Let’s face it. What worked for one company or an entrepreneur might not work for you. However, that should not stop us from learning from their mistakes and the mistakes that led them to building successful products/services both commercially and in terms of solving a need or bridging the gaps.
Our biggest takeaways are:
This first step in becoming a problem-solver is to focus in on the what. What’s missing? How could it be better?
The wonderful thing about frustration is that you are not alone in feeling it. What you are experiencing is an actual problem that a future business may be able to solve.
Back in January 2009, Jan Koum, the founder of Whatsapp, joined the millions of Americans starting to feel frustrated by the new iPhone. Despite the huge upgrade from his last phone, he couldn’t understand how he still managed to miss so many calls. At the gym, in a meeting, or just busy — his friends never knew when was the best time to reach him.
During those first weeks of January, Jan couldn’t get it of out his head: what if there was a way to alert contacts when he could or couldn’t take a call? Scrolling through the iPhone contact interface, he imagined small symbols indicating availability. He was determined to make a prototype and, drawing on another longtime frustration at losing his Skype login and passwords, he knew this app would be directly tied to a phone number.
By Jan’s birthday on February 24th, he had already landed on the name, WhatsApp to play off what’s up, and registered the company with his friend and former Yahoo colleague, Brian Acton. Over the next few months, they were disappointed by low downloads of the app but when Apple introduced push notifications that summer, WhatsApp status changes began to ping between users. Suddenly, the world’s most famous chat app was born and Jan’s original problem — frustration with missing calls — was solved.
Imagine a better future
When the problem that is frustrating you becomes obvious, it might be difficult to get out of your head. But to get the most out of your frustration, next you need to use your imagination to visualize what a solution could look like.
Arianna Huffington launched several businesses on her own using this key tactic. She said, “You have to do what you dream of doing even while you’re afraid.” Try to envision a future where your problem has been solved and your frustration never existed. What does that world look like? How does this product or service work? What does it feel like to use it? Answering these questions can help you visualize and then actualize your solution.
The critical ingredient is getting off and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.
—Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s
Reflecting on your problem and imagining a solution will only take your frustration so far. To truly turn annoyance into opportunity, you need action, you need to bring in something called the Productive Mindset. As Melanie Kernodle points out in her productivity hacks, “having a productivity mindset means that you are clear and focused on your goals and using all of your personal resources to achieve those goals in an organized manner.”
With a Productive Mindset, you can fight frustration by deciding to act on your hunch — even if that means taking a risk and ignoring self-doubt. Even if you feel unsure, remember that statistics are on your side. After all, people who take more risks — whether acting on ideas or investing their earnings — report higher levels of satisfaction than those that don’t (2005 University of Bonn study). The same seems to be true for wealth: ignoring their own self-doubts, those who ask for more money during salary negotiations, earn more money; meanwhile, self-made millionaires cite risky action and resulting failure as one of the main reasons they succeed (Business Brilliant).
So, how can you get moving on that solution? First, draw on some of the positive thoughts and dreams you came up with in the first two steps. Channel those feelings into motivation to move.
The next time you feel frustrated, call on the Productive Mindset. Pinpoint the gap where your unique entrepreneurial solution can fit.
It’s not about being the “Next” or the “Unique”, but yes we always have inspirational individuals amongst us. Learning is a life long process despite age barriers.
We are no experts, but we are learning from the experts.