Determining Which Problems to Solve Requires Wisdom

An important first step when building a product/business is determining what problem you are actually solving.  Pick the wrong problem and you will waste precious time, resources and energy running in the wrong direction.  Pick the right one and you just might have a billion dollar business on your hands.

The key is to be wise in how you pick the problems you will ultimately solve.

thinkingSean Ellis said it best.

Surprisingly, founders’ instincts to solve problems can also cause us to fail. Many startups miss success signals because they are too busy solving problems. Our instincts tell us to be responsive to customer feedback – especially negative feedback. These problems are so actionable that we feel good solving them. But over time a startup that chases problem after problem creates a bloated, fragmented solution that isn’t really needed by anyone.

 Think about that statement for a minute.  Basically, what Sean is saying is you cannot run around and fix everything that people complain about in your product.  It takes wisdom to decipher which feedback from customers – positive or negative – you should listen to and act upon.

He goes further.

Ultimately the goal of any startup should be to create a “must have” product experience. The signal that tells you that you have created a “must have” product is your true north to build a successful business. You should understand everything you can about the “must have” experience so you can cultivate and protect it. Who considers it a must have, how are they using it, why do they love it, why did they need it, where do they come from…?

A “must have” user experience.  Perfect.  That’s exactly what you need to be striving for and what customer discovery is all about.  He lists of a few questions that need to be asked about the target user.  I can think of hundreds more which need to be written down and answered through interviews, user testing and the customer validation process.

The goal = listen to the positive reinforcements from customers, follow where they are leading and create the best product possible.  All the while not listening to all the negative feedback and not building X, Y and Z feature just because one random customer emailed you and suggested you need to include it.

Be wise my friends.