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38 Comments

How can I discover a problem worth solving?

Hi Folks! I am a ReactJS developer, data engineer and founder. I am now trying to find what problem to solve with a saas product but I cannot come up with a clear problem to tackle. I have been using multiple processes for discovering a problem, but I cannot decide which one to solve.
Any tips on how to do it efficiently?
Btw, I have already used these processes:
https://othmane.io/writing/how_to_find_problems_to_solve
ATF Process (Annoying, Time consuming, Frustrating problem discovery process)

  1. 11

    Do some freelance work with multiple clients from different industries. You will learn about many problems and get paid in the process.

    1. 1

      This is sooo right. You'll learn about other companies' problems and you find some of your own.

    2. 1

      This. I keep thinking my product based business needs a service based business to keep intimate with customer needs.

    3. 1

      Hey thanks for the reply. I am actually working full time while doing this in parallel. Going freelancing will be way too much time consuming, plus I am not really interested in it. Thanks for the input tho, cause this is actually a good way to discover problems that I didn't know and I will try out in the future for sure.

      1. 2

        It's quite common to get ideas from in-depth knowledge and insights accrued from job/industry experience.

  2. 8

    I know this may sound bullshit, but try to solve a problem that it is a bit interesting for you. I am not saying to be passionate, but at least not boring. Don't try to solve anything that promises money because you may end up with a "startup" or side project that is as boring as having a boss.

    1. 2

      Honestly, that does not sound bullshit to me at all. I have come up with a few problems that make sense to solve and even I faced them, but Im not really interested in them at all. So I just don't focus on those. I built a startup before from scratch so I know it is not going to work if you are not a bit interested in it.

  3. 3

    There are hundreds of problems that need solving. From tiny ones like what to eat today to massive ones like stopping global warming. Find something thats useful for you - I.e. don't solve problems because you can solve problems. Solve them because it will make your life better - and hopefully someone else's. Obviously the more people you're helping, the easier it is to monetize. Also don't try to monetize until you have a clear strategy for solving the problem.

    And it needs to inspire you otherwise reward vs effort. And then 10x it for larger goals.

  4. 3

    About two years ago a programming friend was complaining to me about his challenge of finding an idea. He can code, build products and launch them - but he was always out of ideas.

    For me, I have ideas popping up all the time, so I tried to figure out where they come from - so I put everything down into an article I wrote:
    https://medium.com/swlh/how-programmers-find-their-startup-ideas-980a92fcd640?source=friends_link&sk=40cd0facb08dfb42926aed3ad9bdfe5f

    I hope it may help.

    (it is a "friend link", so no paywall or anything)

    1. 1

      Thats awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing this. Giving it a read right now :)

  5. 3

    I recommend finding a partner with a great idea.

    I know that a lot of popular "gurus" will tell you that ideas are a dime a dozen and that it's all about execution. That's complete hogwash. It takes both but the best ideas are rare and completely define clear roadmaps to a better future.

    Great ideas capture vision. Great ideas are exciting. Great ideas rally people around a common cause. Great ideas compress time and make it important to race to the exciting future you can so clearly see in front of you. Insight is the byproduct of empathy which is a less common attribute among founders (and people in general).

    When you find a cofounder that "fits" with you it will amaze you. All of a sudden 1 + 1 will equal 3 as your energies will amplify each other.

    Communicate what you bring to the table and offer to join something exciting. Be picky but when you find the right fit you will know it. Then, don't hesitate.

    Make it known that you are looking to join in on an adventure. People need help and people need each other. Nobody knows everything (and if they think they do then run away quickly).

    Vision is an exciting thing to encounter. A great idea sets the world on fire.

    Best of luck to you!

    1. 1

      Finding a cofounder. That is a problem itself :P Thanks for that input, but I have been in the startup game for 2 years now, and I am not interested in looking for a cofounder to start something. Also, it will take ages.

  6. 3

    I am actually in the same boat as you on trying to find a problem to solve for. Here is some advice that was told to me that's helpful.

    Pick an industry that interests you, so for example, say you want to build software for general contractors. Go on LinkedIn and start messaging any general contractors you can find and ask them if you can have an informational meeting. The goal of the meeting is you want to ask them what their pain points are, what takes them a long time, what is a PITA, what would they pay for? Try and schedule 1 or 2 a week.

