Understanding your problem is critical to solving it. No matter how awesome your idea may seem, if it does not solve a problem, it will struggle to become financially viable.
Problem = Market Opportunity.
To transform any idea from concept to creation, there needs to be a market. One of the biggest challenges I have found in working with thousands of aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs has been correctly and clearly stating a problem and making sure it is the correct problem.
Ideas are easy to come by. If we sat a group of 5 people down and gave them 10 minutes to write ideas down, we would easily have a list of at least 50+ ideas! Ideas are truly, as the saying goes, a dime a dozen. Ideas are cheap. Solving validated problems and executing those solutions is what ultimately matters.
The problem and solution dilemma that I often encounter at events like Startup Weekend is that people come in excited about an idea; what is not always so clear is what problem it solves. The good news is that you already know the problem, the bad news is that you skipped over it so quickly, you didn’t even notice it. So, which came first? It was definitely the problem. Even though ideas (i.e. insights) often seem to spark out of nowhere, they actually come from a complex and seemingly magical interaction and culmination of problem awareness, solutions for other problems, and your personal knowledge bank. POOF! All of a sudden, you have an idea. The underlying processes happen so quickly and subconsciously, that you believe the idea just came to you.
At this point, your mission is to figure out what problem your idea solves. This poses a challenge to many, but it is critical you understand your problem clearly before you move on, or else you risk possibly solving the wrong problem. Further more, if your problem is too broadly defined, you may pursue a solution so complex that your customer will struggle to understand it.
Below are 30 questions/challenges I pose to people to help them identify the problem to their solution/idea. Completing these questions will help you understand the following:
- The job/task that is affected by the problem
- The person(s) or group(s) affected by the problem, directly or indirectly
- The difference between your customer and user, if one exists
- The problem; when and how it manifests itself to each group
- What the problem costs the user and/or the customer
- The scope of the problem (market size)
Complete the 30 questions below in order to clearly understand your problem and market opportunity. Continue reading