Gauging How Painful a Problem Is

An aspiring founder has been looking for the right problem to solve. He heard about a problem and found a company experiencing it. He talked to the company leaders to understand the problem from their perspective. They validated the problem, but the aspiring founder wasn’t sure how painful it was. He decided to send them a proposal before he started building the solution. It recapped his takeaways from their discovery conversation and outlined key functionality that needed to be built. More importantly, it also included potential pricing options for the solution.

The company leaders’ response was telling. They didn’t want to pay anything close to the pricing the aspiring founder had proposed. Hearing this, the founder paused building this solution.

This founder quickly learned valuable information: this problem isn’t painful enough for this company to pay for a solution. This founder likely saved weeks or months of time. Now he can focus on finding a problem that needs a painkiller instead of one that’s merely inconvenient.

Great companies are built around solutions that create value by solving painful problems. If the value created is sufficient, customers readily pay for the solution. Finding a burning problem that is or will be painful to a large group of people is the key. If you build a business around an inconvenience, the chances of your solution turning into a large company are significantly reduced.