The easiest way to succeed as an entrepreneur is to take advantage of opportunities. When Ebola broke out and nearly halted international transactions with certain countries (Nigeria inclusive), many saw the disease as a problem. Only a few saw it as an opportunity. Because of the Ebola outbreak, Businessman Jon Schultz of Blue String Ventures made a whopping $200,000 in one day!
In 2008, he bought the domain Ebola.com for $13,500. When Ebola broke out in 2014 causing global panic and frenzy, he put the domain in the market and sold it to a Russian company for $200,000. (The Verge)
But Jon Schultz was not the only one to capitalize on an epidemic.
The first place winners of the 2014 AMPION Venture Bus West Africa were developers who used their skills to create solutions tackling healthcare issues; specifically Ebola. Ebola was such an epidemic that AMPION choose to consider favourably applicants who could present plausible solutions to eradicating the disease from a digital standpoint.
And this is just one epidemic. History has shown that once you can help people by offering a solution to a pressing problem, you will be successful almost instantly. More examples include Jumia (which became widely successful because of the ease of transaction and guaranteed delivery it offered), MTN in Nigeria (which became widely successful because it solved the headache of acquiring a Line from NITEL and made communication more seamless).
Now there are two ways to capitalise on a problem: Either you provide a solution (which the winners of AMPION did) or you invest in events/products that could lead to a solution (which Jon Schultz did). Of the two, the less risky and more viable is option A. I am a firm believer in helping people solve their problems, putting people first because when you do this, money will always find you.
Interested in cashing in on a problem? Follow the steps below:
- Identify the problem: This is the first step. If you do not see the problem, you will never know what solution to look for
- Determine the magnitude: A problem experienced by a handful of people is not as profitable as a problem crippling a nation. When Edison created the Lightbulb, it was a massive hit. Why? Because the alternative source of light energy at that time, the gas lamp, was not as cost effective, safe, energy conserving and bright as the light bulb.
- Figure a solution fast: When the Ebola epidemic broke out in Nigeria, a lot of smart shop owners stocked their shelves with Hand Santiziers. These shop owners made a killing before other shop owners saw what was going on and rushed to do the same.
- Analyze your solution carefully: Business oftentimes demands an investment of cash or human resources or both. Make sure that your solution will be worth investing time and money on. Determine how much this solution will cost you and how many people are likely to buy it. Hint: make sure your solution is a plausible one and that it really helps people. Always put people first when starting your business, not money. Because once you develop something that is insanely helpful, people will be more willing to pay for it. Also make sure that during your cost price analysis, your product/solution will be affordable. This will also help you get more customers.
- Deploy as soon as possible: you are not the only smart person on the planet. Chances are that someone else is brooding on that same idea. Normally the first to act and deploy gets the most reward. Example MTN is enjoying a large share of Nigeria Telecoms market not because of the quality of their service but because of the fact that they came in first. Same thing with Indomie and Coca Cola. So if you have an idea that will help people immensely to get rid of a terrible problem, work out your logistics, costs and market price, then deploy. Otherwise someone else will beat you to it and you will be forced to scramble for leftovers.
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