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In today’s fast-paced world, it seems that everyone has an innovative idea for an app or product. While novel concepts are indeed exciting, they often turn out to be a waste of time and resources. Instead of focusing on a great idea, the key is to find a pressing problem to solve.

The most successful products and services in our lives—the ones we use every day, revolutionize industries, and achieve billion-dollar valuations—all address real issues faced by users. Identifying the right problem is more challenging than it appears, but it is crucial to integrate sustainability principles for long-term success. Here are five different approaches to finding the perfect problem to solve while considering sustainability:

  1. Solve for the inconvenience.

Our lives are filled with various conveniences that make everyday tasks easier. However, there are still many areas where inconveniences persist. From hailing a taxi in the rain to waiting in line at a grocery store, there are countless opportunities to streamline daily experiences. By paying attention to these minor annoyances and finding sustainable solutions, you can create a product that addresses a genuine need.

  1. Solve for inefficiency.

Inefficiencies exist in every market, often leading to wasted time, money, and effort. By examining these inefficiencies and devising sustainable alternatives, you can create a product that conserves resources and improves user experiences. For instance, replacing paper receipts with digital ones reduces environmental waste while simplifying expense tracking.

  1. Solve for inevitability.

Technological advancements and consumer adoption of new technologies continually drive innovation. Emerging trends, such as wearable devices and the Internet of Things, provide opportunities for sustainable solutions. However, timing is critical—acting too soon or too late can lead to failure. To succeed, monitor industry trends and identify areas where sustainable innovation can make a significant impact.

  1. Imitate successes in other industries.

Innovation occurs at varying rates across industries. By observing successful practices in other sectors and adapting them to your target market, you can introduce groundbreaking and sustainable solutions. For example, applying renewable energy technologies from the automotive industry to consumer electronics can lead to eco-friendly, energy-efficient devices.

  1. Solve your problems.

Lastly, examine your own life for pressing issues that can be resolved through sustainable product development. If you face a challenge that a purpose-driven product can solve, chances are others experience the same problem. By addressing these personal concerns with sustainable solutions, you can create a product that resonates with a broad audience.

The key to developing a successful and sustainable product is identifying a problem worth solving. Once you find the right problem, maintain a laser-like focus on addressing it effectively while incorporating sustainability principles. Remember that people with great ideas often struggle to prioritize user needs over their entrepreneurial ambitions. Taking the time to find a genuine problem and addressing it with a sustainable solution will significantly improve your odds of success and contribute to a better future for all.

Ben Rennie

Co-Founder and Design Director at RENY®