I have been out of touch of software programming for a couple of years now, and I wish I get time to get back to it. Knowing how to program is the difference between your ability to come up with an idea vs actually bringing it into the world.
For the last few days, there has been a lot of backlash around the new Twitter design. Honestly, I actually liked some change, but certainly as many noticed, the right sidebar Trends were pretty useless, and left sidebar menu seemed too big.
So as a problem solver, I immediately thought, there should be a Chrome Extension such that, every time I visit Twitter website, it would hide the right sidebar entirely and convert the left sidebar menu into small icons and expand to full menu only on mouse-hover. That would make the new Twitter experience much cleaner.
I thought, what a great idea. But I just thought about an idea and moved on. I didn’t execute on it.
Firstly, I didn’t have chops to develop a Chrome Extension. Secondly, I have 100 other things to do on my plate.
A framework to choose which problem you should solve
Yesterday I met few friends after many years. After everybody sharing their whereabouts, it was my turn to share what I’m working on. I explained I’m working on a new venture and also shared the details of the problem we’re solving. The first question one of the friends asked was — “why did you decide to solve this problem?”
It was a great question. As they say, as a startup founder, you should be able to answer these 3 questions with high clarity and conviction –
Why this? (Focuses on problem statement and opportunity)
Why now? (Focuses on market and technology landscape)
Why you? (Focuses on founding team)
The good part was, I had thought a lot about why I want to solve this problem from various perspectives, so it was easy to answer my friend’s question.
So I thought I should share a framework with you all that I used to decide which problem I want to solve.
I researched and brainstormed a couple of problems extensively, discussed it with other people too, and eventually decided to solve a problem that I faced every single day in my professional life as a knowledge worker, and is also applicable to pretty much most of the knowledge workers in the world.
I want to fix the productivity and information loss problem that happens during every “meeting” — the necessary evil of a corporate life.
While it was a simplistic overview of why I picked up the problem that I’m currently working on, here is a list of questions I used to choose the problem I want to solve and start my next business venture —
Do I personally face this problem? If yes, do I face this problem very frequently and how frequently?
Do other people also face this problem? If yes, how many such people exist? Is it a very large population?
Do I have the basic understanding of the problem and the solution domain?
Is there a lot of progress happening in the larger space of that domain?
Do I have initial thoughts on what will be the differentiation compared to competitors?
Is it a hard problem to solve such that it will not be easy for too many competitors to enter into this space?
If I make it affordable and at the same time deliver high value, will people pay? If yes, who will pay and how much will they pay?
Will a single user receive a value from this solution or will it require more people using this service (e.g. entire team or organization) to receive basic value?
How will I sell this solution? Can I sell this using bottom-up B2C2B model or will I need a typical top-down enterprise sales model?
How will I distribute this solution? Are there any viral/referral distribution opportunities? Are there any platforms/partners that I can integrate with to distribute this solution?
Do I believe by solving this problem, will I be making a positive impact in many people’s lives and the world a better place?
Finally, if I fail to solve this problem, will I learn something new that will prepare me for the next wave/demand in the technology space?
The current problem I’ve decided to solve met all above requirements and had very compelling answers for each of the question.
I hope this framework and a list of questions will be useful to you too to choose your next business venture.
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