When you solve a problem, you can create a company, start a movement, and change the world. Until then, what you're up to may just be a nice hobby or a pleasant distraction.
Successful companies and organizations grow because they're meeting a need by solving a problem. Of course, the notion of "problem" can be a bit vague. After all, it wasn't a "problem" that we couldn't carry around 1,000 songs in our pocket, but now that we have iPods, we think it was a travesty when we could only tote with us all the music a cassette and Walkman could hold.
As we raise capital to expand Batch, we have been talking a lot about the problems we solve for our customers, be they individuals (B-to-C) or companies (B-to-B). But all along, we've wanted to solve other problems, too.
That's why we hired three teenagers recently. The fact that jobs for teens are hard to come by in general, coupled with the fact that some teens have an even tougher time, led our friends at Oasis Center to begin managing their share of a federal program to help young people find work, especially if it's a first job.
We needed some extra help in the warehouse and as it turns out, by finding help with our problem, we solved another one as well. (You can read all about what our young people at Batch do here.) Better yet, wait until September until we share more about how we're solving the problem of hunger in America.
We like to think of companies, programs, groups, churches, and organizations in terms of their name, their bottom line, or their marketing savvy. But until any of these groups solve a problem, they're not doing much. And they may not be around for long. Sometimes, as referenced above, the problems, will be nicely trumped up, but any successful entity is ultimately in the problem solving business.
This week, take stock of your work, your business, your goals, and your mission. Talk about it all in the context of a problem you're solving. Because once people know you can solve their problem, well, they'll line up to pay for that.