Entrepreneurs take note. Make more money now by solving massive problems. The secret behind success is no secret. Find a massive problem affecting many people and solve it.
Robert Schuller says it best: “Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.”
I’ll take it a step further and say that problems are clues on how to command success.
My biggest wins came from solving big problems that struck a cord with my personal passion. My biggest losses happened from one of three things.
Not solving a problem
Solving a problem that didn’t affect enough people
Solving a problem but lacking the personal passion
Let’s take a deep dive on how solving massive problems help you make money.
The Golden Rule for Entrepreneurs
Take a look around you. Every successful product and service were born from a problem. Help enough people solve their problem and get what they want so you can get what you want. Notice the order of things.
Opportunity is everywhere, but you need to know where to look. One of the best places to find opportunities is to find problems. Despite popular opinion, problems are your best friend.
While finding a problem is no guarantee of success, it’s a great place to start.
Before going into a system for that helps you make more money now by solving massive problems, let me share a story.
One Massive Problem and Two Entrepreneurs
When opportunity knocks, most people view it as a problem instead. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case when an entrepreneur, let’s call him Jack, was hanging out with his friend Jim.
Although Jim is a programmer, his passion is blowing glass. As a glass artisan, Jim puts his heart and soul into creating and making custom all-glass faucets.
You can imagine the pain Jim felt when he lost a $2,000 sale for a glass faucet because he didn’t accept credit cards. Jack, like any good friend, felt Jim’s pain and starting asking questions.
It wasn’t that Jim was lazy or a bad business owner for not accepting credit cards. It’s difficult for a small business to accept credit cards. The application process is time-consuming and cumbersome. Payment to the merchant is not immediate. The processing fee is high, and the merchant pays both monthly and hidden fees.
And it gets worse. Merchants must sign up with a third party processor who has its fees and regulations. Different credit cards have different rates. On top of this, merchants must either buy or rent clunky credit card processing hardware.
For most people, this is where the story ends.
But for Jim and Jack, we’re at the start of their story. Jack realized that not accepting credit cards is a huge problem for anyone in business. And for Jack, this wasn’t right or fair. Jack believed that commerce should be both easy and accessible for everyone.
This is where our story gets interesting.
Solving Massive Problems Creates Massive Companies
You see, Jack is otherwise known as Jack Dorsey who is the co-founder of Twitter. Jim, the talented glass artisan, is otherwise known as Jim McKelvery.
It wasn’t easy, but in 2009 Jack and Jim started Square Inc. to solve the massive commerce problem faced by small businesses.
If you’re not familiar with Square here’s a quick rundown. Square provides you with a free credit card reader that is not much larger than a quarter. You can use the credit card reader on any iPhone, iPad, or Android device.
Merchants pay no monthly fees, have no hidden fees, and have chargeback protection. The rate is the same for all major cards. It gets even better. The per swipe fee the seller pays Square is 40% less than other merchants. And by the way, sellers receive their deposits either right away or in one or two business days.
I don’t know about you, but reading this makes me want to become a merchant!
And here’s the best part. Square has helped millions of businesses sell more and earn more.
Dorsey and McKelvery solved a huge problem in an eloquent way and helped millions of people. As a result, Square makes more money by solving this massive problem
Now don’t get me wrong. Launching Square was difficult at best and impossible at worst. Square broke through a regulated industry that doesn’t like change. As an example, to make its model work, Square pays its merchants before it receives the money. As of this post, Square’s is a public company worth over $5 Billion.
Solving one problem launched a multi-billion dollar company. And in the process helped millions of people, and created significant wealth.
Why Dorsey and McKelvery Should Have Failed
I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying, “hey, if I had the fame, success, and money that Dorsey had from Twitter I could also be successful.” You’re not alone.
According to Inc. magazine, in 2009 Dorsey shared a list that he titled ‘140 reasons why Square will fail.’ While the list is a cute play off Twitter’s 140 character limit, the list was anything but a joke.
Dorsey shared the list with investors to show that he wasn’t resting on his success. In fact, Dorsey thought of every reason why Square should fail. From these 140 reasons to fail, Dorsey provided solutions for each ‘problem.’
For starters, Dorsey had zero experience in the financial industry. To most people, this is a huge disadvantage. To Dorsey, it’s a winning strategy as it allows him to play off his mastery of technology to design a better system.
In identifying both the problems and solutions, Dorsey made it clear he knew he was in for the battle of his life. Challenges or not, Dorsey and McKelvery never lost sight of why they were doing what they were doing. The vision was and continues to be to allow anyone to take credit card payments anywhere. In achieving this vision, the solution had to be easy and eloquent through technology.
In Dorsey’s words, ” I didn’t have a finance background, my co-founders didn’t, and we didn’t hire anyone who worked in finance until we reached 25 employees.”
Find Your Problem and Build Your Empire
When I coach entrepreneurs, one of two questions arise:
What type of business should I start?
