Base Your Product Strategy On a Problem NOT an Idea

by Sean Boyce

Many product businesses are born from ideas NOT problems.

This is one of the reasons why the vast majority (9 out of 10) of product businesses fail.

Why does this matter? It’s simple – if you start with an idea, it may not solve a problem and if your product business doesn’t solve a problem then you don’t have a business.

Have you ever been part of a product team or company that constantly pushes their product as the be-all and end-all solution to almost everything? Has this strategy lacked any additional context around why this is the case?

I can tell you that this approach doesn’t work because I’ve been a part of a culture like this at a product company, and ultimately the product failed. However, this wasn’t the reason for failure. It was actually just a symptom of a larger problem.

It’s natural to think that a product business would be built around an idea. However, the problem here is that this isn’t the way people behave.

It’s like building a house without a foundation. It might look like it’s working, but even if it is, it probably won’t for much longer.

The foundation of a product business is the problem we solve.

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So what can you do to adjust your product strategy to make sure you don’t build a home without a foundation?

Rally around a new purpose

Inspire your team to strive towards the goal of uncovering what the market needs. Instead of stuffing ideas down your prospective customers throats, focus on asking questions around their problems and work on documenting the uncovered patterns.

Refine your skills around listening to customer problems. Develop a process for identifying the biggest and most expensive problem experienced by the customers. Focus your product strategy around solving this problem with your product.

Stop trying to prove that you’re right

Instead, do the exact opposite and watch the sparks fly. I can almost guarantee you will learn something new about your market if you take this approach. Chase your customer’s problems until a pattern emerges around a specific target market. Build your product’s value proposition around a solution to that problem.

Want to measure the strength of your product’s foundation? Let’s talk it through, email me at or visit us on the web at NxtStep.

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