 sources of inspiration
With these questions in mind, here are just 5 of the many areas where your efforts and ingenuity are sorely needed:
1.) Securing affordable health insurance for entrepreneurs
If we really want to get our economy moving again, we need to get people out of cubicles and into the world so that they can create products and services to solve the world’s most pressing problems. One of the best ways to do that is to help everyone secure affordable health insurance, regardless of where they work. The insurance company (or insurance entrepreneur) who finds a way to get that coverage to more entrepreneurs and solopreneurs will be on the cusp of changing the insurance industry and the economy!
Moving, whether you’re going down the street or across the country, is a long and stressful process. It’s often cited as one of the top stressors in life, period. The average American moves every 5 years. That is a huge market for any entrepreneur who wants to take the stress out of moving for his or her fellow Americans. The service opportunities are endless.
3.) Paper receipts
There are lots of ways to organize and categorize receipts and expenses once we have them. My beef is that I don’t want the paper receipt, period. I recently bought a new iPad and the kind genius at the Apple store just emailed the receipt to me. Zero trees were harmed in that transaction and I don’t have an ounce of paper clutter from it. Someone please invent something that makes it easy and painless for every merchant to go the way of the Apple store.
4.) Credit card points
I used to work in financial services and there is a lot of gaming involved in how card companies slice and dice points and their associated benefits. It’s not that difficult to figure out the game, but it’s enormously time consuming. In Chris Guillebeau’s inspiring book The $100 Startup, I read about Gary Leff, Founder of Book Your Award, who helps his clients take full advantage of their frequent flier points to create a dream vacation package.
Like credit card reward points, frequent flier point systems are also games. Gary’s cracked the code and he’d sharing what he knows with his clients for a flat fee per service. We need a Gary Leff of credit card reward points.
5.) Charging mobile devices
I went to SXSW Interactive in 2010 and 2011 and it was a running joke among all of the participants that at a digital conference we were constantly looking for an available outlet to recharge our mobile devices. We could really use an easy, take-with-me-everywhere, charge-in-a-variety-of-ways solution so that we’re powered up at all times.
I could go on. There’s no end to things that need fixing – from small modern day conveniences to global scale challenges. Pick a place and start. If you’re making life less painful and simpler in some way for someone, you’re on your way to a great business venture.