Successful Startups Solve Problems

Why are startups successful?

Is it timing? Effective marketing and sales? A user-friendly product?

It could be any one of the above but the biggest reason a startup succeeds is it solves a problem. The problem doesn’t have to be big, it just needs to be a problem that people want addressed. If a startup can be a problem-solver, it stands a better chance of resonating with consumers who have a need for it.

Now, this may strike you as an obvious statement but it’s always surprising to see startups that don’t solve problems. Instead, they offer nice-to-have products that could make life a little easier or convenient but people can live with or without them.

Many of these “non-problem” startups are features as opposed to products. They look and feel like something that could be bolted on a startup solving problems. Some of these startups could attract some attention but most of them slip into the night without so much of a sniff of the spotlight.

For entrepreneurs looking to create a startup, the most important thing to do is identifying a problem that people experience. It can be a small problem that addresses a minor irritation but that’s okay if there are enough people looking for a solution.

By focusing on a problem, an entrepreneur has a solid foundation for creating a product. Ideally, the product is accessible, intuitive and user-friendly so it’s easy for people to use and embrace it. It’s a fail and a shame when a problem-solving product fails due to bad design, UX or UI.

With the right product solving a problem, a startup can develop sales and marketing campaigns to drive awareness and revenue.

It is important to note a good product, along with solving a problem, is an important pillar for startup success. As much as you can have great sales and marketing, it doesn’t matter if the product is bad or not needed.

Bottom line: solve a problem to give yourself a shot at success.

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  • JM

    It’s great to have a startup that solves a problem, but how many of the successful startups have been created to solve a problem that people are suffering from? Facebook? Smart phones? Mobile phones? Television? Sure now if you take any of these products away they would cause tons of pain, but at the time they were invented, no one suffered from them not existing. There was someone with a vision to improve life of people with these products, but they were originally nice-to-have and became integral must-have parts of people’s life over time.

    • Mark Evans

      Good point. I guess the best startups create products that also solve problems that people didn’t realize they had. :) Thanks for the comment.

    • GeoTel

      I also think the benefit of a startup is that they are focusing on defining the problem and trying to be original. They aren’t yet bogged down with, “We do it this way because this is how we have always done it.” So many businesses get in their own way. Startups are defining their own box and aren’t yet at risk of being confined by the box.

    • Sijmon

      @JM I disagree. Even Facebook and mobile phones were built to solve a problem. The fact that most current users didn’t have the problem back then is not relevant.

      At the time they started they were aiming for the select group of people that DID have the problem they tried to solve.

      Even though the first mobile phone user group was very niche (basically everyone who wasn’t a doctor or real estate agent didn’t see any real benefit in making mobile calls) they were the target audience for the product. Likewise was Facebook mostly aiming for the introvert students who needed a more comfortable way to communicate with other students.

      Obviously these products skyrocketed and eventually everyone felt the need for it. But in the base, even these big successful current products/businesses were solving a problem that did exist with at least a small group of users.

      Keep in mind that most people don’t know they have a problem, and when they do most of the time they don’t accept the solution or consider it necessary enough. This can change when other people (who do acknowledge the problem and accept the solution), also known as early adopters, start using it.