Choosing Your Product: Identify A Need

So you’ve decided to step out of the 9-5 world and take your first step on your path to PIE. You’re motivated. You’re focused. You feel ready for anything. You’re Muhammad Ali, and the world is Sonny Liston. You have a plan. You have a goal. You have absolutely no idea what you’re going to sell. You have a problem.

Fortunately, it’s not really that hard of a problem to solve. You see, some of the most prevalent products today were born from a very simple tactic used by businesses the world over to determine what they’re going to bring to market. It can be attributed to a very, very old quote, the original source of which has been lost to time, though it’s commonly believed to have first been spoken by Greek philosopher Plato: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This particular quote can be interpreted in a number of ways, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll be taking it as, “The need for something will inspire people to create it.” In this case people meaning you, faithful readers. Allow me to elaborate.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with iTunes, Apple’s online digital music service. While far from the first service of its kind, iTunes filled a gap that sorely needed filling. There was no big, centralized, one stop digital music store where you could find almost any album for a reasonable price. iTunes filled that gap. In addition, a sizable chunk of iTunes’ catalog (such as the Beatles discography) simply wasn’t available for download, leading people to have to buy a physical CD, and then rip it to their computers themselves. Anyone who went through the trouble of converting years of CD purchases to digital knows how much of a pain can be. iTunes made it possible to buy their albums for less than a dollar a song. There was a need, and Apple stepped in and filled it.

If that’s not enough, how about an example that every single one of you has in your home right now. You won’t even have to look hard to find one. It’s probably within reaching distance right this very second. You see, once upon a time, if people wanted to communicate with someone else who happened to be farther away than walking distance, they had to mail letters. Somebody had to physically carry a piece of paper from point A to point B. As we all know, the mail isn’t particularly fast or reliable (and was far worse once upon a time). In fact it’s such a terrible system that during the American Civil War, there were pockets of troops that didn’t find out the war was over until months later. Obviously, this is not an ideal method of communication. Fortunately a better one was on its way, and went on to become one of the most important inventions in human history: and a device I’ve spoken about before, the telephone. There was a need for instantaneous voice communication, and that need was filled.

Two examples, almost a century and a half apart, but the core idea remains the same: there was a need, so somebody stepped up and filled it, and both went on to become tremendously successful. iTunes is a billion dollar feather in Apple’s cap, and the most widely used digital music service today. And the telephone, well….do I really need to explain that one? How many do you have in your house right now? Point made.

So to you my friends, who have all the focus, motivation, and drive necessary to succeed, but are lacking a product to use as a platform to launch yourself to riches, I offer this advice. Look to the world around you. Keep your ears open and your eyes peeled. Somewhere out there is a need for a product just begging to be filled, an invention just begging to be made. People may not even know they need it until you make it. Identify one of these needs and jump on it, and you may just find you’ve discovered your own proverbial license to print money.