Identifying Problems Worth Solving: A Guide for Entrepreneurs

by Sean Boyce

In the world of entrepreneurship, success often hinges on the ability to identify and solve the right problems worth solving. However, tackling an issue without fully understanding its worth can lead to wasted time and resources. This blog post will guide you through the process of determining which problems are worth solving and how to address them effectively, ensuring a greater likelihood of success in your entrepreneurial journey of building better software or SaaS solutions.

Key Takeaways

  • Identify and reframe problems worth solving through research, observation, customer conversations and collaborative problem-solving techniques.
  • Evaluate market demand to ensure successful solutions by leveraging technology and resources.
  • Build trust with customers by providing consistent problem-solving strategies that create value.

Understanding the Essence of a Problem Worth Solving

As an entrepreneur, it’s vital to focus on problems that meet certain criteria, such as establishing an emotional connection with customers, demonstrating market potential, and being realistically solvable. A profound understanding of these aspects can help you create solutions that address the genuine problems your target customers face, ultimately leading to a more successful and impactful business.

The Essence of Problem Worth Solving

Determining if a problem is worth solving involves considering diverse approaches and perspectives, analyzing potential impacts, and understanding the reasons the market has failed to address the problem. This process, known as idea extraction, involves interviewing individuals in a market about the difficulties they face to identify a problem they are willing to pay to have solved, thus improving the customer’s circumstances.

Emotional Connection

Emotionally connecting to a problem involves understanding and empathizing with the feelings and experiences associated with the issue. By recognizing the emotional motivations behind customer issues, more effective solutions can be developed, resulting in greater customer value. For instance, Slack identified the need for a sense of community, meaning, and shared purpose in workplace communication and developed a tool that encourages inclusive communication and discussion around common objectives.

Emotional Connection to a Problem

Forming an emotional bond with the problem can spark motivation and ignite creative solutions. This approach ensures that entrepreneurs not only address the superficial aspects of a problem but also tackle its underlying emotional drivers, leading to a more profound and lasting impact on customers.

Pro Tip: People primarily take action for emotional reasons NOT logical ones. Logic prevails in the end, but emotional reactions are the primary driver for action. As such, it’s important that you know what emotional drivers are motivating users and customers to take action.

Market Potential

Assessing the market size and its potential to expand becomes important when determining if a problem requires a solution. One way to gauge market potential is by examining the amount of money customers are currently spending to address the issue. This helps us better understand important context around how motivated customers are to solve the problem and the impact that it’s causing to their business operations.

Market Potential of a Problem

Focus your research in these areas:

  1. Thoroughly research their target market
  2. Identify gaps in the existing solutions offered by competitors
  3. Ensure that their proposed solution addresses a genuine customer need
  4. Ensure that their proposed solution has the potential to capture a significant market share.


A problem worth solving must be feasible to resolve, have an emotional connection, and demonstrate commercial viability. Solvability comprises a critical component of this equation. I followed this exact strategy to bring my B2B SaaS product Podcast Show Notes to market. This software leverages AI to automate the creation of show notes for podcast episodes using AI. Before building this product, I validated it as both a problem worth solving and a commercially viable solution by selling it and developing an MVP before investing more significantly and building out the entire application.

Breaking down complex issues into individual elements by drilling down to root causes can render them more accessible and solvable. By considering the feasibility of a solution and the resources needed to implement it, entrepreneurs can ensure that their efforts are directed towards problems that can be realistically solved and have a meaningful impact on customers’ circumstances. This approach allows problem solvers to focus on the big idea that can truly make a difference.

Research and Observation: Key Steps in Identifying Problems Worth Solving

Uncovering potential problems worth solving requires a combination of research and observation, which can be achieved through customer conversations, industry analysis, and competitor study. The most promising approach to identify a customer’s problem worth solving is to engage in dialogue with a particular group of customers at the outset of the innovation process, allowing you to better understand their problems and challenges.

