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Entrepreneurial Advice: Follow the Complaints of the Left

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

I work with inventors around the country, and one of the things that they all have in common is that they are problem solvers. Now admittedly, some problems that they solve are bigger than others – I was recently pitched an idea to help open those horrible vegetable bags at grocery stores – and also had a call with a guy in the final stages of FDA approval of his lung ablation device that will help solve cardio-pulmonary disease. However, there are also a group of people that I often talk to that wonder where the best ideas come from. While this is often a struggle to answer and frequently comes down to research, consistency, and a little luck – I think that I just came up with a new almost foolproof way to find the next big idea. Entrepreneurs just need to start watching what the left complains about – and look into fixing the problems.

For instance, the left often complains about the high price of healthcare. Several of the most successful entrepreneurs that I know have lowered the cost of healthcare for the patients by more than 50 percent. They didn’t do it through government assistance – or lobbying – they lowered the cost for their patients by innovating. One doctor cut out all of the middle-men in his practice and merely posted a cash price – this lowered his administrative burden and allowed patients to weigh options. As a result, patients from Canada started flying down to get surgery in days rather than months. It gave an opportunity for the uninsured to get care at an affordable and fair price. There was no magic – he saw something was wrong with the system and fixed it. He isn’t alone though; primary care physicians have been opting out of the business as usual model – and becoming “Direct” doctors. By removing the government, by removing insurers, by removing insurers these direct doctors have been able to dramatically lower the cost of healthcare for their patients – and in some instances even provide drugs at 10 percent of the cost that they would have received through their insurance.

As a side note both of these doctors are now being followed by thousands of others that are taking their lead – and while solving the price of healthcare issue – have also seemingly solved the problem of medical inflation – with both of them cutting costs more of the last decade than raising them.

There are other issues besides high healthcare prices that the left complains about though – and these areas are ripe for entrepreneurial solutions.

Looking at the National Consumer Law Center’s Twitter feed – they are constantly complaining. They complain about banks, student loans, energy costs, payday loans, and on and on. While I don’t agree with their take on some of these problems – there are people willing to pay them millions to address these so-called problems, which means at the very least an investor market and in all likelihood a client market exists as well. It is a little depressing that so much capital is being wasted on complaining and asking for help. But, it is also a beacon of ideas. Maybe their research could be compiled into a pitch deck to help outline the problem.

However, one of the problems is that if an entrepreneur’s solution doesn’t fit what they deem appropriate – then they will attack the new entrepreneur as well. Maybe an entrepreneur can identify a new way to insulate a house – if it works, but a group like NCLC thinks that this new solution costs too much, doesn’t last long enough, or takes too long to install, they are likely to poo-poo the idea and call for government intervention.

This is what groups on the left do. They don’t solve problems – they complain.

There are all sort of issues that entrepreneurs can solve. Not everyone is going to like all of the solutions – I still don’t understand why someone needs an easier way to hard boil an egg. However, we should champion and cheer the effort and encourage others to try instead of attacking the people that are trying. This goes for solutions like banks finding new ways to lend money or student loan providers for getting kids to school.

While most of the entrepreneurs and inventors that I work with don’t have a problem coming up with ideas, I think that this new method -while fraught with the possibility of being attacked by the same groups that claim to try and help people – is a great way to find the next big idea. We need to innovate the problems out of society not merely wave a whiny wand at them.

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