By Rieva Lesonsky
Is something bugging you? Whether it’s the lack of a good Chinese restaurant in your neighborhood or the difficulty of sorting through your Twitter feed, chances are something is frustrating you at any given moment. But did you know that these frustrations can be more than just the source of gray hairs and headaches—they can also be inspiration for a new business.
If there’s something you can’t find, do or buy—a problem you can’t solve—there’s a business waiting to be born. If you’re feeling frustrated by something, chances are that other people are, too.
How can you turn frustration into success? Start by thinking back to some recent times you were frustrated by something. If you can’t think of any, start writing things down next time you’re frustrated. No matter how small the annoyance seems (like your dry cleaner being closed after 7 p.m. when you don’t get home from the office till 8 or 9), take note of it. Ask your friends and family what they’re frustrated about, too—whether it’s something in their jobs, their personal lives or their families.
Ten years ago, you might have been frustrated by being on a business trip in a strange city, having some unexpected downtime in an unfamiliar area and trying to find a good place to eat or interesting sight to see. Today, you’d whip out your smartphone and use any of the many apps for this purpose. Clearly, lots of people are starting businesses based on frustration—in part because technology has made it easier than ever to do so. But you don’t have to be Mark Zuckerberg to come up with a business that helps handle customers’ frustrations. Here are some of the needs your frustration-based business can fill:
- Information. It’s easier than ever to find information online wherever you are, but what’s getting frustrating is sorting through it all. That creates lots of opportunity for businesses that help people weed through, filter or narrow down information so it’s actually useful.
- Services. People are short on time and willing to pay for other people to do everything from walking their dogs and teaching their kids how to throw a ball to picking up their drycleaning or cooking their meals.
- Products. If you’re looking for the perfect reusable lunch bag, combination baby stroller and dog carrier, or collapsible composting bin, there are probably other people who want it, too.
The key to making this type of business work is doing your homework to find out:
- Do other people feel the same frustration you do?
- Are they willing to pay to end it?
- Is the amount they’re willing to pay sufficient for you to provide the service/make the product and still make a profit?
- Can you reach enough of these people, whether in your local area or online, to make the business go?
Thorough market research will uncover the answer to these questions—and tell you whether you’ve got a promising business idea, or just an annoyance, on your hands.