Does the world run out of problems?

How to find new problems in a world that seems to have everything.

You decided you want to start your own thing. Your own side-project. You read online that the best way to start is to find a problem to solve.

But all the clear problems are already fixed, one way or another. There seems to be no problem to fix anymore.

Audience first solution

It's not enough to think about what problems different people have. You need to observe their daily life. See what you can improve.

You cannot go and ask them what would they need to be more effective in their daily life. If they knew, they would have implemented it already.

Your audience might not know what they know until they see it.

That means it's your job to figure out how you can help them. Engage with the audience, observe their daily lives, see what the pain-points are.

Some things could be so ingrained in people’s habits that they don't even bother improving. Completing some forms or papers, for example.

Anything that involves physical paper must disappear. Follow the paper trail, remove it from the process. 

Any task that involves spending unproductive time is a perfect candidate.

Is my solution unique enough?

You found the problem, cool! Now you need to solve it somehow. Most people get stuck while trying to solve it because they feel that there are other tools that can do that.

Why create an online database that you can embed anywhere (Airtable) when you have Google Sheets? Why create a music streaming service (Spotify) when you can listen to music for free on YouTube?

Sometimes, people look for the right tool for the job. Sure, you can cut pizza with a spoon, but wouldn’t it be easier with a knife? Or better yet, with a pizza cutter?

You need to be as precise as a surgeon. Target the problem you are trying to fix and find the most clinical way of solving that. That’s all, don’t focus on anything else.

Make the user experience as good as you can. Don’t trust yourself though, ask for feedback from the actual users as early as possible. You might think something is incredibly easy to use, but it might not be obvious to some people.

Don’t bother too much with the thought that your product is not unique enough. Think about it like this. You are unique. Sprinkling your own personality over your project makes it unique.

It’s not a complicated formula to start: Solve a problem + Implement it how you imagine it.

The rest will follow from the first customers. Your customers are the architects of your solution. You imagine it. You create an MVP.

Market validation

You can have the best solution to fix a problem, that means nothing until you can actually distribute it to the people.

Building in public is an incredibly useful way of creating hype around your project before it’s ready. If your target audience knows you are building something for them, they will get talking. This is the modern way to prepare for a launch with 0 budget.

Validate your ideas together with your audience. Engage with the real people that will use your product before you have it ready.

They will tell you if they like it or not. They will tell you if it’s good enough or not (tip: it usually is).

There is no reason anymore to build in a cave. There are enough ideas around and the internet remembers, anyway. If you were the first on the internet to address a problem, you will forever be remembered like that. Yeah, you might get more competition in time, but you don’t really need to compete against anybody anymore.

The Internet has made it possible for businesses to niche out incredibly tight and still make a comfortable living out of their products.

Your MVP might not be the final solution, and that’s fine! You start with an implementation in mind; you get feedback; you change your implementation. That’s how things work, and it’s totally fine.

While it’s important to have a baseline of quality, speed is much more important in the early days.

Don’t get too attached to your implementation, get attached to your audience. Real people with actual problems are where you need to focus your attention. Your product is nothing without them.

Personal branding

Don’t forget to share your journey along the way. Building in public is an incredible way to both boost your personal branding and bring awareness around your product.

Yes, that means you need to share your failures with the world. Yes, that means you will show vulnerability. Yes, that is anxiety-inducing in the beginning.

Just use the public-speaking tricks, focus on a couple of people from the crowd, and just imagine you are talking to them.

Don’t forget to make friends, as well. There’s no reason to keep being a stranger. The Internet is a good place to meet new people.

Practice

  1. Join Twitter

  2. Start looking for people from your audience

  3. Engage with the audience

  4. Offer free content