    Expect this to take months, but the more conversations you have will allow you to start hearing some of the same pain points. If you develop a good rapport go back to them and ask if they would pay for something like this or if they would be an advisor.

    I would focus on historically old school industries, ones that have little innovation or ones that are overly reliant on pen and paper and emailed excel sheets.

    Happy to chat more.

    1. 1

      Hey, that is actually useful. The only thing with that is I am not sure 100% what my ideal customer is even if I know what industry to focus on.

  7. 3

    Can’t come up with a problem to solve is in itself a problem to be solved 🤣🤣🤔🤔

    1. 2

      hahaha yeah yeah I thought of that too. But I'm not really passionate/ interested in solving this by building a full product/service and focusing on it fully.

    2. 2

      recurring problem haha

  8. 3

    Hi Tasos,

    Just how deep are you into ReactJS? Cause we found getting started in React to build https://github.com/Uclusion/uclusion_web_ui to be a massive headache. I feel there are near unlimited ways to sell to React platform users so long as you avoid whatever Facebook has on their roadmap.

    1. 2

      Knowing both React and other templating systems. I still don’t see the benefits of React. Unlimited ways to sell i think because it changes so frequently it’s hard to keep up with.

      1. 1

        Well, there are some limitations to it. Is just FE in the end of the day. Thats why I moved to NextJS, makes it almost full stack.

    2. 1

      I have been using it for over a year. And to be honest I just moved a bit deeper to NextJS which is basically built on top of react/nodejs so you can actually code server side stuff from the frontend project itself. Super cool

      1. 2

        Heard about it and it seems to be picking up some traction, I even see some jobs requiring NextJS. Let me take a look at it later.

  9. 2

    Get a job.

    Seriously, I worked at Vonage in 2017 and their main feature was integrations.

    I left Vonage and paid a dev team to build Vonage's integrations.

    Today that company is called Loup and does multiple 6 figures.

    PRO TIP: Do NOT build something new. Find a product that is already HUGE (proof of concept) and make a niche version of it, or make it better.

    In my opinion, do NOT try to find a problem and solve it. Find the customer first!

    1. 1

      Thats a good approach, and honestly I always try to think this through. I mean regarding the customer first part. If u know the target customer, the process comes out natural. But yeah I am not trying to find a completely new problem. Something interesting to me, that I know people face it, and I can charge from day one. Thats my goal.

      1. 1

        @tvalt25, can I tell you something. I don't think VoIP CRM integration is that interesting. I keep doing it because I find business interesting.

        I have found that (for me) if you make the journey/business the "interesting" part then the product doesn't matter.

        Man, I wish you luck. My advice would be to just start building. If you run enough A/B tests you will find what works and what doesn't work. The longer you take to start running those test the more you fall behind.

  10. 2

    It's great that you're not trying to come up with a random idea and trying to discover a problem to solve.

    We share demand-based Chrome Extension Ideas in https://chromeextensionideas.substack.com/subscribe

    If you are interested in building an extension, Check it out.

    1. 2

      Yeah I think random ideas worked 10 years ago. Now you need problems. Which is good. Thanks a lot for sharing this, I am actually interested in building an extension. 50% of the planet uses their laptops from 9-5 :P

      1. 1

        "50% of the planet uses their laptops from 9-5 :P"

        That's a nice way to put it. Let me know how you like ideas in the newsletter.

  11. 2

    Want to join my startup? super early stage looking to change the way we sell, manage, and interact with customers through social channels!!

      1. 1

        Awesome! Message me on Twitter and we can get started! https://twitter.com/VeerajMehta3

  12. 2

    had the same problem and made this list https://pain.land :)

    1. 1

      Love the concept. I think it helps a lot. But looks like I cannot even try it first, requires payment?

    2. 1

      Thank you for sharing this!

  13. 2

    I think the first step is to define a criteria for worth solving:

    • Monetizable
    • Challenging
    • Social impact

    Also have a timeframe, is it worth solving for a weekend or a lifetime?

    I have tons of problems that I consider worth solving, but at the end I am often too busy or too tired to work on them and I am currently working on the one that is not my favorite but I think it has a good balance between challenging and monetizable, so I enjoy a lot working on it and can bring some financial independence in the future, also it is less time consuming.

    1. 1

      Hmm this framework is actually interesting, will add it to me discovery processes. Thanks a lot for that.

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