What Would Your Customers Struggle With If You Didn’t Exist?

4 Minute Mission #6: Identify (or decide) what problems you solve for your customers?

Small Business Clarity

In the last mission you identified your primary customer. Now that you have your specific customer clear in your mind, we need to be able to state what problems, issues, or frustrations we are solving for them. This is fundamental to the existence of your business because it defines why your business is valuable to your customers.

You may feel that your business doesn’t really solve a a problem or frustration, i.e. you just sell a product. But this is a shift in thinking that you’ll need to make to build a remarkable business – it’s the difference between businesses that are not missed when they go out of business, and those that thrive because they are highly valued by their customers.

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What problem do you solve?

Start writing down the problems or frustrations or difficulties that you solve for your customers. If you’re having trouble, think about what they would struggle to do if you didn’t exist or went out of business. How would their lives change, what would they have to do to replace you.

The bigger hardship this would cause, the more valuable you are to your customers. If their lives wouldn’t change at all, and you going out of business wouldn’t pose a problem for them, then try to think of something they currently struggle with that you could solve with your services.

Are you really needed or are you selling a commodity?

If people would be no worse off without your business (i.e. they can get exactly the same thing from someone else) then your value to them is questionable. This may place your business in one of the following categories:

  1. Your business simply sells a commodity (a product or service). BUT if you JUST mow lawns, or you JUST sell garden mulch, then you can be put out of business almost overnight by someone who is able or willing to do it cheaper.
  2. Your business is in a high-demand industry. Because there are plenty of customers, you get your share and are doing ok. BUT if circumstances change (economic downturn, fall in demand, change in government policy, etc) then you could be one of the first to lose your share of the market (people can live without you, so they have no reason to be loyal).

If you sell a high-demand product, and the demand for that product suddenly dries up, what then? Those who merely sell this product could go out of business quickly, but a business focused on solving a need for their customers (with this product) has a chance to adapt to solve their problem in a better way, or to solve a related problem when circumstances change.

A classic example is the recent failure of some of the large chains of bookstores. They sold books in stores for many years but suffered due to both of the points above – online companies like Amazon firstly sold the same books more cheaply, and secondly began serving the needs of readers in other ways (e-books) that saw the demand for print books fall at the same time.

The Answer: Become more than a seller

Do you deliver to their door and install, or make it easier for the buyer somehow? Are you the only provider in your area? This is how you begin to build an offering that is different to your competitors, and decommoditise your business.


dominos strategyDominos offer not just pizzas but speed and convenience (30 minutes or it’s free). They solved the problem of having to wait a long time for pizzas to be delivered. By doing so, they provide value beyond a bit of dough with toppings.

What Solution Do You Offer?

What is the solution you offer to your customer’s problem?


Naming the problem is another way to call out your customer. If you can articulate your customer’s problem to them, then a) you will get their attention, and b) you show them you have an understanding of their problem. This in turn gives some confidence that you could solve their problem (because you understand it and have flagged it as your major focus). You’re saying “we are dedicated to solving X”.

Get feedback here if you want it!

You know the drill – have a go in the comments below, and I’d love to give you some feedback and check out your website.

See you soon for the next mission…


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