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The Entrepreneurial Secret: See a World That Doesn’t Exist
Mental Models, Performance, Business & Entrepreneurship | newsletter.scottdclary.com
Here is my weekly email discussing mental models, performance, business and entrepreneurship.
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The Entrepreneurial Secret: See a World That Doesn’t Exist
Recently, we crossed the 250-episode mark with the Success Story Podcast—an accomplishment that caught me off guard. The three years of interviews have flown by, and it’s hard to remember every single moment of talking to so many talented people.
So I’ve started going back through the interviews to see if I missed any key insights.
Boy, did I.
One that stuck out is my discussion with Keenan Beasley of Venture Noire. The primary topic was about Black venture capital investment and how he was working to generate support for minority CEOs.
I’d love to say that Keenan’s work has dramatically changed the venture landscape in the years since we spoke, but that’s not true. In 2022, Black entrepreneurs saw a disproportionate fall in VC funding—a 45% drop overall.
That part of the conversation is a lot broader than what we can discuss in a newsletter, and frankly, I’m not the one that should be leading it. For that, I’ll let Venture Noire do the talking.
But there was another part of the interview I overlooked at the time (likely because of the shocking numbers that Keenan shared) that I want to dig into today.
“We are supposed to see a world that doesn’t exist. That’s our job, fundamentally, as entrepreneurs.”
Such a powerful statement and a philosophy that many fledgling entrepreneurs misunderstand.
Identifying a problem worth solving
To be an entrepreneur, you need to change the world.
That sounds a little daunting, doesn’t it? Let me explain.
We often get caught up searching for the next big idea or following the latest trends. You wouldn’t believe how often pitch meetings throw out grand, misguided visions like “Instagram…but for windsurfing.”
But, as Keenan put it, the fundamental job is to see a future where a specific problem is solved. To see the world that doesn’t exist yet, and move us toward it.
So, how do we spot potential problems that need addressing?
The answer is simple. Just pay attention.
Every day, we encounter various challenges and imperfections. Maybe you've experienced an ineffective customer service process or noticed gaps in the market that haven't been adequately addressed. These experiences can serve as valuable indicators of potential problems.
Next, it's all about validating the problem you've identified. Is it something prevalent enough that needs solving? Ask yourself these questions:
How much pain does this problem cause for people?
Are people willing to pay for a solution to alleviate this pain?
Would your solution save people time, money, or another valuable resource?
Are any existing businesses attempting to solve the same problem, and how successful are they?
Finally, don't be afraid to engage with real people. Discover your target audience, explore their pain points, and gather feedback. Through these conversations, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the problem and how it affects people on a day-to-day basis.
You'll be able to refine your idea and further assess the viability of your potential solution. Remember, empathy plays a significant role here—you don’t necessarily have to experience the pain yourself, but you better understand what it feels like.
Defining the solution you want to provide
Creating a solution that effectively addresses a problem requires foresight, strategic planning, and understanding the market. Let's dive deeper into the steps you should take to define the solution you want to provide.
Research your direct and indirect competitors to learn about their approaches and strategies when tackling similar challenges. Take note of their strengths, weaknesses, and how customers perceive their solutions.
Sometimes, you’ll see a flaw in the plan or someone already solving it without you knowing.
By gathering competitive intelligence, you'll gain insights into potential opportunities and areas for improvement, allowing you to work backward from the ideal future state and create a compelling roadmap for your solution.
Align objectives and solutions
Don't just slap some buzzwords like “transparency, loyalty, and hard work” on your About Us page and call it a day.
Crafting a meaningful solution requires digging deep and truly understanding what's important to you personally and professionally. Of course, financial success might be a significant motivator, but what about other factors?
Family, community, or simply creating a more convenient experience for people might matter more!
To impact your business more deeply, look inward and identify your core values and aspirations. Then, work to align these personal drivers with your solution authentically.
Always keep the problem-solving aspect at the heart of your business. Every action and decision should reflect your core values and align with the solution you're creating. This sense of purpose will fuel your passion for the business and resonate with your customers and community.
