Businesses Solve Problems, That's It!


You don't sell drills, you sell holes.

I’ve had the privilege of working for and interacting with everything from billion dollar companies to start-ups. What’s always shocked me is how complex we make the reasoning behind why businesses exist. Yes, everyone from two guys in a garage to multi-national corporations face a myriad of challenges in running their operation. Getting and keeping customers, creating teams that move toward a common goal, delivering on what you promise and eeking out a living is surprisingly complex work.

However, I’ve observed that we often forget the foundation: why a business exists in the first place.

Your business solves a problem for a customer and that makes their life better. That’s it.

There’s a hackneyed phrase “You don’t sell drills, you sell holes.” There’s a lot of truth to that. Your business provides a solution to someone’s problem while delighting them in the process.

Why does it need to be more complicated than that?

Too many businesses limp along because they produce products and services that don’t provide value (i.e. solve a problem) for their intended customer. Or have many features when only a couple aspects of their product or service actually provide a source of value to the customer.

This happens at multi-billion dollar companies and start-ups more than you’d imagine. Leaders think they need to have more features than last year just because their competitors have it. They assume things need to be faster, bigger and louder than the year before.

Now you’re saying “Okay that’s great Aaron. How the hell do I know what provides value to my customer and what doesn’t?”

Well, the short answer is this: ask them. Call 5 people who are current and/or potential customers and state the problem you think you solve for them and ask if that’s true (contact me if you do, I’d love to hear the results).

The longer answer to that question will be tackled in this blog throughout the next few months. How to discover if your business solves a real problem for a customer by helping you answer -

1. What is my business good at?
2. What is the cost to serve my customers?
3. How do I test if I solve a problem?
4. How do I get to them?

I always look forward to hearing from you. Comment in the box below on what you’re hoping to dig deeper into through this blog.

- Aaron