Every semester, I invite entrepreneurs into my classroom at Vanderbilt University to share their stories with my students, partner with student teams to address business challenges, and receive recommendations about how to improve their businesses, drive growth, and better position themselves in the marketplace.

Using these experiences as a backdrop, coupled with my own business endeavors, I offer four reasons that you must start a business today.

1: You know of a problem that should be solved

One year, Dr. Christian Hahn served as my students’ client. Dr. Hahn is a highly successful and sought after cosmetic dentist. His professional pedigree is phenomenal and he ran a successful dental practice.

Despite his career path and his growing practice, Dr. Hahn’s desire to work with Vandy students had nothing to do with dentistry. It had everything to do with a problem that needed to be solved.

An avid inventor and father of three, Dr. Hahn noticed that his children, as well as nearly every child he met, had difficulty putting on swimming goggles. Inevitably, hair would get stuck, water would leak into eyes, and parents and children would become frustrated.

Most parents had simply resigned themselves to the fact that the goggle problem was part of the swimming experience. Not Dr. Hahn – he designed a new pair of goggles that children could easily put on themselves. He named his product Frogglez and offered it to the world.

Questions for you to consider:

  • What problems do you see that need to be solved?
  • What do you hear people complaining about or compensating for with temporary fixes?
  • Is there something that annoys you about how things currently function (or fail to function)?

2: You are uniquely positioned to solve the problem

Over the last several months, my students have been working with Jen Auerbach and Adriel Danae. These ladies are the founders of the Clary Collection.

As two new mothers, Clary Collection’s co-founders were struggling to find the best way to care for their children and themselves.

Here’s how they explain the challenge and their willingness to close the gap, “Our transition into motherhood sparked many changes in us, one of which was a tuning in to our bodies as they started to function as givers of life and home to our children. This brought new awareness to our need for clean food, products and environments…Recognizing that the skin is the body’s largest organ and that it absorbs a great deal of environmental toxins, we sought out truly clean moisturizers and balms, as they were the most essential items in our skincare routines. However, we continually came up short….With curiosity and determination, we began to seek alternatives that brought us back to a time when our ancestors carried practical knowledge and crafted useful connections between what they cultivated and gathered from the earth and how they healed. We read books and began to ask questions and share ideas with friends, neighbors, midwives, grandmothers and teachers. And we started experimenting.”

Their efforts led to the creation of the Clary Collection. The collection offers a balm, bath-and-body oil, nipple balm, and a stretch-mark oil. These items, made for moms – by moms, are beautiful packaged in 1930s style containers.

Clary’s founders were uniquely positioned to solve the ailments of new mothers, because they were dealing with the challenges themselves and were passionate about making a difference.

Questions for you to consider:

  • What problems are you uniquely positioned to solve?
  • What are you willing to devote yourself to? What are you passionate about?
  • If you could spend the next 10 years fixing an issue, what would it be?
  • What is your conscience telling you?

3: People will value the solution you provide

When COVID-19 hit the United States, I had several speaking engagements cancel overnight. It was a bit of a shock. I had been traveling the globe and working with leaders for over 17 years. Suddenly, I was working solely from home and there were zero plane flights on my schedule.

It was quiet for a few days as my clients were sifting through the situation and trying to figure out what to do next.

Then, my phone started to ring, messages streamed into my inbox, and my LinkedIn profile became very active. As I read through the barrage of inquiries, it was clear that, although much had changed, the fundamental need to develop leaders, build teams, and deliver results remained. In fact, in the face of growing uncertainty, people wanted and valued what I offered like never before.So we set-up a studio in my home and began building a leadership workshop designed to challenge leaders to improve their performance in 35 days. We called the it The Five Week Leadership Challenge. To date, nearly one thousand leaders around the world have taken the challenge. They’ve invested 15 minutes in themselves each day to watch a short video, read a leadership lesson, and complete a daily activity.

I know that people value the content, because they tell me. My team and I hear daily from people who are taking the challenge. They share stories of how they’ve applied the concepts in both their work and personal lives. I recently signed a deal with Harper Collins for The 5 Week Leadership Challenge book that will release in August 2021.

All of this happened, because we put to use the first two ideas in this article, added this third concept, and leveraged the fourth. (Keep reading to see what I mean.)

Questions for you to consider:

  • What product or service can you offer that people will truly value?
  • What is stopping you from finding out if it will work?

4: The internet provides the ability to bring everything together

We live in a truly amazing time. Unlike those who walked the planet before us, we have the ability to source products from halfway around the world, advertise them on every continent, and ship them anywhere – all without leaving our home.

Companies like Shopify, Amazon, Google, Etsy, Ebay, and a wide-range of others are working together to help you bring what you have to offer to the world. Don’t let their efforts go underused.

Questions for you to consider:

  • What do you know about eCommerce and how you can bring your products or services to the world?
  • Are you willing to invest two hours this evening or over the next weekend to learn about one or two of the existing platforms?

Final thought…

If you have a desire to beat the odds or perhaps you simply want to own something that you create yourself, I encourage you to identify a problem and work to solve it. You may be surprised at the lessons you learn along the way!

Make it a great day!

-Patrick

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