Creating an online business that is both fulfilling and financially successful comes down to one thing.
Helping People Solve Their Problems.
The key is to solve a very specific problem in a completely unique way.
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We are excellent problem solvers down to our pattern recognition skills.
We can spot the gaps, join the dots, and niche up to solve problems in ways others can’t see or do.
This is how we leverage our divergent thinking brains.
The concept works on three levels for multipotentialites.
- We get paid to help others solve their problems
- We create our ‘why’
- We focus our thinking by creating constraints
I created a niching-up framework as a strategic problem-solving concept that any multipotentialite can learn to do.
Defining the problem
This is critical.
The more you define the problem the more concise the solution.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” — Albert Einstein
For example, in 1955, two men discussed disrupting the children’s book market.
One of the men was William Spaulding. He was the director of Houghton Mifflin’s educational division.
The other was Theodore Geisel who later became known as Dr Seuss.
Theodore worked in advertising as a copywriter.
But he was also a poet and illustrator.
The American school system didn't have books that were captivating the children’s imagination.
All the available books were bland and boring for the kids.
The first graders were falling behind in their vocabulary as a result of this.
Spaulding challenged Geisel to “write a story that first-graders can’t put down” and asked that it be limited to 225 distinct words that were selected from a standard first-grader’s vocabulary list.
Geisel finished the book but failed the challenge.
He used 236 unique words.
“The Cat In The Hat” was published in 1957 and quickly sold a million copies.
Dr Seuss wasn't the best poet
He wasn't the best illustrator
He wasn't the best storyteller
But when he stacked those skills together and niched them up, he solved a very specific problem in a unique way.
Cat In The Hat has sold over 250 million copies to date.
He then repeated the challenge with Green Eggs and Ham which only used 50 unique words.
Let’s break down the problem-solving and niching up strategy…
Niching Up Strategy
Step 1) Define the problem:
Problem # 1: US first graders were falling behind with their vocabulary
Problem # 2: The available children’s books were boring and bland
Step 2) Create the Solution:
Invert. Produce the opposite of what is already on the market.
Create a book with eye-catching illustrations and characters that captivate the first grader’s imagination using only 225 words repeatedly to increase their vocabulary.
Step 3) Reverse engineer the skills and interests required to create the solution
Skills Niched Up. Dr Seuss used his poetry, illustration, copywriting, storytelling and creative skills.
Result: Cat in The Hat book
When we define and distil problems into minute detail it’s much easier to create successful innovative solutions.
Dr Seuss was a multipotentialite. There was no one else on the planet that could have solved the first grader’s problem in the same manner as he did.
It would have taken a team of specialists to niche down and create an in-cohesive and inferior product.
Whereas Dr Seuss niched up all his skills to create a completely unique solution to a very defined problem.
Constraints create concise solutions.
Building successful and fulfilling businesses is about solving problems in a unique way.
When I left the music industry I didn’t have a Scooby doo was I was going to do with the rest of my life.
I had been an artist manager which is the perfect business for multipotentialites as it was a multi-faceted strategic role.
Artists managers are the CEOs of artists’ careers across multiple disciplines.
As a result, I had many disparate skills without one that particularly stood out.
I was stuck.
I believed I had to pick one thing and stick with it. I thought I had to niche down.
This was my social programming.
I read books and listened to podcasts about how to get unstuck. I even spoke to a business coach.
They all said I should niche down and pick a lane.
This, of course, got me even more stuck.
For 8 months I got increasingly depressed.
I had so many potential options available to me I was overwhelmed.
Ironically I was paralysed by my own potential.
So I set out to get myself unstuck and solve what I now call the Divergent Thinking Paradox.
I read an article about inversion thinking which inspired me.
Conventional wisdom is for conventional people.
But I am unconventional.
Therefore I needed unconventional wisdom.
I needed to swim against the tide and create my own unconventional solutions to my unconventional problems.
Niching down is conventional wisdom. Therefore unconventional wisdom is Niching Up.
Thought experiment: When faced with a problem invert it to create the opposite and test it. The solution is often the 180-degree turn to the problem.
For example the opposite of being stuck is taking action.
I employed the 5 Why strategy to get to the root of my problem.
(n.b this is a great critical thinking strategy. Anyone with kids will recognise it)
Why was I stuck? I wasn’t taking action.
Why wasn’t I taking action? Because I wasn’t making decisions.
Why wasn’t I making decisions? Because I was scared
Why was I scared? I was scared of making the wrong decision.
Why? Because I was afraid of failing and wasting my time.
The reality: By not taking action I was already failing and wasting even more time by not taking action.
I was stuck.
My self-esteem is directly linked to my productivity.
So I was beating myself up.
I might as well take some action.
So I started experimenting.
It became very clear to me that taking any action was better for my mental health than remaining stuck and beating myself up.
So in Sept 2020, I started this newsletter. It had 10 different niches before I created my ‘why.”
I followed my curiosity and it eventually led me right here.
Looking back, all those different niches were me simply joining the dots to solve a very specific problem in a unique way.
We’re divergent thinkers. This means we are overthinkers.
We are idea-generating machines. If we don’t employ constraints to our thinking we are all over the shop.
If we are thinking about multiple projects simultaneously we often get overwhelmed and burnout.
The absolutely key to getting unstuck in solving a specific problem.
My brain still goes at 100MPH. It’s still constantly generating multiple ideas.
But it does so in a focused manner.
My why is to help multipotentialites maximise their potential.
I use this as a constraint on my thinking. When I have yet another idea I ask myself this simple question…
Does this idea get me closer or further away from helping multipotentialites maximise their potential?
If it’s the former I will develop the idea.
If it’s the latter I discount and remove the idea entirely.
I can’t tell you how liberating this has become for me.
And constraints can do the same for you…
Step 1) Think differently. Multipotentialites are unconventional people.
Stop using conventional and mainstream solutions to solve unconventional problems
Step 2) Find And Define A Problem To Solve
Step 3) Create a solution and reverse engineer it
Step 4) Stack your experiences, skills and interest together to create the solution.
Step 5) Create your why
There are two ways to find problems:
1) Use a problem you have already faced and conquered
2) Solve a problem you are currently facing
Coaching and Personal Branding
If you want to get unstuck you can book a 1:1 session here