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Friday, January 01, 2010

Baby Boomer Entrepreneur, What Is Your Problem?

Roman Ross and I met for breakfast at a truck stop in Dallas. It was a great way for old friends to begin the new year. We like the buffet at the truck stop, having met there for breakfast before. It has good food and lots of variety, all at a reasonable price.

We were greeted by a very gracious server who seated us and brought menus. Roman asked her if there would be a buffet. The server told us the buffet wouldn't be open for about thirty minutes. Or, we could order anything we wanted from the menu. Roman told her we would wait for the buffet. The server brought us coffee. While we waited, we began to discuss the problems of the world, especially the new ones that have unfolded since our last visit.

New Year's Day is always a good time to discuss the topic of change. Change influences options. For many of us baby boomers, change seems to have reduced our options. We are older. For many of us, our problems are health related: vision, mobility, high blood pressure or diabetes.

Perhaps our problem is from our history. We might have issues lingering from earlier in life. We might not have the "right college major". We might have dropped out of college. We migh not have gone to college.

Perhaps our problem is from our present. We are getting a divorce. We don't have a job. Our industry that we have worked in all our life is dead, downsized, or outsourced. Our car isn't running.

The key to our future is recognizing and understanding problems. This is not about problems in the since of our personal sources of vexation and perplexity. We must understand the problems of people around us. We must think of problems in the sense of being a question raised for consideration or a solution.

All around us, people have problems that require solutions. People are eager to find solutions to their problems and will look upon you as a hero if you can show them effective solutions. They will pay you to help them find solutions when they don't know how to solve their problems.

Just as I was sharing my point about the word "problems" having two definitions, I noticed the servers were opening the buffet. Before I could suggest to Roman that we head over, I realized that people were getting up all over the restaurant. They were making their way to the buffet in mass.

Roman and I just sat and drank a bit more coffee. We watched the people serving themselves. The buffet became our case study on solving problems of people around us. We saw how the restaurant manager became the hero for 25 - 30 people by opening the providing what the people wanted.

Though it was not obvious when we first arrived, it looked like nearly everyone in the restaurant was waiting for the buffet. Presumaby, we were all hungry. We could have ordered from the menu pretty much anything that we would have taken from the buffet. But we all wanted the buffet.

The solution to our hunger problem was not just food, but food delivered in a special way. The buffet gave us a package with options under our control. We could have what we wanted, with any combination we wanted, and as much as we wanted. As one of the hamburger commercials promises, we could have it "OUR WAY" and we had control of the maximum price.

Having once been a restaurant owner, I enjoy referring to delivering your product or service in such a special way as your "special sauce". YOUR special sauce is what makes your solution different the taste of your customer. A hamburger can be a commodity like a light bulb if there is no way to tell one from another. A hamburger becomes special when your special sauce gives the hamburger a taste that makes your customer drive across get a hamburger that tastes exactly the way they want it to taste.

So the way we create opportunities or options in our future is not to study the problems that limit us. Success is in studying the problems limiting those around us. We want to offer solutions to their problems. Our problems must have our "special sauce"...the way that not only fills their hunger, but in a way exactly according to their taste. Our special sauce makes it impossible for anyone else to solve their problem our way. Your problem is to find solutions to things vexing and frustrating those around you. The solutions to the problems of others are your doorway to new opportunities.

So, baby boomer entrepreneur, look around and discover the problems of health, the problems of the past, and the problems of the present...the problems that limit and vex those around you. Be the leader in solving a problem or some aspect of the problem, so you can help those around you. We call that a niche. What problem of others will you adopt for the purpose of finding solutions? To whom will you be a hero? So, baby boomer entrepreneur, what is your problem?

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PS...Do you need help with your baby boomer business? Do you want to develop your special sauce? Join our free mailing list. Just fill on the box in the top right corner of this page. I will share with you some of the best business building tips available for free on the Internet. We can help you find your problem, the one that will solve the needs of your customers and will make you their hero.


Rita said...

Happy New Year. Best wishes to you and for your business in 2010. May you find many baby boomer entrepreneurs to help this year.

Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

MissDazey said...

I wanted to let you know I was here and read you very well written blog post. I'll be back.

BTW, what exactly is the business you have now? Consulting perhaps.

robert said...

Small business

1. Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.

2. The Center for Media Research has released a study by Vertical Response that shows just where many of these ‘Main Street’ players are going with their online dollars. The big winners: e-mail and social media. With only 3.8% of small business folks NOT planning on using e-mail marketing and with social media carrying the perception of being free (which they so rudely discover it is far from free) this should make some in the banner and search crowd a little wary…….

Mary Anne Nagy said...

As a baby boomer online entrepreneur, I've seen my role as that of a solutions provider to those of my generation who are looking for a way to handle their financial concerns. I see the online solution as one that will provide perhaps unexpected benefits down the road as our generation ages. As technology advances, I see our generation staying involved and connected in ways never before possible to an older population. By getting involved online now, Boomers can get a head start on remaining financially solvent and mentally and socially involved in the years to come.
I like your analogy of the "special sauce;" we each bring our own special flavor to the table while trying to help others.
Thank you for commenting on my post - it allowed me to find your blog and some of your other work which I find compelling.

Robert said...

Small business
3) According to the study, the most important tool for small businesses to succeed in 2010 is search engine marketing, while email marketing, public relations and social media cited as crucial for success.
23.8% of all small businesses reported that search engine marketing was the tool most needed for their business to succeed in 2010….