The simple questions I forgot to answer when starting a business

I can easily remember the bittersweet combination of excitement and fear of starting my business last year. I was finally making my dreams come true and feeling free from the normal work life. I could structure my days just like I wanted and was busy with everything: creating my website and first blog posts, networking and starting the first processes with paying clients. Everything was new, exciting and overwhelming.

In that phase, I realized there were so many questions I needed to answer. What kind of website do I want to create? What services am I offering? How much will I charge? Where can I find customers? How should I send my invoices? Where can I do my accounting? How much will I earn this year? And so on. The answers to these questions were and still are important and often required, for example, in a business plan. Now, afterwards, I have realized that all of them have one problem in common: They are all focused on ME.

When I am focusing only on what I want to do and create, I often forget that I need other people to succeed and make it all happen. And if I want other people to invest their time/money/effort on me doing something, I need to be able to know what the value is that I bring to THEM, not to myself. That is why I think it is important for each of us to spend some time to answering these questions before anything else:

What problem am I solving?

This question may seem obvious, but it is something that is not asked frequently enough. After all, if we do not know the problem, how can we know we have the right solution?

Other related questions are: What kind of problem is it? What do I know about the problem? Am I able to solve it? What other problems are related to it? And my personal favorite: Why is it a problem? The more specific answers you can give to these questions, the easier it is to pitch the relevance of your idea and answer the following questions.

Whose problem is it?

And even more importantly: Are those people able or willing to pay someone to solve it? We all have problems with different things, but it does not mean we are willing or able to pay someone else to solve them for us.

That is why it is good to develop your solution for people who suffer the most from that problem and then find out who is willing to pay for it. Sometimes it is an individual and other times an organization who offers it to its end-users. With these answers, you can define your target audience and ideal customers.

What value does this solution create?

The answer to this naturally varies based on who you are thinking about, but the first step would be defining it for the ones who are investing in it. This is particularly important in services provided for organizations: What is the value of your service/training/coaching for the whole organization, not just for the individuals who are benefiting from it?

If there are others who are solving the same problem, how is your answer different? What will the customer miss out on if he or she does not buy it from you? For long-term success, differentiation is often the key.

Knowing the problem, your potential customers and the value of your solution are core parts of your business, and they will help you make decisions on the other parts and communicate clearly to all stakeholders. Regularly answering these questions also helps you to develop your solution further and increase the value you can create.

Once you have taken the time to answer these questions, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below! I would love to hear what problems you are solving, and maybe there are others who are solving them too and could collaborate with you.

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