I’ve spent the past few weeks working on my business by doing a lot of research.
The methodology I’ve been following involves reading through forums and noting down problems. I’ve found my notes to be super interesting and at the same time frustrating.
On the one hand taking notes like this teaches me a whole lot about an audience.
Before doing this research I had no idea that early stage SaaS founders focus on sales instead of marketing. I also didn’t know that people struggle so much with recurring payments (there is a whole industry of companies who offer services to this problem).
My point is that I DO learn a whole lot by doing this kind of research.
I’m getting stuck though.
Take the recurring payments case as an example. I don’t really care about recurring payments. It sounds like a real chore to me. I have no strong beliefs or world-views around recurring payments. Basically I find the problem un-interesting.
I have learned to take my gut reaction with a grain of salt. I think the best pitches are built around dreams, not pain and behind every pain is a hidden dream. Maybe I’d feel motivated if I saw the recurring payments problem as part of the solution to making it possible for developers to go into business for themselves or something. I don’t know.
In this case I can’t think of an inspiring believable dream. Fixing recurring payments just sounds like a recipe for helping companies siphon more money out of people’s bank accounts.
I think what I’m missing is a way to focus my research. I’d like to be able to pick a broad problem that I feel should be fixed and then find the smaller problems within.
An ingredient I think is important is my own personal world view… my passion. I think I am beginning to understand what this means. ‘World-view’ refers to a belief I hold strongly that I believe in but which is not inherently correct (and which other people disagree with). So cases where I say “I believe…”…
I believe it’s good for people to be creators not just consumers.
Also… I believe that it’s valuable for a person to figure things out for themselves… which can be difficult in a world with tools like google (which can instantly answer most questions).
I think a world-view really helps with dream-building and business positioning.
What if our computers were designed to empower us to create instead of consume?
What if our tools encouraged us to look for our own solutions to problems instead of giving us instant answers?
These dreams resonate with me and I feel like they would resonate with other people.
Also, they are vague… which is a good thing. The dream is big and that means there is plenty of room to learn about the detailed problems that must be solved to make the dream come to pass. All those detailed problems will have their own associated dreams and there will probably be lots of opportunities to create products using these little problems.
So what am I talking about in practice?
- Picking an audience.
- Picking a high-level problem that I think the audience has and that I have opinions about.
- Getting clear about my worldview through brainstorming.
- Coming up with keywords that will help me search for the high-level problem.
- Figuring out what else people talk about when they talk about the problem.
- Noting down sub-problems and associated keywords.
- Noting any other world-views that the audience has.
- Figuring out which world-views I agree and disagree with.
- Clarifying my world views and writing them down.
- Building dreams from my world views and letting those dreams be the guiding stars for my future projects.
Step 2 may be hard. I might need to do some rough research to get familiar with the audience’s big problems. I have some ideas about how to do that but I am not sure if they’ll work yet.
That’s it. Simple really (*sarcasm*). Just need to get clear on my point of view and vision in regards to a problem I find interesting.