Thorough research and observation can help software and SaaS entrepreneurs confirm the existence and importance of a problem, directing their efforts towards resolving significant issues that can impact their target market positively.

Customer Conversations

Engaging with customers is vital for understanding their challenges and verifying insights with further research. While there is no definitive answer to how many customer interviews are needed to identify a deep problem with a sizable market, beginning with three to five customers and modifying questions every new set of three to five customer interviews is the ideal approach.

Key Steps in Identifying Problems Worth Solving: Customer Conversations

However, it’s crucial to be aware of a challenge in uncovering issues through customer conversations: individuals don’t always reflect problems and challenges of the same severity. This means customer A may report a problem with a minor impact as a BIG problem, but customer B may report a problem with a big impact as a small problem. As such, it’s critically important to develop a systematic approach to being able to compare problems and impact in a relatively consistent manner across a set of interviews.

Industry Analysis

Scrutinizing industry trends and advancements aids in identifying potential problems and opportunities. For example, the European Union’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) created a reason for businesses to need new software and SaaS solutions. By analyzing:

  • Customer needs
  • Market size
  • The competitive landscape
  • Technological advancements

Entrepreneurs can uncover potential problems worth solving and opportunities for growth by leveraging various strategies such as:

  • Customer surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Market research

Key Steps in Identifying Problems Worth Solving: Industry Analysis Strategies

Each of these strategies has respective pros and cons when helping you identify problems worth solving. A balanced approach is recommended to ensure you capture adequate context in the problem space.

Note: Be aware of a problem related to running focus groups I call ‘group think’. This is where you don’t get adequate representation from the group and the ‘loudest voice’ seems to carry because everyone doesn’t feel comfortable expressing their feelings in a group setting. This is where one on one conversations shine.

Competitor Study

Studying competitor offerings is vital to identify problems that warrant resolution, enabling entrepreneurs to understand the current market solutions and their potential limitations. By examining competitors, entrepreneurs can recognize areas where they can offer a superior or more innovative solution to meet customer demands and resolve pain points, ultimately ensuring that their solution has a competitive edge.

Key Steps in Identifying Problems Worth Solving: Competitor Study

Competitor study not only helps in identifying potential problems worth solving, but also assists entrepreneurs in understanding the market conditions, customer inclinations, and potential barriers to entry for given markets, which are essential components in determining the practicality and success of a business.

Pro Tip: There’s always competition. Even if it isn’t the same format as what you plan to build. If you want to build a software solution then you may be competing against another product or a service. Either way, that’s your competition. Study it because you stand to learn a whole lot from that investment.

Collaborative Problem-Solving Techniques

Entrepreneurs can encourage innovative problem-solving by employing collaborative techniques, including brainstorming sessions, design thinking, and stakeholder mapping. These approaches encourage creativity, cooperation, and reiteration, ultimately leading to innovation projects that are tailored to the needs and desires of the users.

By engaging with a diverse group of stakeholders, entrepreneurs can gain valuable insights and perspectives, helping them to identify, validate, and address problems in a more comprehensive and effective manner.

Brainstorming Sessions

Inviting various stakeholders to participate in brainstorming sessions can create a broad assortment of ideas and perspectives, ultimately leading to improved solutions. Brainstorming sessions can be conducted in-person or using online platforms to facilitate wider participation, and they can involve both individual and group brainstorming to prevent groupthink and encourage faster innovation in a psychologically safe setting.

Key Steps in Identifying Problems Worth Solving: Brainstorming

Through brainstorming sessions, entrepreneurs can:

  • Evaluate all aspects of an issue
  • Encourage creative thinking
  • Provide further pathways to success
  • Ensure that the focus remains on the broader perspective and the problems to be solved, rather than jumping to solutions prematurely.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a systematic and human-centric approach to problem-solving that can greatly assist entrepreneurs in recognizing issues worth addressing. The design thinking process consists of five steps:

  1. Empathize: Comprehend the needs and perspectives of the target users or customers.
  2. Define: Clearly define the problem or challenge that needs to be addressed.
  3. Ideate: Generate a wide range of possible solutions or ideas.
  4. Prototype: Create a physical or digital representation of the solution.
  5. Test: Gather feedback and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.