Is this particular business a good opportunity?
Not unreasonable questions, unfortunately, both questions are wrong.
What are the right questions, you ask?
Now, this is a great question!
Finding and solving any problem is no guarantee of success. As an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to blend the right amount of science with art to find the right problem to solve. The next set of 11 questions will help you make more money now by solving massive problems.
That said, if you’re looking for a ‘magic pill’ that makes success easy and fast, think again. While these questions provide the road map, the journey is long, and your effort is immense. You’ll need to work both hard and smart.
11 Questions To Help You Make More Money Now By Solving Massive Problems
The next 11 questions are gold. Answer these questions and you’re well on your way. These questions aren’t just any questions. I’ve used these same questions in achieving my biggest wins and curated the rest from valued resources. Special thanks to Under30CEO and Mike Dillard.
1. What are you either an expert in or becoming and expert in and why?
Stop right now if you are starting to doubt yourself and your abilities. The fact is you know more than you think you do. As I write this, Russell Conwell’s wonderful book, Acres of Diamonds, comes to mind.
This book and lesson is a post all unto itself, and a must have for your success library. Know this. Often the answer and ‘diamonds’ are where you’re standing right now.
You likely know more than you think. According to personal success authority Brian Tracy, becoming an expert involves:
Commit to lifelong learning. Learning never stops as you look for ways to become better.
Study one hour a day every day. This one simple action puts you at the top of your field in 3 years. One hour a day also reminds me of the post I wrote outlining Benjamin Franklin’s 5-hour rule.
Read everything you can. When it comes to your education, you can never spend enough. From books to blogs, to periodicals to papers, read them all.
When To Consider Yourself An Expert
One rule of thumb is this. If you can teach it, you know it. If you can teach someone in a particular subject matter, you’re an expert.
Neither Dorsey or McKelvery were experts in commerce. That said, both were experts in technology. I’d even go as far and say that Dorsey is an expert in communication. In launching Square, both co-founders became experts in the credit card industry. When combined with their existing technology expertise, Square had its ‘secret sauce.’
The bottom line is the bottom line. Dorsey and McKelvery figured out how to make more money now by solving a massive problem.
2. What’s your passion? What’s your biggest frustration?
If you had all the time to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? Your answer is a great hint to what your passion is. If you’re still not sure, ask friends and family about which topics you like to discuss.
And by the way, often your biggest frustration may already be your passion. Remember the story about Dorsey and McKelvery. The frustration of not being able to accept credit cards became the basis for Square. This one frustration turned into a fascination which transformed into a passion.
We’ll talk more about this in question 6, but know that if you’re frustrated, other people are as well.
3. If you could change one area of your life, what would it be?
Knowing your passion and frustration is already a great start. Put another way, is there an area in your life that causing you pain? What’s this area and why does it make you feel this way?
McKelvery’s pain was losing business to customers paying with credit cards. It sounds simple enough, but this pain helped create a multi-billion dollar company.
4. If you were to pick one interest to build a business around, what interest would this be?
Your answer to question 4, my fellow entrepreneur, is where the rubber hits the road. If your interest is the same as the earlier questions, great! If not, circle back and ask yourself why not.
As an example, if Dorsey’s answer to this question was recycling, there’s a disconnect. Is this to say Dorsey shouldn’t start a business in recycling? Not at all. That said, reworking the first three questions is a must.
5. Approximately how many other people have your same passion, interest or problem? Describe these people and what they’re currently doing.
Notice how each question builds upon the last. In answering these questions, you’re building a solid foundation. When done, the foundation you’ve built is consistent and has emotional triggers.
Your answer to question 5 is paramount. Let’s focus back on Square’s co-founder McKelvery. You know that one of McKelvery’s passions is glass blowing. I’m no expert in glass blowing, but I bet this is a small market. We can agree that glass blowers have business issues. But, are there enough glass blowers to support a business? My best guess is that there are not enough glass blowers to support a massive business.
But here’s the thing. Small businesses share the same passions, frustrations, and interests of the Square co-founders. Millions of people suffered and lost money from not accepting credit card payments. Businesses without merchant accounts is a large market that shares a common problem. It’s also a fact that businesses who accept credit cards feel the pain high and confusing fees. As a result, the potential market is larger.
Take your time when answering this question. A quick online search will help give you a ballpark of how many people share your problem. You’ll also be able to determine what these people are doing, or not doing, about your shared problem.
6. What’s the biggest pain point you can solve?
This question is a big one. You can have perfect answers for the first five questions, but if you botch question 6, it’s game over.
Let me share a quick story to illustrate. When I first started my online learning company Embanet, I hired the one and only Dan Kennedy. Kennedy is a master of marketing and agreed to meet with me for the day.
Dan asked me one very important question. “Jeffrey,” Dan said, “suppose we both have restaurants. You can have anything you want for your restaurant to attract business. I guarantee you that whatever you tell me, I’ll still beat you and get more customers. So give it your best shot, Jeffrey, what’s the one thing you want?”
