Solve a problem, then start the business

“Don’t start a business. Find a problem, Solve a problem; the business comes second.” 

– Robert Herjavec, Shark Tank

Too many photographers are trying to start a photography business and fail because they are not solving any problems. If you are thinking of starting a photography business or have created one and are struggling, then I want to encourage you to stop and spend some time answering these questions.  

Establish the need for your solution

What is the basic need? You focus on the condition at the heart of the problem instead of jumping to a solution. Example: Businesses and individuals have a tough time telling their stories [elevator pitches]. It is difficult for many businesses to explain what they do without using pictures to help tell their story. What is the desired outcome? Again, here don’t focus on a solution but on solving the problem. Example: Improve the engagement/communication of businesses with clients. Who stands to benefit and why? But, first, you must understand why the industry hasn’t already addressed this. 

Justify the need

Does this fit with your strategy? Your solution should generate economic development and opportunities for local businesses. Therefore, it needed to involve something that people would buy because it is fulfilling a need. What are the benefits, and how will you quantify your success? Shooting stories for nonprofits will help them raise more funds to accomplish their goals. So you can find out how much money they raised before you helped them and afterward. Assisting organizations in raising funds will also help you later sell your success to other businesses. 

How will you be sure your solution is carried out? It would help if you took ownership of the success of the project. That means you need to be sure the client understands everything that needs to take place for your solution to be a success. I have gone so far as to do social media publishing and putting packages up on YouTube and Vimeo and even written blogs for clients. Executing the plan is a must, or it will look like a failure for the company and you.

Explore the problem

What has been done before by your clients or potential customers? You need to understand why other solutions have not worked well. 

What solutions have others with your skills offered? Essential to know how to differentiate what you are offering compared to other companies. 

What is stopping them from acting? Many times there are restraints that your clients are dealing with, making it very difficult for them to perform. Do they have the funds even to afford this solution? Sometimes there are outside factors that keep them from using your services. For example, could showing people’s faces put their lives in danger?

Write your problem statement and solution.

A clear description of the problem helps people grasp the issue. In addition, it would help if you addressed why other solutions were failures. Finally, you will need to outline the necessary steps/elements essential for the success of the solution you are proposing. Include this outline proposal.

The notion that you get your portfolio in front of people and they will hire you will have little success today. You are just a commodity, making competing in today’s marketplace challenging.

Knowing how to ask clients a question that makes them think is critical. When they realize they don’t have an answer is when you have an opportunity to provide one for them. It would help if you established the need for your services. Lacking services mean they are not getting those needs met somewhere else.

Remember, you need to be helping others by solving their problems, or your services are unnecessary.