What problem are you solving?

On a recent blog, I briefly touched upon and emphasized the importance of defining exactly what problem your product is solving—and thus what value it is generating—for its users. 

This sounds like an elementary step in a product’s journey but it is still one that is often overlooked. 

From an idea to a fully-fledged product with multiple user journeys, why users flock around a product is “the problem” it eliminates from their lives.

So, today, I want to put together my learnings as a founder on how to approach your startup as a “problem-solving” tool. Read on.

1) The first one of my learnings was quite simple to be honest: Ask yourself if your idea has any merit. Put it to test in your close circle before you move on to whatever comes next. But, more importantly, try and see if you have the passion to pursue that idea for whatever reason you may have to do so. Try to analyze your motives and determine if you will enjoy delving deeper into whatever subject you are exploring.

2) Talk to people, not experts: In the early days of a startup, you will be asked, or even given “guidance,” to meet a lot of people. The list of people you will be asked to meet will comprise investors, experts, fellow founders, advisors, and others with big titles. My advice is this: Simply don’t. Spend your time meeting the people you really should be meeting: Potential users. 

3) Find out what problem you’re good at solving. I wrote a whole other post about this but this is still worth mentioning here. Do not approach your product as a shiny piece of hardware or state-of-the-art software. Approach it as if it is a rusty piece of metal that is good at doing just one thing; doing what it is meant to be doing. 

4) Focus: Again, a simple looking advice that can easily and rapidly get complicated. First, referring to my previous point, decide what problem you want to eliminate. Second, find out how you can quantitatively measure if you are doing a good job at it. Obviously, this will be different for each startup but there are a few things to watch like the number of transactions, basket size, read ratio, number of shares, etc. Define this metric really well and focus solely on it until you have a healthy growth rate. 

5) Do not stop at any cost: Whatever you do, do not lose momentum. Why? Because, no matter how hard it gets to keep going at times, it is far more difficult to start again once you stop. If you need one piece of information to leave with from this post, heed these words.

Lastly, while we are on the subject of “not stopping at any cost, one more piece of advice would be to “start” building your own thing. I know I never really got to talk about this—and maybe I should in the future—but it is the best advice anyone has given me in my youth. If you have an idea or passion for something, create mental and physical space you need and plan for a 6-week sprint by the end of which you could call yourself a creator. See how that feels.