If you can’t already tell, I was both nervous and speechless. Out of nowhere I remembered McDonald’s and thought to myself it doesn’t get any better. I mumbled something about a secret sauce.
While smiling Dan said, “Jeffrey, I’ll give you your secret sauce. I’ll even give you the best location. I’ll still beat you. Do you know the only thing I need?”.
After a long pause, Dan said, “put me in front of hungry people, and I’ll win every time. Your secret sauce and location mean nothing if a potential customer has eaten and is full.”
Simple. Brilliant. Genius.
In other words, what is the pain that your target market is hungry enough to do anything to solve?
Let’s take what Kennedy says at face value. When you’re hungry, as in starving, you’ll stop what you’re doing to eat. End of story.
Choose and choose well when selecting the pain you’re solving. Ensure this pain is what your target market wants to solve asap.
7. What specific steps will you take to solve this problem?
The first six questions have narrowed down your future business to a specific area. This pain point affects a large number of people who will do anything to relieve their pain.
Question seven gets into the logistics of HOW you will do this. It’s OK if you don’t have the exact answer. But you do need to know how you’ll go about providing your solution.
When the co-founders of Square began, they wanted technology to be a big part of the solution. What this technology was and how it worked was still up for discussion.
But, the co-founders of Square knew that solving their problem involves the following. All the fees are as low as possible, and there are no monthly or hidden fees. The application process is effortless and easy. All major credit cards offered have the same rate. Payment dispute help is available, and deposits can be instant.
Notice two things with the above answer.
The explanation is easy to understand. If your explanation is difficult to understand, rethink it.
Not only did the actual technology piece come later, it isn’t needed for the ‘how.’ In other words, the Square co-founders didn’t let the technology piece, or lack of it, stop them.
The Square co-founders did know they can make more money now by solving massive problems.
8. Who are the competitors?
Competition is another area that’s is disheartening for entrepreneurs. Know this. Walmart wasn’t the first discount store. Facebook wasn’t the first online social site.
But you do need to know who the competitors are. If you’re not sure, an online search will identify the top 3 to 5 competitors. A great place to start is industry articles, blogs, and news pieces.
9. Of the competitors identified, what are they excellent at? What are the frustrations that customers have for these competitors?
You may already know the answers to question 9 if you’re a customer for some of these competitors. If you’re not a customer, of the competition, become one, so you can gain first-hand experience.
Start now, roll up your sleeves, and either visit or call the competitions’ customers. In short order, you’ll learn the good, the bad and ugly. Keep in mind that the people you’re speaking with are your future customers!
Finding out the answers to these questions is paramount. Remember, you’re not looking to be everything to everybody. Identify the biggest pain and hunger.
10. What will you do better than your competition?
Business titan and founder of Walmart, Sam Walton, realized one key thing early on. And it’s a simple one. Walton discovered that he had to be only 5% better than his competition.
Know this. Walmart was a rounding error compared to industry leader K-Mart. By focusing on being only 5% better, Walton ensured Walmart became the industry leader. Although it didn’t happen overnight, it happened.
You know the biggest hunger, aka pain, of your target market. Focus and obsess on this pain.
In the case of Square, the co-founders ensured it was easy and quick to start accepting credit cards. Offering simplicity and low rates sealed the deal.
My fellow entrepreneur, repetition is the mother of success. With this in mind, remember that you can make more money now by solving massive problems.
11. How can you do market tests that are small and often?
Congratulations on making it this far! Although this process is critical, we can agree it’s not short or easy.
Entrepreneurs often overlook question 11. You may have the perfect answers for the first ten questions but know this.
It’s at this point that many entrepreneurs make a mad dash out of the gates. The sky’s the limit, right? So let’s rent a big office and print the best marketing materials!
Keep it small and simple.
Go back to the people you spoke with in question 9 and talk to them about your offering. If you’re lucky, they’ll tell you all the reasons why they won’t become a customer.
As painful as this is, the feedback you’re getting is pure gold. Listen to the criticism and take great notes. Those harsh comments identify your blind spots and help develop a better offering.
When you get to the point where the people you’re speaking with ASK YOU to become a customer, you’re almost done.
Speak to more people. Spend a few marketing dollars to find out if your message resonates. Learn from your failures and cut what’s not working. Find that marketing channel that brings you customer after customer. Only when customers are rolling in the door, do you spend more money to grow your business.
Let Problems Be Your Guide and Friend
Problems are opportunities in disguise.
Ask the right questions, and you’ll get the right answers.
Make more money now by solving massive problems.
As an entrepreneur, you have a unique opportunity not available to most. Your opportunity is this. Learn how to find problems that create pain for many people and solve these problems. Congratulations as you are now changing lives for the better and profiting.
Here’s to you and your success!
Quote of the Day: “Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.” Khalil Gibran