Transcription of the What Problem Is Your Business Solving? An episode of the podcast Doers Shakers Makers with Sierra Bailey.
[00:05] Does your business solve a problem that people are having? If yes, excellent! Are you communicating that problem to your audience and that you can solve it? Well, today we’ll be talking about why solving a problem is the root of business and how knowing the problem you are solving and communicating how you will solve it is the key to marketing success. My name is Sierra Bailey. Welcome to Doers shakers Makers, a podcast for talented, tiny business owners to inspire you in your business and life. Today’s episode is sponsored by Doers Shakers Makers Network. If you are a talented, tiny business owner and have been wishing for a place to find answers, support, and people who get you, this is the place for you. For $35 a month, you have full access to the forum, monthly courses, and a group call with me and your fellow members.
[00:57] Visit DoersShakersMakers.com to find out more. Now onto today’s show. There are many people out there who will hear this and say, why on earth would you start a business without knowing the problem you are solving? Well, the answer is…complicated. Talented business owners often start a business around their skill, which there is a need for their skill and their skill is a solution to a problem for sure. But talented people tend to come at business differently than say someone who approaches it as they are looking for a problem to solve. If that’s you, well, you have found your people. Okay, so you’re talented. That’s great. You have decided to start a business. Even better, I’m so proud of you, that’s awesome. That alone probably got you some attention. Got you some sales. But going forward, let’s approach business with a bit more strategy.
[01:54] Let’s identify problems and offer a solution. Even if this means that you want to add something onto your business, be it a new service or a new product, a new revenue stream. Approach adding your future revenue streams as identifying a problem. And if you’re really talented, but yet you’re struggling to get clients and customers, it may be because you have not identified the problem you’re solving or you’re not communicating to your audience what the problem you are solving is. If you are talented, you know half of the equation, the what you can do part. So as I said, we’re coming at this a little backwards. So you’ve identified: here is my skill. Now the other half of that equation is what is needed or what is the problem? So in let’s say, business school or somebody that’s approaching starting a business as I want to build a business that does something, usually, they think of it as what problems need to be solved and then they think, Oh, what are the things that I do that I can use to solve this problem?
[03:00] Talented people, we’re a little backwards. We know what we’re good at already. Now we have to figure out what are the problems that we are good at solving. Let’s start off by saying that you want to make sure that you are finding problems that you can solve with the skills that you like to use. If you started a business around that skill, I’m assuming you like use that skill because when we tend to decide to solve problems yet we don’t like the work that we have to do to solve that problem. That leads pretty quickly to burn out. It means that you don’t really want to do it anymore. So the key to having a business that you’re very passionate about and that you want to tell everybody about, is to match your skills with the problem you want to solve. So make sure if you already identified your skills that’s great, but that you’re solving problems that you want to use the skills that you like using, to solve.
[03:50] Don’t say, Oh, I need to solve the problem of traveling to space, if you really want to be a graphic designer because sure, you could work on a campaign for that, but you’re not going to suddenly want to do engineering of some sort. So how do we find the problem you are solving or want to solve? Well, start big and then work towards a more specific niche issue. You always hear people talking about niche down. This is what it’s talking about. It’s that there is a big problem to solve. Now as a talented person, I understand that this can be kind of overwhelming. So for over 15 years I was a jewelry designer and maker and ran a company around my skill of being a designer, of being able to make jewelry, of all involved with that. So when I first started working on this exercise, I was kind of like, I make jewelry.
[04:38] People need accessories. What bigger thing is that? But then I realized that it, in order to successfully market myself, I had to get a little bit deeper than that. Okay. So designing and making jewelry, fine. People want accessories that’s great. But really when it came down to it, when I first started making jewelry, I was in high school, I was in boarding school. So one, it was to alleviate boredom, but two, it was because in the mid-nineties the silver chain jewelry was all the rage. It’s what everybody was making. It’s what everybody was wearing. I did not want to wear it. I wanted to wear big, bold, colorful designs. So I started making my own jewelry because without even understanding this, I was 16 or 15, I was solving my own problem. I got to college, I went from architecture school to the art school where I studied 3D animation, which was both in the art school and the engineering school. And I found that jewelry was solving my own problem, which was I needed to unwind from all of that technical work and jewelry, playing with the colors, using my hands to put things together, did just that.
[05:47] What I also obviously was doing was creating something that people could wear, so I started looking at stores to sell it to. Because I was not the only person who was craving that colorful, fun, big jewelry. I then years later, I think about five years later, did start a business and did start officially and professionally designing and selling jewelry, which is funny because really I probably had that going on for over 25 years, but that’s okay. We just say 15 and that works. That’s how long I had my brand for and my brand solved the problem of very colorful and bold jewelry, which was the big problem. So that was my “start big”. I wanted to create colorful jewelry, but then what I started realizing was that my audience was looking for jewelry that they could wear to work. So they were people that wanted to express themselves through this colorful and bold jewelry.