By following these steps, entrepreneurs can uncover issues and develop innovative solutions.

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The advantages of design thinking include:

  • Promoting creativity
  • Cooperation and collaboration
  • Iteration and continuous improvement
  • Tailoring solutions to user requirements
  • Minimizing risk
  • Increasing the likelihood of success

Stakeholder Mapping

Stakeholder mapping is an essential component of the problem-solving process, as it assists entrepreneurs in comprehending the people, groups, and organizations that can influence or be influenced by their project or business. By mapping out stakeholders, entrepreneurs can ascertain their requirements, expectations, and issues, which are essential in understanding the problems that are worth solving.

Key Steps in Identifying Problems Worth Solving: Stakeholder Mapping

In order to prioritize stakeholders and ensure that their perspectives and interests are taken into account when identifying and addressing problems, entrepreneurs can engage in the following activities:

  • Customer conversations
  • Competitor analysis
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Design thinking
  • Stakeholder mapping

Reframing and Validating Identified Problems

After identifying a problem, it becomes important to reconsider its framing and confirm its significance. Reframing a problem facilitates the consideration of it from varied perspectives and ultimately leads to improved solutions. For instance, my Podcast Show Notes tool can help podcast production agencies with more than just producing great show notes in less time and budget. My software helps them scale their agencies so it goes way beyond solving each of those problems.

Validation is another crucial step in the decision making process. By challenging assumptions, evaluating market demand, and conducting product discovery, entrepreneurs can refine and validate identified problems, ensuring that their efforts are directed towards addressing pressing issues with the potential to make a real difference in their target market.

Challenging Assumptions

It’s important to identify and question risky assumptions to prevent the development of bad software. Challenging the status quo, considering unconventional approaches, and visualizing alternative solutions can help entrepreneurs challenge assumptions and discover real problems, examine novel perspectives, and devise inventive solutions to address the underlying issues.

Disregarding assumptions could result in the production of an inappropriate product or solution, expending time and resources ineffectively, and neglecting potential opportunities. By actively challenging assumptions, entrepreneurs can ensure that their efforts are focused on addressing genuine customer needs, ultimately leading to more successful and impactful solutions.

Evaluating Market Demand

Measuring potential demand for a solution is critical to guarantee it meets a legitimate target customer need.

Reframing Problems Worth Solving: Evaluate Market Demand

Entrepreneurs should consider factors such as:

  • The size of the target market
  • The number of potential customers
  • The customer’s willingness to pay
  • The competitive landscape

These factors are important in order to properly evaluate market demand.

Product Discovery

Product discovery involves a series of activities, such as user testing, customer interviews, and feedback collection, in order to gain insights into the needs and pain points of the target users. This process enables entrepreneurs to validate the existence and significance of a problem and prioritize and concentrate on resolving issues that have a true effect on their target market, augmenting the possibilities of creating a successful and valuable product.

For instance, in the case of Podcast Show Notes, user feedback led to modifications in the initial version of the solution, such as:

  • Creating multiple title options for a podcast
  • Turning episodes into social posts and marketing emails
  • Creating new tiers for power users of the software
  • Enabling multi-language support to broaden the target market

This example demonstrates the importance of product discovery in refining and validating identified problems to ensure the development of successful solutions, ultimately leading to a problem solved for those facing the issue.

Turning Identified Problems into Successful Solutions

After identifying, reframing, and validating a problem, the subsequent step is to convert it into a viable solution. To achieve this, entrepreneurs should focus on creating a roadmap, leveraging technology and resources, and building trust and value.

By developing a clear plan, utilizing available technology, and delivering value to customers from day one, entrepreneurs can ensure that their efforts are directed towards addressing the right problems and achieving the desired outcome, ultimately leading to a more successful and impactful business.

