How urgent it is for the customer to solve the problem?
Is it a new problem or an old one?
If the problem is old, ask yourself why nobody solved it yet? (If there is no new external factor that now makes it possible or worth solving it, ask yourself why it is not solved yet and why you specifically can make it work.)
Do customers talk to each other about the problem or is it something that they don't want others to know?
Do I need to pre-educate users and show them that they actually have the problem? (This makes it way harder compared to if they already know they have it.)
When chatting to the people experiencing the problem, how emotional are they about it? (Search for strong emotions.)
When talking to customers before I have a product, are they just helpfully chatting with me or are they willing to give me something valuable in advance, ex. money, a lot of time, reputation?
You should understand the audience you are solving the problem for incredibly well. They will be your boss for the next couple of years. Questions to ask yourself:
Do I know who are my customers?
Who is my early adopter ie. your first sub-niche that the problem impacts the most? (Be very specific, single moms in 30s are too broad of a group.)
Are there more niches that I can later expand to?
Is the total size of the market large enough that I can make the business of the size I want?
Does my audience even have enough money to spend to make sense for me? (Don't charge too little if you are a bootstrapper, pricing affects everything - Jason Cohen)
How well do I know the industry? (The answer should be very well, otherwise, you have some work to do.)
How long are the sales cycles in the industry?
Is the customer the one that pays?
If not, who is the one that gives me the credit card and what does he gain by paying to solve my customers' problem?
Does the person paying understand the importance of the problem?
Are the potential customers even interested in talking to me or are they hard to reach?
Can I get 30 of them to talk to me about the topic?
Did I already talk to some potential customers? (Go do it now! Make sure to go through The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick first.)
Considering my solution will have multiple pricing points. Who will be paying the highest price? (Identify what they have in common and focus completely on this type of persona. Forget the rest for now. Those people experience the problem most severely and you will learn the most from them.)
Even if the problem exists and your solution is the best on the market, it accounts for nothing if you
can't reach enough customers in a continuous, repeatable and affordable way.
Try to validate this before putting too much time into building your solution.
Where are potential customers gathering?
Where can I reach my early adopters / sub-niche?
Over which acquisition channels can I reach the customers consistently over a long time period?
If I can only choose one acquisition channel, what would it be?
If I only used this one channel, will the business still be viable?
What would be the cost of acquiring a customer over such channel?
Does the cost of acquisition over such channel makes sense with the price point the customers are willing to pay?
Can I get enough customers over such channel so that the business makes sense?
Go through all of the questions and try to validate them.
Notice which ones were the most uncomfortable for you to think about
and which ones were hardest to validate.
Answering those well might be a good place to start.
Did I miss something?
Which question made you the most uncomfortable?
Let me know in the comments.
Good luck on your entrepreneurship journey, I am cheering for you! 🍻👍
Big thanks to everyone that inspired me to think about building businesses differently.
I am still early on in my journey where good advice can make all the difference.
I will occasionally send you useful resources, my thoughts and new learnings about building profitable bootstrapped businesses. No spam, no BS.