New Business Idea? What’s Your Problem?

See? Not too complex. Not too hard. Just a little investment of time and intellectual horsepower.

If you have a new business idea, I’m excited for you. If you ever want to get it off the ground, however, be sure you have a problem. A real problem. I know that sounds cryptic. Allow me to explain.

Quality Digest


At thoughtLEADERS, we solve skill-gap problems. For one of our courses, the problem we address is communication-focused. There’s an absence of training on how to go from an idea to a fact-based, data-driven, 10-page-or-less compelling presentation that drives action. The training that does exist in this space isn’t very practical or applicable outside the classroom. We solve this problem by offering a class targeted at teaching these skills in a manner so that participants can apply them outside the classroom. (You can learn about that class by clicking here.) Problem solved.

Next, ask how your solution makes that problem go away. Be able to articulate a simple, “Here’s the issue… Here’s our solution… Here’s how your (customer) life is different after you use our stuff.” Yes, this is Marketing 101. The problem is, many people skip this step. 

Heck, even this blog post focuses on solving a problem: “Your problem is you haven’t defined your business problem well, and customers will not buy your solution, so your business won’t grow. The solution is to read this post and incorporate the ideas on how to define and sell the problem and solution. Your life will be different after using this solution because you’ll have a clearly articulated problem statement that resonates with customers, which will lead to sales and growth for your company.

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Good ideas are where you find them. Help your clients find yours by defining a problem for them.

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We solved the problem of empty seats. Venues (e.g., sporting events, theater, concerts) have unsold seats and limited marketing resources. TiXiT worked with venues to intelligently discount and market those empty seats to a larger marketing universe in an intelligent and segmented way. We sold seats that would have gone unsold, and we sold them to people the venue didn’t know. Problem solved.

You would be surprised how many times the response to that question is a look like a dog noticing a ceiling fan (dazed and confused). If you want to be successful as a new startup, you must have a problem. If you can’t articulate what problem you solve for the world, there’s a low likelihood you will sell anything. “Pull” selling is exponentially more powerful than “push” selling. When the world has a problem, they will pull your solution. Don’t have a problem? Then you’re pushing your solution on the world.

Now, what’s your problem? What business ideas have you seen that successfully define a problem? Which business ideas have you seen flop because they weren’t solving a clear problem? Share your observations, please!

Customer Care

New Business Idea? What’s Your Problem?

Focus on solving defined problems and increase your chances of market adoption

When I hear a new pitch, the first question I ask is, “What’s the problem?”

Stop and articulate the problem. It shouldn’t be contrived. It should be a real problem that immediately catches the eye of your potential customer. If they don’t have an immediate reaction of “Oh my gosh! Please come solve that problem for me!” you need to rethink your business.

Allow me to offer some examples, then some guidance on how to think about this issue.

Some example problems

We solved the problem of entrepreneurs in the web/mobile space not knowing how to launch a business. The problem was there was a lack of resources focused on taking an idea from a napkin to a full-fledged functioning business. We solved this problem by providing startups with direct guidance on business model, financing, strategy, technology, and business development, and even playing interim management team roles. We helped them turn their idea into a real business with a platform, customers, revenue, and funding. Problem solved.

However, someone has to pay for this content. And that’s where advertising comes in. Most people consider ads a nuisance, but they do serve a useful function besides allowing media companies to stay afloat. They keep you aware of new products and services relevant to your industry. All ads in Quality Digest apply directly to products and services that most of our readers need. You won’t see automobile or health supplement ads.

To define your problem, first ask, “Why is this customer interested in talking to me?” Put yourself in their shoes. What is their pain point? What opportunity do they want to capture? Cost reduction? Growth? Complexity reduction? Profitability challenges? Information clarity? What are they looking to buy?

If you can’t articulate the problem you solve, your chances of success are slim. First of all, market adoption will be slow and sales will be hard to come by. Second, investors know that without a problem, you’ll have a hard time selling and growing. Therefore, they’re not likely to fund your venture. If you’re not funded, you’re not growing.