Here are the 3 simple steps to find valuable business ideas through community research

2021.09.21 16:15 Perspectrums Here are the 3 simple steps to find valuable business ideas through community research

Hey there!
After failing with some business ideas/projects, I'm currently trying out something new: community-based businesses. What I mean with this is building business based on a proven demand that I identify in online-communities.
Below, I'm sharing a process I developed in order to build community-based products. As a practice, I go through this process every week to get better at identifying demand, i.e. interesting problems to solve. To hold myself accountable, I share the outcome of this practice in my newsletter.
I divide this post in two parts: Find Problems Worth Solving (this post) and Understanding Community Culture (upcoming post). To illustrate things, I use an example of one of the communities I practiced on last: Music Composers.
I know this process isn't the only one right way. I'm sharing it because I think it might be interesting/helpful for some of you. Also, I'd love to get some feedback on this process!
Part 1: Find Problems Worth Solving
A) Find relevant communities
First, I'm looking for relevant communities in the space I'm interested in. I often use Reddit search, Google search, Facebook-Group search, and The Hive Index. Ideal communities have high levels of engagement (without too much of self-promotion), valuable content, >40k members (depending on platform though, e.g. some small Slack groups can be super valuable as well), and a search function. I encounter communities that form around different subjects — they come in all forms and sizes. The ones I'm personally most interested in are:

This categorization can help you better understand norms, practices, and motivations within communities. However, every community is different and has its specificities, so I try not to get too hung up on categorization. I try to stay open and receptive in order to get to the core of a community and its members.
It's also super important to take into consideration the platform the community is built on. Platforms tend to shape the types of communities that are built upon them. During the research I conduct, Reddit communities have proven to be really authentic. I usually use GummySearch to identify relevant Reddit communities and track conversations.
B) Discover Problems
According to our understanding, a problem can be defined as everything that gets in the way of someone achieving their goals.
There is a simple trick to find posts and comments about problems in communities fast. I use the search bar (if existent) and type in phrases like "need help", "struggling with", "is there a tool", "I am looking for", etc. This will lead you to the places where people talk about their problems.
Note: Not every problem is explicitly described as such. For example: in my research on composers, I noticed that almost none of the composers explicitly stated that they seek respect or admiration for their work. However, their often enthusiastic reactions to positive feedback (along with emphazising how motivating this feedback was for them to keep on composing and improving) suggests that a lack of affirmation and feedback can get in the way of achieving their goals.
Track my findings: I try to be systematic and track important posts, as well as some meta data (e.g. level of engagement, time, place, etc.). Having a table makes things easier (if you want a concrete example, check out the tables attached to each edition of my newsletter).
Worthy problems: I currently try to assess problems worth solving on these metrics: frequency (how often do people talk about this? How often does the problem occur?), severity (how painful is this problem to them?), willingness to pay (do people already pay for solutions to this problem? If not, how confident am I that they would pay?), feasibility (can I actually build a solution for this ? If not, how confident am I that I can find someone that complements me with the missing skills?), and my own interest (how interesting would it be for me to work on this problem? And with these people?).
I also love Sahil's tweet on how to make money: help people make money, save money, or save time. I always ask myself if a solution to this problem would help them with one or more of these.
Tip: I try not to just track the problems I think are worthy to solve, but everything that members of this community share about their life. This helps to get a broader understanding of the community and its members (I will discuss this in part 2).
C) Brainstorm Solutions
I usually start brainstorming solutions after I finished researching the most relevant communities and noted the problems I discovered. In case I came up with solutions during the research phase, I simply note them down and bring them up in my brainstorming sessions. The problems I brainstorm solutions for are those that best fit my "worthiness" framework above.
Once I chose a few problems (usually 3-5), I brainstorm solutions based on some frameworks such as:
After the brainstorm, I usually have a set of interesting problems/solutions that I could start working on.
Hope this post was useful! Let me know what you think in the comments. Also, consider subscribing to my newsletter where I'm sharing interesting problems/solutions based on the research method described in this post.
Stay tuned for part 2, which I will share in the upcoming days :-)
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