The world’s most successful businesspeople have something in common with the world’s greatest inventors. It’s simply this:
Instead of answering the questions people are already asking, they look for new, better questions to answer.
The thing about business is that it’s already overflowing with vendors, offering the marketplace whatever the marketplace is asking for.
The challenges here are twofold:
- By offering what your marketplace wants, you leave very little room for innovation — the very thing that you need in order to stand out and be noticed.
- The marketplace doesn’t usually know what it wants, until someone creates it. As Henry Ford famously said; “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. There was also zero demand for tablet devices, until Apple created the iPad. Today, the iPad is a mass-market consumer item.
So, how do you spot what your marketplace wants, before they ask for it?
Look for unspoken challenges
Over the years, I have helped clients worldwide to develop new products and services, which are hugely popular and profitable. In every instance, I started by asking the client a series of questions. One of these questions, which you can work on today without my one-to-one help, is this:
What unspoken challenge is your marketplace faced with, which you could provide an answer to?
For example, the iPad was Apple’s answer to the netbook problem. Remember netbooks? They were small, cheap, underpowered laptops, which people used primarily to surf the net [hence the name netbook]. They had low quality displays and were awkward to use. However, they sold by the million, because they were easier to carry than a laptop and had better battery life.
The huge popularity of netbooks showed that there was a demand for what we now call consumption devices — devices which people used to consume information and chat on social networks. Although you could get things done with even the first iPad, it immediately plugged the consumption gap.
It was an elegant, great looking answer to a problem, which the marketplace didn’t even know it had. It has been so successful, that tablet sales have eaten into a huge chunk of the laptop market. It’s one of the best selling electronic products in history — even though NO ONE was asking for a tablet!
Here’s a suggestion
Take some time out to think about the challenges facing your marketplace. Look for solutions, which people will value. No, this isn’t easy, which is why people work with me in order to get the answers they need, but if you get it right, it can improve your business beyond recognition.