There are two factors that will always, without question, separate the successful entrepreneurs from those who struggle. The first is that successful entrepreneurs understand the difference between features and solutions. The second is that they tend to ignore features and take action based on solutions.
A feature is a prominent part or characteristic of something. A solution is an answer to a problem. In some cases it is a prominent part or characteristic of something that is the answer to a problem. Put simply, in some cases a feature will provide you a solution.
The most important aspect of a feature providing a solution is that the solution must be to an existing problem. When a person makes a purchase or takes an action based on a feature that doesn’t solve a pre-existing problem for them, they are wasting resources because they are solving problems that do not exist.
I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I am the most organized person I know. When I was a young entrepreneur just starting out, I was the most organized business owner I knew. There were two main reasons for this. The first was that I spent all of my time organizing everything. The second was that because I spent all of my time organizing, and no time gathering clients, I never actually did any real work that would mess up my perfectly organized system. My problem was not disorganization. My problem was a lack of clients. Being organized was a feature and a waste of my effort at that point. I should have invested my energy into solving the problem of not having any clients. After that, once I was generating an income, I could solve the problem of disorganization if and when it came up.
Successful people have a specific goal and solve problems on their way toward achieving that goal. Anything that doesn’t move them toward their specific goal is a waste of time and money.
Most people suffer from consumerism. The “new features” looked cool on TV so now they feel compelled to spend money. They are spending money to solve problems that they do not have. Money is a limited resource and the more they spend solving problems they don’t have, the less they have to spend on solving problems they do have.
Some people suffer from analysis paralysis. This is the difference between overloading yourself with information and actually getting things done. One of the greatest tools for research and the greatest cause of paralysis in our time is the internet. You can find information quickly and easily. The problem is that there is so much information that some people never take action as they attempt to read and digest everything. Successful people research just enough to start taking action and then solve problems as they come up. They know that you can only win the game by actually playing the game (taking action). They know that the game is not won by knowing every feature but by knowing how to find any solution.
Managers know that employees are suckers for features. An employee will ask for a raise (a solution for not having enough money) and what will the manger do? The manager will give them a new title. The employee will walk into the office a “supervisor” and walk out a “regional supervisor” with the same pay, a slightly increased workload, and a promise that his next “promotion” will include a pay increase also. The employee got played. And what happens if the employee figures the title game out? Then he gets a parking space with his name on it. It’s just another feature for the employee that doesn’t solve his problem of needing more money. How much did this parking space cost the company? Nothing. For the company it’s a solution because it solves the company’s problem of shutting up the employee without any cost.
Have you ever seen an advertisement from Lamborghini talking about improved miles per gallon? Nope, and you never will. The people who buy Lamborghinis have money by the truckloads and don’t have a problem paying for gas no matter what the cost. Fuel efficiency for the rich is a feature. Successful people tend to ignore features.
Now if you go to the office of anyone who actually owns a Lamborghini, you will notice that all of their decisions are solution based. If you are trying to sell something to the owner of that company, sell solutions, not features. Offer to solve an existing problem for the company at a reasonable price and you will have a sale. Present him with the idea of a hot tub to be installed in the lunch room because “it would be so cool” and expect the idea to be rejected.
What this all comes down to is ignoring some of the comforts (features) and using your resources to solve problems that keep you from your goals. Entrepreneurship is about living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.
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