Business AS Problem-Solving

How Do You Serve Your Clients?

Have you exchanged your own hard-earned cash for services or products within the past week? Of course you have. Shopping and buying are near-daily activities for many of us, and we consume everything from yoga classes to smoothies, taxi rides to school supplies. Much of the spending we do is moderately mindless, but if we force ourselves to stop and think a moment we can typically divide our purchases into “needs” and “wants”: I need to buy spiral notebooks and number two pencils or my daughter will start the new school year empty-handed. I want a smoothie because it’s 487 degrees outside and I think my brain is slowly liquefying.

But as an entrepreneur, focusing on needs and wants won’t get you nearly as far with potential customers as focusing on problem-solving.

@@As an entrepreneur, focusing on needs and wants won’t get you nearly as far with potential customers as focusing on problem-solving.@@

Every successful business solves a problem for a specific type of person, and consumers are drawn to services they believe will make their lives easier or better. And when you conceptualize business as problem-solving it allows you re-frame the idea of selling your services. If you solve problems for people, telling them about your problem-solving prowess is a service. You’re not selling, you’re helping!

But before you can help, you need to identify the problem YOU solve as a service provider.

What’s YOUR Problem?

Naturally, you don’t want to lean on the idea of your customer or client as a hot mess of problems that need immediate service-based triage. But you do need to determine:

  1. Who your Ideal Client IS
  2. Which problems they most long to solve
  3. And how you can solve them in unique, efficient, or innovative ways

Need help finding your dream customer? Start right here. Not sure how to connect with them?I’ve got loads of tips for you! Wondering about those key problems that need solving? Let’s dig into that together. Ask yourself:

What do your Ideal Clients need and want? All humans want to be happier, healthier, wealthier, and wiser. But what else does your perfect-fit client want? Think of core desired feelings, wishes, and dreams. Muse on lifestyle choices, career goals, and favorite hang-outs.

What general problems plague them? (Fatigue, joint pain, lack of focus.) What specific problems plague them? (Too tired to socialize, too sore to play with their grandchildren, too distracted during important meetings.) Sussing out the general problems will get you in the ballpark, but try to tease out a few specific issues, too.

@@What problems are your clients facing that they’re motivated to solve?@@

That last one’s a doozy, but absolutely key. Because there’s a HUGE rift between problems people are willing to endlessly ignore and problems so important/far-reaching/onerous that they merit investment of resources.

Problems Worth Solving

The only problems your Ideal Clients are gonna throw money at are the ones they feel naturally driven to solve. What’s that you say? Won’t your uber-enlightened, extra-savvy Ideal Clients be keen to solve ALL of their problems, especially if you find creative ways to point them out? Heck no. Let’s rank ‘em:

Problems the customer doesn’t see: We’ve all got a few of these, and I’m not just talking about tartar on your teeth. (Totally invisible, yet takes FOREVER for the hygenist to scrape off. Ick!) Your Ideal Clients may be aware of a surface problem but fail to see the underlying issue. Alternatively, they may not see any problems at all. Nudging customers to solve these problems can backfire.

Here’s an example: Dove came out with a women’s deodorant a few years back that was meant to combat “unsightly underarms.” Most women, myself included, had never given a thought to how repellent our underarms were. This product purported to solve a problem I didn’t know I had. Did I buy it? Nope. Just kinda hated Dove for making me self-conscious about my pits.

Problems the customer is aware of, but ignoring: In these cases you’ll be battling an Ideal Client’s tendency toward inertia or inaction. This type of problem is often one that feels too large or risky to attempt resolving. People feel frozen and unable to change or address the situation so they stick their heads in the sand, avoid taking action, or launch into non-strategic action without intention.

An issue that a customer is actively ignoring is not one that you can help solve.

@@Until the customer is ready, nothing will change.@@

Problems the customer is aware of and is attempting to manage: Keyword: “Attempting.” In these cases, customers think they can take the same action over and over, but achieve different results. They’re unwilling to admit that the way they’ve been doing it isn’t working. Think physical therapy that fails to keep pain at bay. Or turning up the car radio to drown out a busted muffler.

In these cases, too, the customer needs to choose change.

Problems the customer is aware of and is actively seeking to solve: THESE are the issues you want to understand and solve on behalf of your clients. This type of problem has the customer motivated to invest resources (time, energy, money) into lasting solutions. And if you can be part of that solution, it can result in massive traction for your business.

Identifying these higher order problems for the specific clients you serve, and solving them with excellent service and quality products will help you carve out a powerful niche for yourself.