Entrepreneurs (among others) excel because they are successfully able to find a need that others have and fill it, problem solve it, and provide solutions. I’ve not had this skill, but it is one I’m developing. Once you start seeing where needs exist (and it takes a conscious effort to think outside of your own needs), it becomes easier to see it frequently. The key, then, is to figure out a way to address the need in a way that benefits others rather than takes advantage of them.
Nowhere was this more clearly displayed than at the Louvre in Paris this summer. Paris in the summertime is crowded, and the museums especially so as the city was experiencing a heat wave. Thank heavens we had a hotel room with air-conditioning. It was our first room in 2 weeks to have it. Yet, wandering around the city during the day was hot, crowded, and tiring. We decided a few museums might be in order.
We picked up the Paris Museum Pass at Les Invalides – Napoleon’s tomb, and France’s military museum. In order to pick up the pass, even if you order it ahead of time, you have to go to a museum and stand in line. On a tip from the Rick Steve’s message board, I learned that not only was Les Invalides on the list of museums to see, and not only did it have an incredible assortment of World War I and World War II artifacts, but that the line would be short. Given that it was only a few blocks away from our hotel in the 7th Arrondissement, we walked there and picked up our pass, and spent the next several hours exploring world history from the French perspective – an incredible, fascinating, and well-detailed history. (We also spent some time visiting Napoleon’s completely over-the-top, hilariously grand tomb…but that’s a story for another day.)
The next day we were to go to the Louvre, determined to see a few wings of the grand museum that we
had not seen before in 2010. We had also remembered to bring our Rick Steve’s audio guide to provide some free commentary. Unfortunately, it was a free day, which is a great thing for the wallet but not so great for battling the crowds.
We did see some famous artwork, such as Winged Victory, and the Venus De Milo, as well as some ancient artwork from antiquity. However, even the Louvre was warm and I discovered the floor vents in each room where cold air casually drifted in the humid galleries.
After a few hours we decided to leave. However, we both needed a bathroom break. Having failed to find a bathroom in the wings we were in, and noticing the extremely long lines for the bathrooms in the lobby, we walked toward the underground mall adjacent to the Louvre and searched in vain for a public toilet. Finally, we came across a storefront called ‘PointWC’. The colored rolls of toilet paper on the wall gave away what the purpose of this “store” was – a lovely place where one can pay to use the facilities, while being surrounded by colorful displays of toilet paper and other bathroom amenities. How clever…and I don’t really want to know why the name ‘Point’ was used. But 1.5 euros later, we felt much better. In addition, getting out of the crowds and not having a long line (there was a bit of a line,
but not much of one) was worth the cost. Lucky travelers could even purchase various shades of paper to take home with them. Me? I just took a picture of the wall and made it my custom iPhone wall cover. Ha!
So, the owners found a need and filled it. Given the crowds, I’m sure they will be very successful. There are many needs in this world, and not many as light-hearted as that one. There is opportunity if you can think about how you can help others. The benefits come from giving and helping. Good luck!