Is Your Business Idea Based on Pain or Pleasure?

November 3, 2013

A business idea either solves a pain or provides a pleasure.
Ok, this is a bit simplistic but it serves us well when we start to brainstorm on possible business ideas within our passions.
So let’s begin with a story.
Learning about success
In May 2008 I went to a Tony Robbins Wealth Mastery Weekend seminar in London. This seminar was part of a package I bought after being blown away in my very first Tony Robbins UPW (Unleash the Power Within) seminar a few months earlier. I actually met my now-husband there too so that probably also influenced me into a signing up for three more seminars (more on that story some day…).
The Wealth Mastery seminar was the one I was least interested in but it was a part of the package and I would be able to see the handsome man I met in February. I was more excited about the prospect of meeting him than actually learning about how to create wealth. Tony Robbins was actually not there but the speakers were quite good and I did learn a few things about investing. But something so much better was about to happen that made me cry and learn about love and business at the same time.
One of the speakers at the seminar was Keith Cunningham, a serial business owner of over 15 businesses, turnaround expert and an experienced speaker. Over the weekend he did several talks but the one that stood out for me was when he talked about success in business. What I remember so well from his talk is that he talked about failing, about losing everything, and then getting back on his feet and becoming even more successful than before because he had a vision on how he wanted to live his life. Keith wanted to explain success in business to the audience and instead of telling us yet another business success story, he made it personal. Everybody leaned in and listened.
A little love story

When Keith was totally broke he met Sandy, a successful publisher, and he instantly fell in love with her. He decided to take a chance and invite her out for a dinner and to his delight she accepted his offer. He knew that this date had to go well otherwise she would not want to see him again. When they sat down for dinner he asked the waiter for a pen and paper and asked Sandy if he could ask her a few questions. She was okay with that so he started:
Keith: What do you want?
Sandy: …. I want to be loved, I want to be admired, I want to receive a love note every day…
(I thought to myself –  I love her wishes, I want that too!)
When Sandy had listed all her wishes she also got a pen and paper:
Sandi: What do you want?
Keith: I want to be loved.
Then Keith called out into the audience: “Sandy, can you please stand up”. And Keith started to go over her list of wants and how he had fulfilled every one of her wishes: “Since the day I met her, 7 years ago, I have left her a love note every single day”.
Now I couldn’t hold back the tears even though I tried. I want this too I said to the handsome man next to me. And even though we were not a couple then he took me into his arms and hugged me.
But Keith wasn’t just telling us his love story, he was telling us his 3-step success formula for business:

  1. Find Out What They Want (FOWTW)
  2. Go And Get It (GAGI)
  3. Give It To Them (GITT)

The reason I remember this formula so well is that he used it to sweep his now-wife of her feet. And my now-husband uses it too!
If you are creative person then I suggest adapting the formula in the following way:

  1. Create a community for your fans
  2. Make products & services you love
  3. Share and sell them to your fans

Let’s get back to the pain and pleasure…
Business ideas built on pain

Winter boots

Here is a typical pain problem. I bought the winter boots on the left in 2011 and a few months later I had wet feet when walking in heavy snow. So I had a pain and needed a solution. I got myself new winter boots, the one on the right, that are solid in snow and rain.

In some ways business ideas built on pain are easier to come by than the ones built on pleasure. We see a problem that we wish we had a solution to and when we have searched and researched and still not found a good solution we may decide to make the solution ourselves. The good thing about solving a problem that you have, is that it is very likely that other people also have the same problem. And what is even better about a business idea built around solving a problem is that people are more willing to pay a premium to solve a pain than for an idea that provides pleasure.
The software company 37 Signals makes software solutions that solve their own problems and at the same time they are able to solve the pain for thousands of businesses. The founders of the company truly believe that this is one of the best methods to find a good business idea – to solve your own problems – and wrote a book about it called ReWork which I highly recommend – it is like a mini MBA course for business owners.
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Here are some questions you can use for brainstorming potential ideas to solve your own pain?

  • What frustrates or annoys you? And is there a product or service you can build to fix that?
  • Have you looked for a product or service that you didn’t find? And is it a product or service you could create?
  • What do you want less of? Have you successfully reduced something and can you now teach others to do the same?
  • What do you want more of? Can  you help yourself first and then help others to achieve more too?

Maybe you are a creative and then you might rather want to provide pleasure than solve a pain.

Russell Crowe in concert

In August 2012 I found out that Russell Crowe is not just a good actor but also a skilled musician. I arrived early and was able to sit in the front row and get this picture. With his creative skills he is providing pleasure to millions of people.

Business ideas built on pleasure
Providing pleasure is in most cases a creative process so get your creative juices flowing. We create something we love making and then we share it with the world in the hope that the world likes it and hopefully we are able to sell related products or services. We can minimize the risk by following the steps highlighted above e.g. finding out what people want and/or create a community of fans who like what you do. By having a platform it is much easier to test ideas and see what the world likes before we have invested too much in a new idea.
The photographer Trey Ratcliff travels the world and takes beautiful landscape photographs that he shares with the world every day on his blog for free. He is the most popular photographer on social media with millions of followers. He earns his living by teaching people through online and live courses and ebooks how to take those beautiful pictures and process them with High Dynamic Range (HDR). I am one of his devoted followers and it doesn’t matter what he offers on his platform, I will purchase most of his products.
Here are some questions you can use for brainstorming potential ideas to provide pleasure?

  • Are you an expert in something that people might want to learn or know about?
  • Are you an aspiring author, painter, photographer, musician etc. waiting to be discovered?
  • Do you like to entertain people? Can you create something that people enjoy?
  • Do you like to help people? Could you help people find joy, happiness and purpose in life?

There is of course an overlap between the pain and the pleasure category and many businesses thrive by providing both.
Now get pen and paper or open a mind map software and ask yourself a few questions.
Have you decided which of your passions to pursue? Did you or do you plan to do any of the exercises suggested above. Sign up for my free video series –  7 Step Formula to finding your true passion and the right business idea.

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