Repairs or renovations

A common piece of business advice is to find someone with an urgent, painful, and ideally expensive, problem, and to solve it. You don’t want to be a solution looking for a problem.

This is generally good advice; the definition is also far more expansive and flexible than it would seem.

Repairs, for example, fit this definition very clearly; if my fridge stopped working, or if I got locked out of my house, I need urgent help and wouldn’t let up until the problem is solved.

Renovations don’t fit this definition as clearly; I don’t need a new floor, or a refinished basement, or a marble countertop—these additions certainly aren’t as painful as if I couldn’t get into my house. Most of the time, I could put the renovations—until one day, I can’t, the pain is burning, and I need relief. I make plans to launch the renovation process and to start making decisions.

There are lots of businesses that bear closer resemblance to renovations, and they’re not bad businesses either. You can run either business, and both clearly involve pains. 

But you can’t run a renovation business expecting customers to behave like they’re looking for a repair, or vice versa.

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