Thursday, September 30, 2010

Business Plans from the Edge

When you want to start a business, start with identifying a need customers have. This is a great way to start, if you're writing a business plan for a class taught by someone who has been away from the business world for a long time.

Customers don't know their needs. "If Henry Ford has asked his customers what they need, they would have responded "faster horses,'" Ford is supposed to have said. 

Back on Planet Reality, you can't often identify customer needs. Instead, try identifying general human anxieties:

- weight loss
- taxes
- public speaking
- rejection in love
- unemployment
- being sued
- child rearing
- family time
- infertility
- companionship
- uncomfortable confrontations with neighbors
- growing influence of foreign governments
- yard work
- flatulence
- food safety (Look at the expiration date on this milk carton. Is it safe?) 

Next, try to solve the problems causing those anxieties. Or easier still, alleviate the symptoms of those anxieties. Whenever they drink alcohol, eat MSG-laden tortilla chips, or watch television, aren't they just trying to forget their problems? Come up with more substantive blocks for pain, and you will create, then dominate, a huge market. 

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