[06:44] They were not looking for jewelry to wear to a very formal evening things. They were not looking for the kind of jewelry that you put on and never take off like engagement rings or like chain necklaces that you keep on forever as some people do those with religious icons and things. They were looking for something big and bold. That showed their personality and created a statement when they went to work. Some of these people worked in the professions where you usually would have way more conservative jewelry, but they were on their fun days, let’s say, wanting to show a little flair. And some were actually in creative fields themselves. So this was their way of identifying themselves. So my problem was beyond just women want to wear jewelry. It became, some women want to wear big and colorful jewelry. Where will they find that? And then my niched down, very specific thing was to wear it to work.
[07:36] So another example of this would be a trainer. So let’s say they start out helping people want to get and stay fit, but they may niche down to teaching yoga, let’s say, because most trainers are trained in a variety of things, but they quickly decide that there’s one thing like CrossFit or like I said, yoga or cycling or something where they really want to hone in and that becomes their niche. And sure, you can attract people. Every time we talk about niche, I always say with your messaging, you will attract people that are not very, very specific, but you need to speak specifically to a very small number of people to effectively market and get your messaging out. Just a little side note on that. Okay. So besides thinking of what the big problem that you’re wanting to solve is, and that is anything from you identifying it, to you asking your people?
[08:30] So if you already are in business, if you’re a talented tiny business owner and you have come this far by basically having a skill that you’re really good at and attracting clients around that skill, then you have a customer base who you can actually ask about things and you can, I know this sounds crazy. And especially, I had an online business for so long, I was not in a field where people spoke on the phone and I would be like, you’re crazy, (this also proved that I’m an introvert) you want me to call these people up? They don’t want to talk to me! But guess what? They really would love to talk to you. And most of them are probably more extroverted if you are introverted than you are and they don’t have a problem with it. So it may sound scary or this may seem like something that you do all the time.
[09:12] Either way you can reach out to some of your best customers and have a phone call and be like, Hey, I’m trying to figure out a new product. What do you like? What do you not like? I will say that the rule of thumb in creating especially products, is that people actually have no idea what they want, so don’t take what they’re saying at literal face value. But more like ask questions that you can write down the answers to. Talk to five customers and then look where the patterns are. Look at where you’re seeing the commonalities. If they all are, let’s say you’re designing jewelry and wearing jewelry to the same type of things, or if you design a service and they all seem to be coming to you when they’re having the same problem, you’re onto something. That’s the problem that you’re solving for them.
[09:55] Even if you are something like an accountant where you can work with people no matter where they are in their business, what size business, if they even have a business or anything, you’ll start to notice that people are coming to you at certain pain points in their life. So by talking to people, you can identify these pain points and start to figure out when you are solving the problem. So another personal example is that at one point I had my business. It was great. I was in lots of pres,s doing wonderful things. I wasn’t necessarily looking for another problem to solve, but it fell into my lap. Because I noticed a pattern. I was getting emails from the spouses of my regular customers that were saying, Hey, do something more expensive? I really want to buy my wife a very special present for our anniversary.
[10:42] And a $100 necklace is not going to do it. I need something that is a little fancier to really look like I’m, you know, treating her to something that she wouldn’t treat herself to. So I ended up designing a more elaborate high-end collection, my luxe collection. And what I found that was very interesting, was that not only did I solve the problem for men, but as it turned out, women often were looking for a more luxurious higher price point as well because they wanted to treat themselves. They wanted to, let’s say they got a promotion at work or I remember, one of my very long time customers, the first necklace she ever bought was when she graduated from her MBA program. And she had a necklace that basically she waited until she graduated and that was her treat for wearing it. She bought many more in the years after that, but it was still, it was that first luxe purchase that really made her say, Oh, this would be a very special thing that signified my accomplishing this thing.
[11:48] So it was, and this was, I’ll say one of the things that got me so interested, into business side of things and into everything that I now talk to clients about. It’s so interesting when you start to have the different price points and the different levels and things like that of psychologically how people react to pricing and shopping. Oh, online is just, I love online shopping. If you have an online store, let’s talk. I just want to talk about it. Anyway. The next place that you can, besides identifying the problem by knowing what the big thing you want to solve is by asking your people. Well, the next is to join Facebook groups or forums and just are talking to people or listening. You can just look at the conversations of things that people are looking for. If you find a forum around people that you know would be your target audience, you can start to understand what their problems are.
[12:37] Hey, you can even start talking to strangers. I love talking to strangers about things, especially when I used to design jewelry because I would wear it and then they would talk to me. But even now I will start talking to a random person about how I help talented, tiny business owners and they’ll be like, what is that? And then we start talking and I’m like, Oh, you understand what this problem I’m solving is and there you go. I’m getting a little bit of feedback right there even though they’re not a customer, but it helps me understand what people are looking for. Besides that, in all the podcast episodes I talk about the importance of networking. Well, this is one of the reasons. Because it gives you a chance to talk to people. You get to find out where the pain points and problems are.
