Problems worth solving

Start by looking for those in pain.

But how do you know if they really are in pain?

Look for friction. Serious signs of friction.

Why friction?

Because you don't want to waste time luring people towards a goal.¹

You want to offer help to those who are already stuck or burned by their motivation. You want to offer a painkiller to those frequently and significantly dealing with friction felt striving towards their goal.

You're not looking for a job-to-be-done.

You're looking for the job-that-needs-to-be-done.

Your job is to verify that need and create the painkiller.

Look for clues like demonstrated demand.

And actually talk to people.

Understand motivations and goals:

What actions do they actually do that cause them pain?

What are they already trying to do to reduce that pain?

Those are signs of opportunity to help — to create value.

They might not even realize what's causing them pain. It's important not to ask directly about it because you want the pain and the desire to alleviate it to be genuine. The need should be apparent to you as an outsider. It's your job as the entrepreneur to identify these hidden pains as opportunities and it is exactly why you'll later get rewarded for the relief.

Pre-commitments help hedge the risk of your time spent creating the relief. It also indicates extreme pain and desire for it. It also requires trust in you. Earn that trust.

It's also smart to ensure selling the painkiller will help you achieve your own aims. Not all pains need relieving. Some might even be necessary.

One other thing to keep in mind is that you don't want to just sell additional force to overcome friction.

You want to create and sell a product that reduces or eliminates friction.

Lubrication is one way to reduce friction — smoothing or easing the process in achieving a goal.

But how do you eliminate friction?

You lift.

You don't push a heavy couch — there's too much friction. You lift it up first, with some help, to make it easier to move around.

Products do the same thing. They're like these levers that lift our efforts, eliminating friction. They provide new, better, more effortless ways of achieving our goals. It's what makes certain products so satisfying. They require far less friction to overcome to achieve what we're after.

It's also what makes building them difficult. They have to be able to understand how to correctly lift someone's motivations to provide the leverage they do. That's why they are so valuable.

But with new levers come new frictions. Frictions that might just be new problems worth solving.


  1. If you think you have the influence or cool-factor to lure people towards a goal, by all means, go for it. But it's more likely you have not yet earned the trust to have this level of sway and your best option is to offer help to those who need it.

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Published 3 months ago