Creating a Roadmap

Crafting a detailed plan that outlines the steps to address the identified problem and achieve the intended outcomes is key to transforming identified problems into successful solutions. A roadmap helps to set objectives, collect inputs, and prioritize the problems that need to be solved, ensuring that the emphasis remains on the broader perspective and the predicaments to solve, instead of immediately jumping to solutions.

Reframing Problems Worth Solving: Create a Roadmap

Formulating a plan of action, constructing a timeline, and establishing goals and objectives are essential components of a successful roadmap. By creating a roadmap, entrepreneurs can effectively communicate their strategic plan and coordinate resources proficiently, resulting in a greater chance of success in resolving the identified problems.

Leveraging Technology and Resources

Leveraging technology and resources plays a crucial role in boosting efficiency and productivity. Entrepreneurs have access to a plethora of online tools, software, databases, and other resources that can aid in identifying and resolving issues.

Reframing Problems Worth Solving: Leverage Technology and Resources

By employing technology and resources to create prototypes, evaluate solutions, and refine solutions, entrepreneurs can ensure that their efforts are directed towards addressing the right problems in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Moreover, entrepreneurs can assess their success when utilizing technology and resources by monitoring metrics such as cost savings, time savings, and customer satisfaction.

Building Trust and Value

Delivering value to customers from the outset and progressively building trust through consistent problem-solving and customer-centric strategies is vital for sustained success. Entrepreneurs may deliver value to customers from the outset by comprehending their requirements, furnishing solutions that fulfill those requirements, and delivering an excellent customer experience.

Reframing Problems Worth Solving: Build Trust and Value

By attentively listening to customer feedback, promptly responding to customer inquiries, and providing solutions that adequately meet customer needs, entrepreneurs can establish trust through consistent problem-solving and customer-centric approaches.

Ultimately, cultivating trust and value contributes to fulfilling customer requirements, developing a competitive advantage, stimulating innovation, and producing business opportunities that can improve a customer’s circumstances.


Identifying and addressing problems worth solving is a critical aspect of successful innovation in the software space. By understanding the essence of a problem worth solving, conducting research and observation, employing collaborative problem-solving techniques, reframing and validating identified problems, and turning them into successful solutions, entrepreneurs can ensure that their efforts are directed towards the right problems and ultimately achieve success in their endeavors. By focusing on delivering value to customers and fostering trust, entrepreneurs can create lasting impact and build prosperous businesses that address genuine customer needs.
If you could use help with strategy related to uncovering problems worth solving, schedule a free product strategy session with me so I can learn more about how to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some problems that need to be solved?

The world faces numerous pressing issues, such as climate change, wars and military conflicts, water contamination, human rights violations, global health issues, poverty, and children’s lack of access to healthcare, education, safety, and food. Each of these need to be addressed urgently and ideally with innovative solutions.

What makes a problem worth solving?

A problem is worth solving if it has a significant negative impact on the customer’s circumstances and a better solution can provide meaningful benefits compared to existing solutions, whether for many customers or a smaller niche group.

How do I find a problem worth solving?

To find a problem worth solving, interview customers to gain insight into their pain points and day-to-day activities. Ask them questions about how often they experience the problem and how they’re trying to solve it. Then, use further customer and market research to validate your assumptions. Finally, capture early demand when you have 70% confidence in the solution.

What does it mean to identify a problem?

Problem Identification is the process of clearly identifying the root cause of a problem and developing a detailed problem statement that includes the impact. It requires analyzing the context, background, and symptoms of the issue to form a hypothesis about what is causing or maintaining the conditions around the problem. This process involves gathering data, conducting interviews, and analyzing the data to identify the root cause of the problem. Once the root cause is identified, a problem statement can be developed that outlines the scope of the problem.

What are the criteria for a problem worth solving?

For a problem to be worth solving, it must be relevant to the target customer, have potential for commercial success and be realistically solvable.

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