How To Find And Validate A Market Problem

My last post was basically the highest level guidance possible about market discovery, including a litmus test for assessing your process. But I didn’t go into the actual steps for doing it. I’m not going to do that in this post either. Instead, I’ve got a few good sources and suggestions for guidance on how to do it.

Lots of people have put out lots of guides on how to find and validate market problems. Or, as they often put it, how to “find a product idea.”

Most of these guides are about finding new market problems to solve as a startup. But the techniques are equally valuable if you need to find new features for an existing product, or come up with new products to augment your product portfolio.

  • Amy Hoy’s approach to finding and validating a market problem is quite different from Paul Graham’s. For one thing, she’s more focused on “lifestyle businesses” versus becoming a billion dollar enterprise. Her technique is called a Sales Safari, and the big difference is that you aren’t solving *your own* problem. You can get the gist of the Sales Safari in this video. (You can attend her online course 30×500 – which I have not done – to learn more.) The fundamental idea of 30×500 is to find a problem that 500 people will pay you $30 a month to solve. This provides a good income if you are a sole proprietor.
  • Then there’s just going out and talking to customers or potential customers and exploring what their biggest problems are. This is best illustrated by Justin Wilcox’s “How I Interview Customers” video.You have to start with some idea of what you might want to work on – a hypothesis about a problem. But instead of starting to build something, you start talking to people who might have that problem. You can validate they have the problem, that it’s urgent, and that they’ll pay for a solution. His videos help you get started doing that.

I hope you find some of these links valuable and interesting for helping you find and validate market problems that you can solve with your startup, or your corporation.

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