I just finished reading the book – Meaningful, by Bernadette Jiwa. In the book she talks about the importance of “Invisible Problems”and refers to a TED Talk delivered by Tony Fadell. I watched the talk and would recommend that all entrepreneurs should watch the talk, multiple times.Seth Godin introduces him selves as someone who notices things for a living.
If you look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs of this generation, you will notice that all of them started with a problem that all of us faced but did not see it as a potential for value creation:
AirBnB saw that there were people who had a need and another set of people who could fulfil the need.
FaceBook noticed our need to connect and stay in touch with our friends.
Uber noticed the frustration we feel when we are waiting for a taxi.
Sheroes noticed the special needs that women have from a career perspective.
GoPro noticed the frustration of not having a camera that was suitable for outdoor, adventure activities.
Etsy noticed the frustration of artists who wanted to set shop and sell their goods online.
Kickstarter noticed the frustration of inventors and creators in getting funds for their projects.
The list goes on. The only thing that they did was to notice these as problems and set out to address them.
All innovation starts with noticing these invisible problems. Some call them insights.
Once you have noticed a problem that is invisible for most of us, you have an excellent starting point to create something that will resonate with us, without you having to convince us about its value.
These are the products or services that when we come across, makes us feel that they make perfect sense and make us think why no one thought of it earlier.
The question we need to ask is the following:
Is this a learned skill and if yes, how does one go about learning to notice things.
Tony already does share some suggestions on how can we go about learning this skill.
In my opinion, the single most important skill that can help us in this regard is our ability to stay curious.
Every time we tell someone that is how it is, we need to stop and think about the situation again. There might be an invisible problem worth solving.
Every time we find ourselves complaining about things, we need to stop and explore it a bit more.
Every time we hear some one utter the words, “this is so frustrating”, we need to stop and explore.
Every time we hear our child ask a question and don’t know the answer, we need to stop and explore.
It is much easier to push things downstream rather than push it upstream. Identifying and solving an invisible problem is like pushing a product or service downstream. Its easier, faster and gains momentum quickly, which is of course assuming that we have done a good job in identifying the problem well and the solution is easier, faster and simple to use.
There are other things that you can implement into the solution for spreading the idea faster.
However, the fact remains that if we get good at this, our ability to come up with great products/services increases multi-fold.
So, what invisible problem have you noticed recently?
You can watch the entire TED Talk by Tony Fadell below:
In today’s episode, we host Natasha, founder & CEO of www.NatsyByDesign.com – an online store that supports artisans by brining their work directly to the consumer.
In this free wheeling conversation, we talk about what it means to succeed and fail and how important it is for entrepreneurs to continue to learn.
She shares her learning and challenges around scaling a business that depends on people who work on their own schedules and are not very keen on innovations around their traditional designs.
She also shares some of the challenges that she continues to face and how she copes up with these challenges.
This is a good episode to listen to if you are an entrepreneur, to understand that you are not alone in the struggles.. That the struggle and the hustle is part of the journey.. And that its not if you will hit a wall in your entrepreneurial journey but a question of when..
This episode and other episodes that I have recorded with other entrepreneurs are dedicated to all my entrepreneurial friends. You make the world go around – so pls don’t stop believing in yourself or in your dream.. We need you more than you know!
I have found that most good things in life start with questions.. Our minds have the tendency to answer any question that is posed to us.. Irrespective of whether we want to or not. For example, if I were to ask you:
What is 10 time 10?
Your mind would have already calculated the answer irrespective of whether you wanted to answer it or not.
We can use this same tendency to ask more deeper questions as well. For example, how to create better products and/or businesses?
We could also take our business on a growth trajectory, by finding answers to the following questions?
What does my customer really care about?
Where and how do they discover us?
What do we want them to experience when they work with us?
How can we help them tell their story (of our interaction) to their friends?
This of course is assuming that you already have answers to the more basic questions:
Who is my customers?
What value do they think we provide to them?
What other ways can we provide the same value to them?
Where do they hang out? How can we be a part of that gang?
One thing that we need to remember is that just as your mind will answer good questions, it will also answer bad questions.. So, we need to be careful about the kind of questions that we pose to ourselves, our teams and our customers..
So, what questions are we going to ask ourselves, our teams and our customers today?
As part of the Help a 1000 Entrepreneurs project that I have launched, the second enterprise that I would like to promote and share about is www.NatsyByDesign.com.
You will love this site if you have a discerning taste and like hand crafted stuff made by artisans using hundreds of years old techniques.
India has been home to hundreds of different types of crafts that has been passed on from one generation of artisans to another for centuries. Some of the art forms are even a few thousand years old. Of late, the artisans have found it difficult to survive and there has been a movement by extremely dedicated patrons to help these artisans survive so that the art form doesn’t vanish.
The challenge in this is two-fold:
You need to be able to design new contemporary designs using these age old art forms, so that these products find home in the modern homes.
You need to find customers or people who appreciate this effort and are willing to pay that little bit of premium for the products.
This is where the entire e-commerce business model has come to help.
The founder has actually created an online store that has products made by more than 50 art forms with thousands of product options.
What I like about the product:
The focus of the business – which is to present the various art crafts with modern designs while at the same time remain authentic to the craft.
Contemporary designs which are not only authentic to the craft but chic to wear and use at home.
What I would like to see more:
It would be really nice to know more about the art form while looking at the products made using the art form. That way, the customer will be able to appreciate the product better and hence are willing to pay a premium.
This is a hybrid e-commerce model with a physical experience store in Bangalore for customers to touch and feel the product if they want and a e-commerce website for people to order online.
The key value proposition that the business offers is the following:
Hand-crafted products ensure that there is a level of exclusivity of the products.
The emotional satisfaction for the customer of having helped a art/craft form revive.
Ideas for the founder:
Create or link to videos that that show how a particular product is crafted and where possible share a story about the artisan and their lives. This will ensure that the people who buy the products appreciate it even more.
Host online events to talk about the various art and craft forms that are more than a century old. This will help build even more authority for the business in the niche that they are in.
Hold member only pre-launches before introducing new products or product lines like preview sale that brick and mortar stores run for their existing customers. Even offer exclusive products for members only.
Create a focus product of the day/week/Month which the founder can showcase with a lot more information about the product/craft/artisan.
Create a referral system for existing customers.
For every new friend that an existing customer refers, they get points that they can use to buy products from the catalogue.
Alternately, Allow an existing customer add a product to wishlist. Based on the product that they have added to the wish list, the team can actually suggest the number of friends that they need to refer in order to get the item shipped for free to them.
Add pre-order capability within the platform, ie, create a product in the digital form and ask for pre-orders from the patrons before actually producing the product.
Create exclusive limited edition products (for pre-order or on produce).
Overall, if you love arts and hand crafted products, this is a great site for you to find more than 6 lines of products made by 50+ different types of art forms, then NatsyByDesign is a great place for you to buy.
This is also a great site to find art/craft based products that you can buy as a gift for someone you love.