You've been told all your life that entrepreneurs solve problems. Right? Entrepreneurship 101 is all about offering solutions.
Well consider the following Value Pyramid:
Providing a Solution is only the first step and bottom of the pyramid. Almost every entrepreneur does this. Your local CPA provides a solution to a problem - you don't know how to keep your own books. Jiffy Lube solves your inability to change oil in an easy and quick manner.
When you move up the pyramid, you get into the rarified field of providing a Platform. Platforms support other entrepreneurs and solution providers. Think what Apple has done with the iPhone App Store. That is a platform where other software entrepreneurs have been able to make a living on by providing third party apps to the smartphone. Conference producers are all platform providers, bringing sponsors, vendors, presenters, and audience together.
But further up the pyramid is Culture. This is exclusive territory. If you create culture, you're leading a tribe. You're changing the way people live their lives and see the world. Apple is unlike every other computer manufacturer; there is a rabid culture that unites Apple fans around simplicity, beauty, and cool technology. There is no tribe surrounding Dell Computer, or at least Dell's tribe is very small and lethargic. Very few entrepreneurs have impacted culture or created new culture.
Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett's investment company, demonstrates that you can create culture even if you're not offering snazzy beautiful technology products. Berkshire Hathaway has an avid tribe with a strong culture revolving around frugality and value investing.
Gatorade provides a solution, it quenches your thirst and adds electrolytes. They've skipped the platform part altogether but they have a huge cultural following. Professional athletes and weekend athletes all believe in the excellence of exercise and replenishment. And the belief is almost religious.
Most of us settle for providing solutions. Not everything can become a platform and fewer opportunities can create culture. But because platforms and cultures are so rare, they are extremely valuable.