How to Develop a Problem Solving Product
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Identify a Real Problem
When Steve Jobs was leading Apple, he knew that the world was becoming more and more PC-friendly, not Mac friendly. But Jobs noticed that while Microsoft’s products were highly desired, the PCs were not as user-friendly as they could be. To bluntly put it, the PCs were ugly. Job’s revolutionary idea was to introduce user-friendly design elements to gadgets that would one day become ubiquitous. That LED indicator on your laptop that slowly blinks when the computer is in sleep mode, that’s a Steve Jobs idea. Jobs identified a real-life problem that Apple could cash in on.
Bill Busbice, who once ran a trucking company, observed that truckers have to endure a complicated and time-consuming process to find new loads. So he came up with the idea for HWY Pro, which makes trucking demonstrably more efficient. Likewise, entrepreneurs don’t need to invent new things to make a profit. Rather, entrepreneurs should focus on identifying a real problem the target audiences face.
Spend Time Contextualizing the Problem
Once a problem is identified, it’s very important to put it in perspective. Mr. Busbice observed that the trucking organization system is inefficient. He, with the help of his colleagues, managed to contextualize the problem, which led to identifying the target audience and developing a solution that is successfully implemented in a real-world setting. While it may seem obvious to most people that problem-solving should have a context, not all entrepreneurial ventures are based on this concept.
Consider Juicera, for example. The company makes patented organic juice packets. But the main gimmick the company advertises to users is an expensive, high-tech juicing machine. The only thing the machine can do is release the juice from the packets. It couldn’t do anything else. When the product was released to the market, people discovered that the packets could be juiced by hand, essentially reducing a $700 juicing machine to nothing more than a paperweight. Juicera was compelled to refund all machine purchases. This is why it’s important to contextualize a problem.
Design a Must-Have, not a “Should Have” Product
Ultimately, people buy the product when it becomes a must-have, not a maybe-have product. People buy iPhones because they are iPhones. Google is not an optional product for web users. Truckers, for example, will not find any other app that can deliver the same results as HWY Pro.
When an entrepreneur makes a product that consumers feel they cannot live without, then that’s an indication of a sustainably successful product.