Most entrepreneurs know that one of the critical keys to product success, is ensuring they are solving their customer’s pain. Unless you are launching a truly disruptive product, where people are not aware they have a ‘problem’, targeting pain is the route to startup pleasure.

For various reasons, however, many entrepreneurs fail to discharge the burden on proof, when it comes to convincing an investor that their cure justifies investment.

There is a natural temptation when you’ve come up with a ‘great idea’, to believe that the pain your product solves, is one shared by many. Once people get to know about your cure, all your problems are solved. Not so fast….

Pain Checklist

Before you quit your day job and put all efforts in to making your idea a reality, make sure that what you have come up with, is not in fact a solution looking for a problem or cure looking for pain. The following checklist will help you determine if you are on the right track:

1. What segment of the market experience the problem?

2. Is the problem widespread or isolated?

3. What evidence is there for the problem that is independent of your own belief? Are there respected market research reports or credible customer surveys available that support your belief?

4. What level of pain does the customer experience? Is it sufficient to cause them to pay for your solution?

5. Is your solution a ‘must have’ or ‘nice to have’?

6. How are customers currently solving their problem? If there are no ‘competitors’ providing alternative solutions, then you have to very think carefully as to whether there really is a problem.  Multiple solutions tend to appear wherever there are problems.

7. Does your product solve the customer’s problem better than your competitor’s solution?

8. Is your product sufficiently better than your competitor’s solution, to cause their customers to switch?

While some of the above can be answered by reading research reports and articles, the most useful data will come from you spending the time to speak to customers. Get their feedback on both the problem and your proposed solution.

Once and only once the pain is so clear and intense that you can almost feel it, should you consider moving forward down the product launch runway.