Flights to my homestate of Utah from New York are long, especially when you're broke. Affordable fares for cross country flights usually come with the con of detouring into every city along the way, like riding a 12,500 pound bus in the sky. Flying is great for getting from point A to B in reasonable amounts of time, but can be physically, mentally, and emotionally painful for individuals who aren't bank rolling and can't afford luxury private flights.
Great entrepreneurs understand products, creations, and businesses succeed when they fulfill a deep pain or problem for others. Most great inventions in modern times came from immense pains - the debilitating effect of darkness (oh, hey lightbulbs); the time consuming process of caring for livestock and making your own food (what up modern agriculture); being able to communicate with individuals without having to be in person (information age, we <3 you).
When people think of pursuing entrepreneurship, doubts usually begin with, "I have no ideas, everything has been done." Stop that. If you have the desire to create something in the world that could service others, but feel like everything has been done before, look closer. Take the following three examples as inspiration:
1) Blah Airlines: Pain point - Airlines suck, and we all know it. Richard Branson, CEO of mega company Virgin, capitalized on this fact with a marketing blitz called Blah Airlines, a fake airline with social media pages, booking information, and even a monotonous 6 hour video showing a Blah airlines flight from Newark to San Fransisco. Virgin Airline's hope is to highlight how awful standard airlines are, and how they do things differently. They went for the jugular.
2) Warby Parker Glasses: Pain point - Eye exams are boring, impersonal, and forgettable. Your typical optometrist is no frills, will do that air puff into your eyes thing that no one is ever prepared for (to check for glaucoma of course), and show you a shiny line up of the latest stock pile glasses that look good on absolutely no one. Warby Parker is an eye company who revels in being the opposite of typical eye glass purchasing experiences. Their branding is sexy and clean, the glasses are chic (and affordable), and when you buy a pair, they donate some of the profits to eye-care non-profits around the world. Bring on the feel good fuzzies.
3) Majora Carter, Environmental Activist - Pain Point - Her neighborhood was used as a toxic trash dump. The Bronx takes a major environmental beating, handling 23% of all NYC's commercial waste. Majora Carter, a resident of the South Bronx, saw the major destruction happening in her neighborhood and founded Sustainable South Bronx, creating new economies through green job training, pushing favorable environmental policies and audits, and being a voice for the people against toxic fumes and sludge in their neighborhood.
Pain is a major reason why we seek the services and products we do. We want to elevate issues and solve our problems. Our pain could be as basic as physical hunger, or as complex as depression. These pains can be personal, or they can affect an entire community. Business, if done well, should be about addressing those needs in an authentic and real way (although most businesses exploit pains and give little value. That's a rant for another day).
These pains, whether they be personal struggles or larger social issues, are great starting points for thinking about how you can create something to address a problem in the world.
When we lack something in our lives, we have the opportunity to create it. I lacked inspiration and relatable community around my career and personal development experiences. I didn't see people like me creating media about the ideas and communities I cared about - thus The New Quo was born.
AN ACTIVITY - YOUR PAIN AS YOUR INSPIRATION
- Make a list of all the pain points you've had in the past two days. They can be personal (ex. struggling with eating too much fast food) or social (ex. crowded parking).
- Think through a 3 sentence maximum solution for each pain point.
- Write an S next to these proposed solutions if they are a service, and a P next to these soultions if they are a product.
- Run your favorite idea by three friends to get feedback.
- Brainstorm baby steps on how you could make them happen, even if it's just an email, tweet, or Facebook rant to a company/organization that delivers something similar to the solution you drummed up from your brain.
Leave a comment below or shoot me an email with your results at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear how you turned your pain into inspiration to push businesses to get it together or how it's made you think about starting something on your own. Pain can blow, but when you spin it and leverage it for good, it ain't too bad. You're on your way to entrepreneurship.