How To: Identify the Problem You are Solving

…you have to know what problem to solve. ~ Thomas Kelley with Jonathan Littman, The Ten Faces of Innovation.

My partner and I were having one of our business discussion sessions and we moved into the discussion of problems:

“I get what Gig Theory is trying to solve” he said. “Your core problem is unemployment, but what is the problem GTS is after solving? It doesn’t seem like it’s solving any problem at all.”

We were discussing one of the products that are a key part of our future offering.

As I painted the picture of how GTS was actually solving a problem, a new problem had presented itself:

The problem of not being sure of the problem that the company was after solving

Every company that exists today does so for the sole purpose of solving a customer’s problem. They become successful when the customers that are being targeted are willing to pay a sustainable price for the solution and only begins to decline when customers don’t see the company’s solution as compelling any longer.

Hence to succeed as a company, you have to:

Know the problem you are solving and know the customer you are targeting to craft the best solution that can be monetized to sustain your business

A quote from one of my favorite business books, Mavericks at Work, speaks to all of this:

People don’t have time for companies to be confused. Neiman Marcus knows it’s for rich people. Deal with it. Nike is in the business of crushing the competition. So be it. The companies that get in trouble are the ones that are mushy about who they are. ~ Roy Spence of GSD&M via Mavericks at Work

Whether you are about solving an existential problem (unemployment) or one that is perceived as trivial (boredom), as far as there is a market large enough to sustain your business that is willing to pay you for the solution in time or money and you are able to communicate your solution clearly to that market you are onto something.

So what’s the Key? The key is doing the following:

  • Know your problem
  • Know your customer
  • Define the solution
  • Know how you deliver your solution
  • Clearly communicate your solution

These items will help define your business model, and your business model defines who you are as a company.