February 7th, 2018

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As someone with an entrepreneurial mind, you’ve dreamed of one day opening your own business. But beyond becoming your own boss and potentially making bookoo bucks in the process, you know it takes more than opening a storefront and selling your wears to experience success.

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The secret formula is different for every new and longtime business owner. But those who want to experience success in the short and long term know one thing: You need to sell a product or service that solves a problem or fills a hole in the market — and that can exist and compete with other like-minded businesses. Here are several ways to get started.

Find a Hole in the Market

Have you ever stopped to think how in the world entrepreneurs decided to go against the grain and start companies like Netflix and Uber? While video rental and taxi services had been around for quite some time, the innovators behind Netflix and Uber knew they can fill a void in the market by providing more efficient solutions.

In that same vein, ask yourself if there’s a product, tool or service you can create or fine-tune to make consumers’ lives easier and/or more enjoyable. Hootsuite is a great example of this type of product. As social media has become more and more essential for businesses to reach their target audiences, marketing teams no doubt have spent countless hours posting original content to their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages in a separate yet meaningful way.

But Hootsuite works to make this process more efficient. In particular, social media teams can quickly access the feeds of each platform they use, as well as schedule posts at specific times of the day from one user interface. They even can see analytics from each of their social media platforms directly in Hootsuite instead of sifting through each one separately, saving them untold time and effort. Indeed, Hootsuite has helped create greater efficiencies for many organizations worldwide.

Develop a Better Solution

If you’re encountering more than a minor problem or frustration in your industry, then it’s time to develop a better solution. That’s the approach tire manufacturers took when they created what we now call flotation tires. In the farming and agricultural industries, traditional tires on tractors and other equipment would sink into loose sediment and lose traction in the field.

In comparison, flotation tires are designed to float over sand, dirt or loose sediment in order to minimize soil disturbance in agricultural environments, as compared to other types of tires that dig in and damage the soil. But that’s not all. Flotation tires are also a crucial component for off-roading vehicles, as their traction prevents drivers from getting stuck in any dirt or mud.

Indeed, these tires illustrate you don’t have to stick with the status quo, but rather can develop a better solution.

Solve a Personal Issue

Some entrepreneurs never intended to start a business, but they quickly got to work after experiencing issues firsthand that needed to be resolved. Essentially, this is how Brett Heising’s company brettapproved.com got off the ground. In particular, Heising was tired of calling hotels, restaurants, theatres and more to ensure they were handicapped-friendly — only to find out they weren’t upon arrival. Talk about leaving someone with limited options in a lurch.

Today, Heising’s website helps people with disabilities and mobility challenges travel with confidence by finding businesses and destinations throughout the U.S. that cater to those in need of greater accessibility. Think of brettapproved.com as something like Yelp, as visitors to the site use a similar rating system to appraise specific businesses from the standpoint of accessibility.

In the end, if you have a personal issue that no one wants to address, take it upon yourself to create a product or service that finds a solution.

Ultimately, Look for Ways to Stand Out

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business for decades or are just starting out. If your products or services don’t solve a problem that consumers routinely experience, then you’ll have a hard time competing against other companies with more resources. Ultimately, to ensure your business experiences success, look for ways to stand out, listen to your target audience, and develop a great product or service that makes their lives easier; after all, that’s what entrepreneurship is all about.

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