Clients Are Tired of the Guessing

business Jul 20, 2022

By Patricia Wooster

Whether you are starting a business, creating a new product line, or writing a book, the first question to ask yourself is: what is the problem I can solve that others are not solving? Even if you are operating within a particular niche or industry that is already defined, it is important to find that sizzle or little something extra your business can offer that no one else is paying attention to or addressing. This problem needs to be:

  • An existing issue that people are aware of exists within their life or business.
  • Solvable by your business or idea.
  • Something you are excited to solve so you can transfer that excitement to future clients and conversations.
  • Easily identifiable. You don't want to convince people they have a problem they are unaware exists. 
  • Explainable on a napkin

Consider the start of Southwest Airlines. In 1967, Herb Kelleher and Rollin King wanted to solve the problem of providing fast and affordable air travel between the three cities of San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. With a cocktail napkin and a pen, a major airline was born. 

So, where can we find our big ideas or the problems worth solving for our clients and business?

Start by spending time with your clients and ideal business partners. At Designing Genius, we have spent thousands of hours on the phone and in-person speaking with clients, industry experts, potential partners, and investors. We have listened to their problems, challenges, and where things have changed in their business. As we have started building this new business, it has been imperative to us that we do not assume where people are stuck or struggling. 

Through this due diligence process, we gained insights that improved our college-accredited Designing Genius course and uncovered an entirely new professional position and certification program we are bringing to the corporate marketplace. Our enthusiasm to address this new economy is bringing new and exciting people to the table who want to join our mission. This is the by-product of finding a problem worth solving. Once we identified a problem we could solve, it had to pass the napkin test. 

Twenty years ago, when I sold enterprise software, my boss told me that I needed to learn how to sell our software to someone at a bar using only a cocktail napkin and a pen to explain how and why the person sitting next to me wanted and needed it. This was not easy because it was mainframe software and about unsexy as it gets, but it was a great exercise in condensing information and developing an elevator pitch. Here's how to create your Idea Napkin:

  1. Write a 1-Sentence Descriptor of your idea
  2. Answer the following questions:
  3. What does this solve?
  4. How does this benefit a client?
  5. Create a sketch that demonstrates the client experience by addressing their needs + problems + solution

Based on your Idea Napkin, do you feel like you could explain your entire idea to someone in just a few minutes? If the answer is "yes," you have something to build upon. If the answer is "no," you may need to refine your idea or your elevator pitch.

Next time you wonder how to differentiate yourself or your business, consider the end-user and their problems. Better yet. Have a conversation with the people you want to serve. It only takes one napkin to reach a mountain of success.


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