Updated: Jan 16, 2022
One of the biggest pitfalls most entrepreneurs fall into is that they create a product or find a ‘solution’ without actually identifying the problem they’re trying to fix.
Many entrepreneurs develop solutions/products instead of focusing on solving an actual issue — which will make any potential investor question whether they understand said issue at hand (not just know about its existence).
For instance, in 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M in the United States, accidentally created a “low-tack”, reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. For five years, Silver promoted his “solution without a problem” within 3M both informally and through seminars, but failed to gain “adherents” (pun intended). In 1974, a colleague who had attended one of his seminars, Art Fry, came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmark in his hymn book. The product itself was released in 1979. The rest is history! :)
Don’t ever get married to your ‘solution’ but to the ‘problem’.
So ask yourself;
the nature of your problem if it’s a vitamin or a painkiller: is it nice to have or need to have for the customers? There are successful products in either bucket, but your strategy could be different in how you’re developing them.
if your market is a new one or an existing one: an existing market refers to one where there are similar solutions to your product, a new one on the other hand means you have a wide open market opportunity (which is a bliss and a curse as you’ll need to educate your customers potentially)
your motivation (why you’re doing this in the first place): when the going gets tough, it helps to remind yourself of why you do this. But even if you’re not the one who experiences the problem you’re solving, it pushes you to always keep your eyes and ears open towards your customers.
your potential customers: do they actually need a solution to this problem or not? Are they already paying for alternative solutions?
Do the exercise, not just think about them. Even if the problem still looks somewhat vague, answering these questions helps bring clarity.
Remember, if you’re not able to explain the problem to an investor, you lose their attention in the first instance.