Entrepreneurship is about identifying and solving problems using new ideas. The greater the scale or impact to which this is achieved, the more successful people and organizations can be. Let’s talk about three important elements you need to achieve success as an entrepreneur. You need to have
- an intuition for identifying problems,
- the character for seeking solutions to the problems, and
- the acumen for monetizing the solutions.
Of course, many other variables come into play such as the team involved or marketing, but these are the core components. Let’s take a quick look at these core activities.
1. Identify the Problem
You need to identify a real problem faced by people at a location you can reach. You cannot assume, the issue must be real. Now, saying this does not mean it must be a functional problem, some problems are psychological or luxury-seeking.
For instance, the lack of potable water in an African community is a functional, life-threatening problem. Searching for bottled water in the UK is also a problem, not one of thirst or survival, but of preference or choice. But a problem is a problem, it just depends on whom you are addressing and where you are, that is, the context.
2. Develop a Problem-Solving Idea
Secondly, you should seek to develop a problem-solving idea. Consider the context, that is, the people, economy, or timing, what type of solution would eliminate or at least begin to address the problem in question?
With Project Loon, Google tried to address the problem of internet blackout or poor coverage in the remotest parts of developing countries. The idea was to deploy wi-fi using balloons floating over the areas with poor or service blackouts. On the other hand, Elon Musk’s Starlink is on a mission to solve the same problem using satellite technology.
3. Convert the Idea into a Source of Income
Finally, you have to find a way to convert that idea to a form in which people can pay you money for it. Again, the factor of context must be considered.
For instance, someone may identify the problem of poor infant nutrition in her community. Her idea may be to offer nutritious food to families to solve this problem. Now, should families be able to buy the food on-demand or have it delivered monthly? Should it be a large food basket able to sustain the child for the month or should it be chunked up into more affordable units (in the short term)?
The answers to these and more questions would depend on knowing the attributes of the target customers and tailoring the solution to fit their capacity as it meets their needs.
Lifebank founder Temie Giwa-Tubosun identified the problem of access to safe blood for women in cases related to pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria and Africa. She came to this reality after her own “complicated and harrowing” experience during childbirth despite the fact that she had her child in the US.
The question was: how did women in less fortunate situations in Africa fare during such experiences? With the rate of maternal deaths in Nigeria at nearly 20% of the global count, she knew she had identified a real problem she could help solve by providing briding the logistics gap.
Having identified the problem, she founded Lifebank to provide the required logistics to source for and deliver the much-needed blood to hospitals on-demand 24/7. The organization partners with blood banks across Nigeria and Kenya with other countries on the horizon.
Patients and doctors place orders for whole blood, other blood products, and oxygen via their website, mobile app, or telephone, Lifebank contacts the nearest blood bank closest to the patient, and delivery is made. This could be by car, motorcycle, boat, or a drop-in delivery by drone if that is what the occasion demands.
Lifebank continues to innovate by launching new solutions such as the
- SmartBag, explained as “a blockchain-powered product that helps patients and health providers discover the safety records of blood and blood products”,
- Blood and Oxygen Access Trust (BOAT) for creating universal access to healthcare for low-income patients,
- Home Kit for COVID-19 tests, and
- DonorX, an online portal that allows blood donors to book donation appointments at the closest blood banks.
In 2019, Lifebank won the $250,000 first prize of the Africa Netpreneur Award Initiative by the Jack Ma Foundation.
It’s Your Turn
Look around and you will find that these three key building blocks are the pillars of successful businesses around you, regardless of the industry. Do these thoughts stir up any ideas? Do feel free to comment, like, and share this post.