Enough! Ideas born out of personal frustrations

There are many ways to generate new business ideas proactively.  One of the most common methods is to start with your personal frustrations as a source of inspiration.   This blog posting covers the basics on this simple yet effective technique that can lead you to discover a number of exciting ideas that are probably right under your nose.

Many of you experience frustrations or pains with aspects of life, especially those things that are common and part of our daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly routine.  More so these days, it appears, this includes frustrations related to your own health and wellness (or that of close friends and family that you care for), as well as your experiences navigating the healthcare system.

Discovery is often started here, as the Innovator has a personal motivation to usher change – Sometimes one has had enough and is compelled to take matters into one’s own hands.

The BIG advantage of starting here is that you have an implied first-hand understanding of the problem and a strong motivation to solve it.

Discovery out of personal frustrations follows the common four steps of Observation, Questioning, Imagining & Proposing.    What you’re ultimately hoping create is something that attenuates or eliminates the pain you and many others could live without – Something that provides a 10X improvement in things that many people (or companies) hate and are willing to pay to eradicate – Things such as wasted time & money, inconvenience & poor usability, confusion & uncertainty, insecurity, indignity, loneliness, and most of all, poor physical and mental health.

The challenge is to ensure that many other people also experience a similar frustration and find value in fixing the problem – This is often recommended before expending too much energy on solutions to a problem that may not be that important to a large enough market.

The other challenge is being comfortable and credible in the solution and market space that may be necessary to solve the problem – Be it a service, a software-based solution, a high-tech product, etc.  This can be achieved by finding collaborators and advisors with complementary skillsets and/or achieved by personal study and training in a needed skill to fully explore and exploit the opportunity.

Many of the startups you may have heard of, started out of founder’s personal frustrations, for example:

AirbnB:  Two guys in San Francisco couldn’t afford to pay their rent.  Started subleasing to strangers and asking them to sleep on the only available bed option at hand – their air mattress.

Warby Parker:  Four business students wondered why they couldn’t buy eye-glasses online, why they were paying ridiculous prices at retail.

Spanx:  A fax-machine saleswoman can’t find the right undergarments to wear with her clothing.  Starts her own line of leggings by essentially cutting the feet from the common pantyhose (She got the idea from watching Oprah, herself wearing a makeshift cutoff).

Mitu:  A Latino woman tired of being stereotyped in the entertainment industry noticed there was no Web video-network for Latinos.  Started a Spanish language network to provide more opportunities for minorities.

Houzz:  Husband and wife found home remodeling outdated, inconvenient & ineffective.  Started their own platform for home design.

BlackGirlsCode:  Mother noticed daughter’s poor summer camp experience and overall disregard for girls.  Started here own camp that focused on providing greater opportunities for the underpriviledged,

So consider this method of ideation yourselves, essentially giving in to your innate curiosity.  Begin by Observing the things that frustrate you or close-ones with greater scrutiny and Questioning ‘Why’ – Many innovators started this way – Why not turning your own lemons into lemonade?

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