I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Entrepreneurship is not solely about a having a great idea and running with it, it’s also about finding a gap in the market, and filling it.
One common mistake people make when beginning a new venture is that they spend 80% of their time on their solution (in the form of a service, or a product, for example), only leaving the remaining 20% of their time to figure out the rest of the entrepreneurial process, which includes analyzing the problem it solves for the market, and, as previously stated, determining whether or not there’s a gap for it. This can lead to issues of finding insurmountable flaws in said solution, or the sad realization that it simply won’t work.
The idea is to place greater emphasis on the process leading up to the solution, as opposed to the solution itself, in the interest of reaching one that is properly fleshed out and that will have a greater chance of attaining success.
The following are 5 steps you can take to avoid making this mistake:
Focus in on a part of the market that you would like to innovate. Are you interested in sustainability? Does maximizing a company’s operations appeal to you? Once you’ve narrowed it down, go a bit further and determine where there is room for improvement in the current landscape.
Sit in a variety of spaces that feel relevant to you based on industry type, such as coffee shops, working areas, or stores, and make note of what you see with reference to design, layout, customer interaction and composition, etc. If your chosen area of interest is operational maximization and you've chosen to sit in a coffee shop, have you noticed that the line-up is unbearably long? If you're taking the sustainability angle, is there an overflow of plastic cups in the garbage, when they should really be discarded in a recycling bin, or replaced by reusable mugs altogether? Identifying key design problems will help you in narrowing down what type of solution you need to devise.
For the purpose of clarity, let's cut out the extra examples and say that your area of interest is sustainability and your chosen space for observation is a coffee shop. Conduct interviews with the people in the coffee shop to see what they’ve noticed, or why they continue perpetuating poor sustainability practices. Maybe they don’t feel incentivized to bring reusable cups with them, they’re not knowledgeable with respect to properly discarding their t0-go cups, or they don't understand the harmful impact their actions can have on the environment. Go ahead and ask yourself what would incentivise people to change their ways, or how the coffee shop could go about educating their customers. In addition to this, you can put up surveys, or polls, online to find out what individuals not currently located in the coffee shop have to say. In doing so, you'll also be able to collect demographics pertinent to your process.
At this point, you should be able to identify the average type of individual dealing with the key problems you pinpointed in steps 1-3. Set up a profile for them. Are they typically a student? What does their day-to-day look like? Most importantly, where do your potential solutions fit into their routine?
NOW you can take a list of viable solutions, and go back to your target demographic to see which ones they would implement, or consume, and which ones aren't worth looking into any further.
All in all, you must remember that your innovation is meant to solve a historically unsolved problem for a particular group, not just to sound cool. Go through the necessary exercises in order to arrive at a conclusion that is well-thought out and relevant to your target demographic, and you will go very far.