Product Vs. Solution

“Building a Product Vs. Solving a Problem – Is this a valid question?” you might ask.

Yes, it is, here’s why: “Let us focus on building a great product,” you will hear this more often in the group of passionate startup entrepreneurs.

But wait, focusing on building a great product is the wrong focus.

Instead, focus on solving a customer problem.

The problem with focusing on building a product is that it takes away your focus from the most important area – serving customer needs.

Let me confess – many a time I have spent a lot of days, nights and weekends working on building a product that I feel would work well. Not always it has worked as expected.

Sometimes customers have come up with something else, something totally different from what I would have imagined.

Sometimes customers did not use the product I have created. The product was totally unsuccessful. Super Flop.

Sometimes customers have loved the product because of totally different reasons than what I would have ever imagined.

Customers might be using the same functionalities but for different reasons.

Let me put it right – it would be really great to focus on creating a product if you are 100% sure that it will really solve a particular problem as no one else does.

But you are never sure. You might have a very likely guess that your great product might solve the problem. But at the end of the day, it is just that – guess.

When you focus on serving your customers then you will focus on shipping something that might solve customer’s problem. When you discover that the product you had shipped is not solving customer’s problem then you’ll either make necessary changes in the product and would ship it again or come up with another, better product.

Customers don’t care about products, they just care about solving their problems. 

Pause and wear the customer’s hat for a moment and observe your interest. Using a great product or solving your problem?

Solving your problem, isn’t it?

Sure, focus on building a great product is better than having no focus at all but it is certainly not the most effective one. It is similar to the fact where the focus on profit is better than no focus at all but it does not work for a longer period.

Drucker puts it right:

“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer, not mere profits.”

Given it is business, profit has to be an extremely important objective but the core focus has to be strongly aligned with the purpose of business. Focusing on solving customer problems is a better focus. Drucker would also vouch for that.

If you focus on the right thing, you increase the probability of generating the right results sooner than later.

Right focus brings the right results. So let’s get this distinction right and start focusing on the right things.