How Relevant Is The Problem You Are Solving?

It is very likely that, in your own life, you’ve faced the problem you’re trying to solve—in your work, with your husband, your wife, your kids, your hobbies, etc. And for that problem, you didn’t find a good solution in the market.

Or maybe you are familiar with a bad situation that happens with other people and you feel compelled to help them with your knowledge on solving that issue.

So, you may know this problem quite well. Right?

However, when you decide to build a business based on a solution you’ve created to address a problem, it is not about you and your thoughts anymore. It’s about your customers’ lives.

Therefore, your first fundamental task is to understand if the problem is really relevant for your customers—as it seems to you.


Because, the “size” of the problem for your customers define how hungry for a solution they really are. And the hungrier they are, the easier it will be to convince them to start really paying attention and considering buying your solution.

That’s why this is the first thing you should validate when thinking about building your startup. 

Indeed, you must have thought about a great solution. However, if this solution only solves a “small” problem for your customers, they’ll will be less interested in jumping on board.


There are no facts inside your building, so get outside.

Steve Blank – The Startup Owner’s Manual

Yes. Get out of the building!

In this very beginning, one of the most important roles you’ll perform will be to talk with your customers about their lives and their problems.

You’ll do PROBLEM interviews to capture everything you can about the most important problems for your customers.

During these interviews, you’ll map all the context in which the problem occurs and try to answer questions like:

  • How much do your customers really care about the problem?
  • Why do they care?
  • Does it cost them money? Time? Effort? How much?
  • What are all the consequences this problem causes to them and to the people they care about?
  • How does this problem affect them in the short, medium and long terms?
  • Is it temporary?
  • Do they have a way to partially solve it? How?

I know… I know… You believe you already have in your head the answers for most of these questions. And I know it’s easier to just go ahead based on your assumptions.

But, believe me: there is much more hidden in your customers answers than you may ever imagine.

If you really pay attention to what they are saying (and not saying) during these interviews, I bet you’ll find really interesting insights that will guide your product development.

After performing 15, 20 or more problem interviews with your customers, you’ll not only be able to answer this post’s question, but will be able understand:

  • Which aspects of the problem may you explore to present a better solution?
  • Who are the customers who suffer the most from this problem?

If you realize that the problem is not that relevant (i.e., people don’t care about it or may solve it quite well with a simple and cheap solution), then try thinking about other problems you might have heard from the interviews you did.

If the problem is extremely relevant (i.e., your customers are insane about a solution), then it’s time to answer our next question:

What is Your Startup’s Market Size?

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Alexandre Azevedo

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