Disturbed by the wasted money and ecological irresponsibility of buying toys, then throwing them away after a month? Want organic clothes for your baby? Can’t find the learning tools your special needs child needs? How about being able to sample high-end beauty products without cruising the counters of department stores? Or you “never have anything to wear” when an important occasion comes up? And, oh, those hot flashes!
All common complaints, all solved by “user entrepreneurs,” people who developed a product or service to something they wanted done. In fact, these entrepreneurs account for 62% of consumer product start-ups, according to The Kauffman Firm Survey: Who Are User Entrepreneurs? The same report found that 46.6 percent of innovative startups founded in the United States that survive to age five are founded by users.
That’s economic growth and jobs we’re talking about. And it often starts at home. About 60% of these firms start at home and are still run from home after five years.
These are folks like you, living their lives and running into roadblocks … which they turn into opportunities.
Take that special needs child. Julie Azuma wanted to help her autistic daughter reach her maximum potential but had a hard time finding the educational materials she needed. Starting with a website in 1995 when the internet was new, websites uncommon, and listservs the new big thing, Azuma started Different Roads to Learning, with 30 products and her personal credit card. Now it’s a multi-million dollar company and growing.
About those hot flashes: Susie Hadas accepted the inevitability of having them but not the discomfort or embarrassment they caused. After three years of design and development, she has launched Coldfront, a “way to weather hot flashes.” Leaving out those for whom hot flashes are not much of a bother and those for whom they are so much of a bother that pharmaceuticals are the only solution, Hadas figures she has a market of about 7 million women.
You might want to take note of another commonality: All of these are tech-enabled companies, that is, without the internet and online marketing, they wouldn’t exist. And because of online marketing, their start-ups costs are much less. Put that into your business plan.
Get the idea? Entrepreneurs are people with problems but they don’t just complain. They develop solutions, start businesses, and create jobs.
What’s your big complaint? What’s the solution? Answer those two questions and you may have the start of a new business.
Flickr image: By the Generic Asian
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