Consider this question: “Describe the value of a gas station”.
I like to ask entrepreneurs this question as a thought experiment of how hard it is sometimes to isolate value from something we are used to experiencing every day.
A typical response is “a place where I gas my car”. That is incorrect, that is a definition of what you do when you visit a gas station.
Another is “a location that provides fuel to automobiles”. Again, incorrect, that is what a gas station does. That is not its value.
This is an important exercise that entrepreneurs should practice and then apply to their own startup they are working on. Isolating the core value of an idea or product allows disruptive ideas to flow more easily since we have now removed existing constraints.
Alternatively, if we focus on what a product does or how people use a product we miss identifying what is possible or, even more excitingly, identifying what is impossible to many but uniquely possible to a few.
The correct answer to the gas station question “Describe the value of a gas station” is “gas stations provide range extension to vehicles”.
They are at their simplest, vehicle range extenders.
If entrepreneurial gas station owners recognize they are actually in the vehicle range extension business and not the gas pumping business then embracing alternative methods for “extending range” become suddenly a natural extension to what they already do.
Perhaps one day in the near future you will pull into your local gas station and get to choose from Regular, Leaded, Unleaded or 240V!