Essentially, aligning your objectives and solutions is about finding harmony between what truly matters in your life and the world you want to create for your customers. By taking a reflective approach and focusing on authentic values and passions, your business will be well-positioned to deliver lasting impact and success.
Unique value proposition
Now that you have a clear picture of the competitive landscape and have aligned your objectives with your solution, it's time to develop your unique value proposition (UVP).
Your UVP is the key differentiator that sets your solution apart, helping customers understand why they should choose your offering over others.
Target audience: Identify the specific group of people that your solution serves, and tailor your messaging to resonate with them.
Benefits and features: Highlight your solution's unique benefits and features that will improve customers' lives and solve their problems.
Emotional connection: Consider how your solution impacts your customers emotionally, and use that connection to craft your UVP.
By crafting a compelling UVP, you'll effectively communicate the distinct advantages of your solution, reinforcing the idea that you've seen the world where the problem no longer exists and have taken the necessary steps to get there.
Reaching beyond the trends
It's easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of the latest trends and fads, watching simple ideas become massive successes overnight. But quick exits are the exception, not the rule.
For most entrepreneurs, you’ll need to reach beyond superficial issues and focus on your customers' underlying problems and needs.
Chasing trends vs. addressing long-term issues
When you chase trends, you're playing catch-up, trying to ride a wave of popularity someone else created.
Sure, it might offer some quick returns, but it's usually unsustainable. On the other hand, focusing on addressing genuine long-term issues creates a solid foundation for your business, resulting in loyal customers and lasting value.
To rise above fleeting trends, look for persistent and widespread problems—the kind of issues that people will always face, regardless of the latest craze. Keep an open mind, listen to the concerns of your target audience, and seek opportunities to provide sustainable solutions with lasting impact.
Merging financial success with a problem-solving mindset
Don’t get me wrong. Running a business requires financial stability. But it doesn't mean you should disregard the problem-solving aspect of entrepreneurship.
You can (and should) merge financial success with a genuine commitment to addressing the issues that matter to your customers.
Think about it this way: when your business solves real-life problems, your customers are likelier to become brand advocates, spreading the word about your products or services. This naturally leads to growth and financial success.
Case studies of entrepreneurs who have discovered value in solving problems
Many successful entrepreneurs exemplify the power of a problem-solving mindset. Take Warby Parker, for example. The founders recognized a real problem—overpriced eyewear—and launched an affordable, direct-to-consumer solution that transformed the industry.
Or consider Airbnb, which arose from the founders' pain point in finding affordable lodging while attending a conference. They saw the opportunity to address this common issue, creating a platform that has since revolutionized the travel and accommodation industry.
These examples prove that reaching beyond the trends and focusing on solving problems can lead to incredibly successful and transformative businesses. So, bear in mind that by keeping your customers' needs and solving long-term issues at the forefront, you'll be positioning your business for lasting success and impact.
Staying committed to your vision
Sometimes, that world you visualize—the one where your problem is solved—won't be easy to find.
Obstacles and setbacks may seem to cloud your vision, making the journey daunting. In these moments, it's crucial to stay committed to your purpose and remain focused on the ultimate goal: creating a solution that makes a difference in people's lives.
Setbacks and failures may be disheartening, but they're a natural part of entrepreneurship.
Instead of letting them derail your progress, view these challenges as opportunities to learn and refine your solution. Each bump in the road can provide valuable insights that will ultimately improve your offering and help you better address the problem you're tackling.
I get it. You want to start a business to make money. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that.
But you’ll only find real success if you can imagine something that currently doesn’t exist. Not necessarily a better mousetrap or a specific product. But the world where the problem has been solved.
If you build it, they will come. (Any opportunity for a little Field of Dreams is worth taking.)
Before leaving you, just one more thing. You should take 45 minutes and listen to my whole conversation with Keenan. It was oddly (and unfortunately) prophetic as we discussed exactly what appears to be happening now—the fleeting momentum built for Black-owned startups.
We have to keep talking about this.
You can find it over on the Success Story YouTube page, with hundreds of interviews with other thought leaders. Otherwise, I’ll talk to you next week!
If you enjoyed this article, I’d love to hear from you.
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