[13:14] So besides all of this going around and talking to people and asking people about what problems you’re solving and all of that. This is also a really great way, if you are thinking about not just what am I doing now, I want to refine my messaging, I want to think about the problem that I’m solving. But back to that adding new revenue stream, a new service or a new product. Sometimes by looking at your people and saying, what else do they have as a problem? Really helps you figure out what you can add. Because if they’re already your target demographic and you already know how to talk to them, why not solve another one of their problems? That’s a no brainer for adding a revenue stream. Now, once you’ve identified the problems and you’ve been talking to people, well, you need to determine if there is a market for the solution. And sometimes if you’re a talented person and you create a business around something you’re good at, well sometimes you get to the point where you’re like, nobody’s buying.
[14:05] Well, this is why a lot of people do approach this in the other way. First, they figure out the problem and if there is a market and then what they’re good at. Because the honest and sad truth is that there’s not always a market for every solution that you’re creating. The first thing to do is start looking, does somebody else offer a solution? If they are, then you need to start looking at how can I be different in my solution? How can I be in a different niche? Don’t say cheaper. You should not get into the price game. That is a dangerous, dangerous game to get into that you will lose. But you want to be able to dominate a very small area. So think about what little particular area can you be in that will be different than the people that are already doing it.
[14:48] It could be a location, so if you are somebody that’s trying do a brick and mortar, I mean these were how businesses were created decades ago. People would say, Oh, what a fabulous idea. I see this on my vacation. I need to create this in my hometown. With the internet, things are a little bit different, but you still can do different iterations depending on different niche markets. Now, if no one is solving the problem, there’s usually a good reason, like that nobody will pay for the solution or that the solution is just crazy expensive to produce. It could be that you want to be the next Elon Musk and go after it, but for most of us, you shouldn’t approach the problem as knowing that you’re going to be beating your head against the ground and the whole thing. But, hopefully, somebody has tried to do the solution and if they have failed at it, you, thanks to the internet, will be able to probably see why.
[15:39] Look at why they’ve failed. If it has nothing to do with what the problem is, maybe they ended up having an illness in the family and had to step back. Or maybe they all of a sudden had a new baby and were unable to do that. That means sure, I should approach this problem. This is a great problem to solve. That’s great. But if it is like 45 people have tried to solve this problem and every one has failed because nobody was buying anything, not a problem that you want to solve. So learn from the mistakes of people before you. Okay, you now know your problem, you know who you’re solving it for and that makes your marketing start to have a story. So you want to tell the story of the problem, who you’re helping and what you’re solving. You’re defining the problem, you’re explaining your solution.
[16:23] That’s your marketing. For example, my overview, if I’m going to let’s say a networking thing and getting up and introducing myself in 30 seconds. I say I help talented tiny business owners solve their problems from the technical to time management well past the startup phase. When I sit down and actually have a one on one with people, I explain more of it. I talk about how I had had a business for a long time. I talk about how a few years into that business I faced this problem of being a talented person that did not necessarily know the business side of things and it took me a long time to figure it all out on my own. I wished that I had people that I could talk to, people that I could ask the advice of, people that would not push me to start a corporation on an enterprise level with a thousand employees.
[17:11] But people that understood tiny businesses, people that understood handmade, people that understood lifestyle business. And everybody that I kept talking to was not really understanding that and pushing me in another direction and it was frustrating. There was so much information out there for new people. There was very little out there for those of us in kind of the middle years of tiny businesses. It became once I, as I said earlier, I had that business for almost 16 years, I figured it out. It took a long time. I don’t want everybody to have to take that long to figure it all out. And I became really fascinated more with the tiny business side of things, which is why I ended up pivoting and going into what I’m doing. So when I talk to people, when they are in that middle area of owning a small business or they are tiny, they immediately say, Oh, that’s me.
[17:56] Or they just look at me like, Oh, that’s an interesting idea. But you want people to hear your message and say, Oh, that’s me. This is why you are understanding what the problem you are solving, who you’re solving it for, and how to communicate your solution. Because then they’ll say, Oh, that’s me. Hey, that’s my problem. And the very next thought would be, ah, you can help me solve it! I hope this inspired you to take a few minutes, think about the problems you are solving for your people. And if you’re communicating what your solution is. Is your market-defining the problem and offering a solution? If not, do a little tweaking. Play around with it. You’ll get there. I believe in you. I hope this episode inspired you today. If you have any questions, please reach out via Facebook, email [email protected] or LinkedIn, all in the show notes. And thank you for joining me today. My name is Sierra Bailey and this is Doers Shakers Makers, a podcast for talented, tiny business owners. If you enjoyed today’s episode, come on and join us in the Doers Shakers Makers Facebook group, or even better yet, share with your friends so they can enjoy it too. I’ll be back next Monday to keep you inspired and get you doing shaking and making.
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