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Steve Blank - Solving problems is good, awakening needs even better
The art of solving a problem and gradually creating a real need out of it is not something that many people succeed in doing. However, if this succeeds, one has the opportunity to open up an incredibly large market. Apple + iPhone (Browser+Mail+Media) == a multi-billion need created.
Establishing a product on the market can become an almost impossible, unattainable undertaking. Usually it is your own problems that you encounter or in your immediate environment which you like to see solved. Here often an idea is born and you start to do something... You become an "entrepreneur". The world is full of problems that need to be solved every day. And as soon as you have taken care of one of these problems, a new one follows. The problem with solving these problems is that we might be able to make a small group of people happy.
But how can we manage to address a much larger number of the more than 7 billion people on earth without solving only a single problem? There are countless examples of this in recent industrial history. Let's take Apple. Who needs a smartphone for over 1,000 euros? Others buy a good desktop computer with a 27" monitor and several accessories. Apple started to solve one problem, well, actually several problems at once. Whether it's surfing the Internet on the go, making phone calls, editing e-mails, or consuming media content. Actually, the story is told here, isn't it? Apple has recognized these problems, solved them in a very good way and could have opened up new horizons and tackle the next problem.
Exactly now the difficult part begins, the part of transformation. Apple, of course, wanted to solve one or several problems, but didn't give in and continued working so hard. Who doesn't know these crazy queues of people who sleep in front of the Apple stores two days before the release of the new iPhone and can't wait? Apple has managed to turn a problem and its solution into a need. People feel comfortable with it, they want the newest iPhone, no matter if it is really worth the new price. It's a status symbol, like the Porsche.
Of course we should always solve problems and keep that in mind, but our focus should go beyond this horizon, we are entrepreneurs, visionaries ... We have an eye for the big picture and so we have to be open to creating a need. If this next step succeeds, it is difficult to stop this step again. If you are missing some examples here: YouTube has solved a big problem, today it is a very big need for billions of people every day to watch videos there, no matter how idiotic and sense-free they may be. Facebook has managed to address a problem of communication and created a need for so many people to expose themselves there. Basically, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are an almost unique example of how you can construct people's "needs". Actually, the service is a total waste of time and so full of half-truths and unnecessary, information-free posts, but - and here you really have to raise your hat! - hardly anyone has better understood how to reach billions of people and accumulate a breathtaking wealth.
If we manage to solve a problem and at the same time build up a need and perhaps even reach a broad audience, we can manage (also financially) to make a big hit. Our advertising measures and the development of our products should always focus on this.
This article is written by our CEO, Bernd Korz. With his experience as an entrepreneur, he shares his vision about the lessons provided by Steve Blank. Join us every week for a new article on Steve Blank’s lectures.
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