Hi there, Entrepreneur!
I'm just like you.
I woke up one day with a deep desire to create, to build something, but I was left clueless as to where to start.
I saw many aspiring entrepreneurs falling into the same pit, reaching for 'solution ideas' without understanding the real problem at hand.
I encounter a lot of questions in the AdSociety community like: “Where to start to start my own business?,” “How to start to become a media buyer?”
We all have been there, right?
Last week, I came across this incredible course on Coursera about Social Impact.
I took this course because I want to dig deeper and know more about Social Entrepreneurship, and given that I’m finally done with college (gradwaiting, yohoo!), I have more time in learning new things (thus reviving this newsletter with a new content type, hope you enjoy this).
It opened my eyes to the concept of 'Design Thinking', an approach that breathes life into entrepreneurship.
I heard this concept a lot of times already, but it just made sense to me recently.
Design Thinking is all about digging deep, understanding problems thoroughly before jumping to solutions.
It’s about empathizing, innovating, and iterating.
I know, I know. You're probably thinking, "I’ve got plenty of experience. I can think of solutions right off the bat" or "I'd rather not spend ages researching the problem. I should get to solving it right away!"
Trust me, I've had these thoughts too.
But let me tell you, rushing into solutions without truly understanding the problem is like sailing a boat without knowing where to go.
You’ll just end up adrift/lost!
The real benefit here, friends, is not just about finding a solution.
It’s about creating VALUE.
It's about making a positive, sustainable impact on society.
The journey of design thinking paves the way for meaningful, profound change - the kind we aspire to create as entrepreneurs.
From the lessons I learned, I made this: the IDEAL framework.
It stands for Identify, Define, Envision, Actualize, and Learn.
It's a structured method to channel our creativity into problem-solving.
And you know what the best part is?
I’ve seen this method work wonders in all kinds of scenarios!
Whether you're trying to build your personal brand, start an eCommerce business, or launch a social enterprise, the IDEAL framework provides a reliable roadmap.
I, for instance, applied the IDEAL method to build my own social enterprise — Bakas.
I began with identifying the issues I deeply cared about (mental health awareness), defined the core problem (stigma in the Philippines), ideated multiple solutions (create online community, sell statement shirts, design tote bags), prototyped them, and eventually learned from the feedback we got.
Here’s another example if you want to build a new eCommerce brand:
Identify (Empathize): Start by understanding who your target customers are and what they need. If you're selling handmade jewelry, for instance, you need to understand what styles your potential customers prefer, how much they're willing to pay, and how they usually discover and purchase such products. Surveys, interviews, or market research can be valuable tools in this stage.
Define: Using the insights from your research, define the problem you're trying to solve. Maybe customers are looking for unique, handcrafted jewelry but find the options in the market too generic. Or perhaps they want a convenient and reliable online platform to explore and buy these products.
Envision (Ideate): Generate ideas to address the problems and meet the needs you've identified. This could involve brainstorming ways to source unique designs, considering different website layouts to enhance the shopping experience, or developing marketing strategies to reach your target customers.
Actualize (Prototype): Choose some of your best ideas and bring them to life. This could mean creating a few jewelry pieces and taking professional photos of them, designing a mockup of your website, or drafting some promotional posts for social media.
Learn (Test): Now, test your prototypes. You might show your product photos to potential customers to see if they find them appealing, or ask friends to navigate your website mockup to ensure it's user-friendly. Gather feedback and use it to improve your product, website, and marketing strategies.
Remember, you can go through these steps several times, refining your approach each time based on what you learn.
Once you're confident with your eCommerce business plan and have tested it thoroughly, you're ready to launch your online store.
But don't stop there – keep using design thinking as your business grows to continue meeting your customers' evolving needs.
Each step was a journey of discovery, refinement, and growth!
But don't let this process intimidate you!
The IDEAL framework is not a race; it’s a marathon.
You may find the Identify phase, which requires understanding the user's needs, a bit daunting at first.
But here's a tip: start with your own problems.
Since you are familiar with these issues, you won't need extensive research, saving you time and effort.
The solutions you create will be genuine, relatable, and more impactful.
After all, many great innovations have been born out of personal experiences and frustrations.
So, aspiring changemakers (entrepreneurs), let's not wait for the 'perfect start'.
Let’s embrace the beauty of failing, learning, and iterating.
Let's use Design Thinking and the IDEAL framework to drive our entrepreneurial journey.
Let's create a better world, one solution at a time.
Stay inspired and keep innovating.
See you again next week!
- John Cornwill
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