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Business  13, Jan 2014

Entrepreneurship After 40: Part 2

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“If you don’t have a problem, you don’t have a business!” feels Jamey Merkel, Founder of Kluje.com, as he delves more into how entrepreneurship is not bound by age

Image for representation purpose only Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Welcome Back! Continuing with my first article, where we were talking about Entrepreneurship after 40 and explore some numbers and opinions around the subject, in this part, we are going to discuss, what I think is the most important part of Entrepreneurship: problem definition.  Most medical doctors would agree that the most critical part of treating a disease is the correct diagnosis; after all if you treat the wrong disease the medicine just won’t work! So how does this relate to being over 40 and an Entrepreneur?  Very simply we have seen (and hopefully solved) more problems. We will get into that a bit later. For now, lets explore!

So how do you solve your markets problem? Or even know if there is a problem in the first place.  Customer Development, as pioneered by Steve Blank, puts customer problem discovery at the top of the list for an entrepreneur. And it has to be done right as explained in this guest post by  Bob Dorf. To quote from the article: “Are you solving a problem that no one cares about?”  I sure hope not. The solution is the Customer Development mantra “Get out of the Building.” There are no answers inside your head. Only Questions.  You need to find out if enough people have the same problem. If so then you have a business!

In this view by Daniel Ek, founder of Spotify, he sees his entrepreneurship as primarily problem solving, not just a part of the process. I love his definition of an entrepreneur; “Someone that has an itch for a problem, and is annoyed enough by that problem to seek a solution for it.” And before any one says so, yes he is under 40. And he is right! (By the way he has experience solving problems since he was 14)

The truth is people are willing to  pay good money for you to help them solve their problem, but remember if it’s not that urgent, then it will be hard to convince people to use or buy your product. At kluje.com we are solving the problem of finding “Better Quality Contractors’. Our platform enables you to find peer-reviewed contractors easily and for free.  The homeowner side of our market (usually older by the way) has an immediate and important problem that we can solve. After all, if you have ever renovated your own home you know what an expensive , stressful and difficult task it is. I remember having a conversation with someone who was telling me that it is not a big problem and that it is easily solved. I asked him if he had ever owned and renovated a home, to which he replied “No”. To which I had to respond “Then you are not in my target market”. They just couldn’t see the problem because they had never experienced it.

Let’s face it, as entrepreneurs, we are looking for problems to solve. It’s in our blood. We live to find and solve problems; and sometimes we may even have a solution.  But not always, we need a problem. And as a 40-year-old, I have had plenty of them.  As you journey through life you see, not only your own problems, but ones your friends, family, and colleagues have too. We see how they solve them and we solve our own at the same time. Multiply that by a number of years and Voila, problem solver! Or at least you are aware of how many problems there actually are. Now don’t get me wrong, younger founders have lots of problems too. Again I am just saying the experience of seeing, diagnosing and solving problems makes you a capable Start Up founder.

What do you think? Feel free to comment or look me up and tell me how you solve your market’s problems. I hope you will join me next time for  Entrepreneurship after 40, part 3. Enjoy disrupting your market.

The views are of the author and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them.

The author is the co-founder and CEO of kluje.com a Platform as a Service company that aims to revolutionise the way homeowners find “Better Quality Contractors”.

e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested to share your point of view, please send us an email to writers[at]e27[dot]co

Jamey Merkel

Jamey Merkel

First time founder and CEO, Jamey Merkel, has faced the fear and taken the plunge to create his first company, kluje.com, an online platform matching homeowners with "Better Quality Contractors". A Homeowner himself, he is obsessed with maintaining the long term value of his home. You can find him blogging about home improvement over at kluje.com when he is not busy tackling the challenges of running a Start Up.

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