(I originally published this article in the Galion Inquirer on February 11, 2012)
Are you looking for an idea to help you start your new business? Is your current business in need of some fresh ideas to bring in new customers?
When my consulting clients come to me for help, most of them are stuck for new ideas. They need to start or grow their business, but they have a very difficult time coming up with new and creative solutions.
The good news is that it isn’t as hard as it appears to be. By the time you finish reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you’ll have several new ideas floating around in your head. That’s the easy part. The hard part is going to be evaluating them and putting them into practice.
If you want to come up with new ideas to evaluate, you need to think in three basic ways. First, every problem is also a solution. Second, everyone is an expert in some area. Third, think about parades.
Every problem is also a solution. That’s one of my favorite ways to come up with new ideas or products. Think about it. There are lots of problems in life, and you’ve probably worked through many of them yourself already. It’s a pretty safe bet that if you struggled with something at some point in time, there are lots of other people still struggling with it, and you can use this idea in your business.
So how does this help you? Let me share an example from my own past. Last year I was putting together a manuscript for a book on how to start a business. I wanted it available on Amazon and anywhere else I could get it, but for many reasons, I wanted it published electronically instead of in print.
I’m a computer geek. There’s absolutely no way I’m going to pay over $1000 for someone to convert my Word document into epub format when I can do it myself. I spent two weeks researching the epub format, different submission guidelines, etc. I taught myself how to convert the file, and practiced on many public domain books, too.
After I was comfortable doing the file conversion myself, I realized that there are lots of other people out there trying to accomplish the same thing! What did I do? I wrote a second book: How to epublish your manuscript. I offered it for sale, as well as doing the actual conversions for other authors. That’s how my problem also became a solution.
Everyone is an expert in some area, including you. I don’t mean you have to win the Nobel Prize to be an expert. If you worked through a problem like I did above, then you’re an expert on that particular problem. How can you put that expertise to use helping someone else?
Think about parades. Parades are long lines of people. There’s a leader up at the front, but the people in the middle of the parade are following those just in front of them. This refers back to the first two ideas. You may not think you’re an expert, but somebody somewhere who knows less than you do would see you as an expert.
You don’t have to lead the parade in order to be an expert or to help people. You only have to offer some direction to the people behind you in the parade. Those people are following your lead.
Start with a problem you solved. Offer to share the solution with others that are still struggling with that same problem. Remember that you’re always in front of someone in the parade.