One of the fastest way to understand why entrepreneurs (from startups but also established companies) should focus on the problem before offering a solution, is by watching the movie from the article “Why products fail?” (see below) written by Ash Mauryo, author of the book Running Lean.
In the movie, Ash shows the different views from an entrepreneur, an investor and from a client by using the Lean Canvas to show what these important stakeholders love. The love from the client is most important. If an entrepreneur gets the love from the client and makes profit with it, the business is sustainable. If the business is also scale-able an investor would love to put his money in this business.
Products fail because we fail to find the right customers for our products.
- If I had asked people what they wanted, they would said faster horses – Henry Ford
- It is not your customer’s job to know what they want – Steve Jobs
BUT Listen to your clients, you have to know how to listen to your client. Focus on the problem.
We waste time, money and effort building the wrong product.
Entrepreneurs immediately fall in love with their solution and rush to build their solution. Entrepreneurs love their solution.
BUT Does the client would like to solve his problem with the entrepreneurs solution. Or even worse does the client see the problem at all.
Entrepreneurs are often thinking to build something different, so there is no competition. Entrepreneurs think that when it is different it is good.
BUT “First to market” is mostly not a competitive advantage. An entrepreneur needs to teach potential clients to solve some problem with the entrepreneurs solution. Or even worse the entrepreneur needs to teach the potential clients that they have a problem. Good luck!
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And when and how will the entrepreneur earn when he needs to teach his clients about problems and solutions first.
Investors don’t care about your solution. Investors care about:
- Evidence of traction, or engagement of your clients
- Margins and scalability
- The Market: how many clients can you get?
- How to get competition or copycats outside?
Investors like the right solution for the problem. Right is when the metrics are proven.
Clients don’t care about your solution. Clients care about:
- Clients buy products to solve the underline problems they have
- Clients like the promise.
So what to do as an entrepreneur?
- Start with your clients, not with investors.
- Start the conversation with your clients. If the promise solves the problem (even when the client was not aware of the problem, the client will love it.
- Start with early adapters
- Start with niche markets: when you try to market to everyone, you end up market to no-one.
- Currency is the price of your product but can also be engagement, attention (for example ad based model)
So why entrepreneurs should focus on the problem before offering a solution?
Because nobody cares about the entrepreneurs solution.