Creating (good) problems for others to solve.

Software startups often try to solve everything with their solution. Here’s why they should focus on creating a good problem for others to solve.

Joe Manna
3 min readJun 6, 2014

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“What is the problem your solution solves?”

“Who has this problem?”

“Why does this problem need to be solved?”

These are three questions I routinely ask when counseling fellow developers and entrepreneurs when they are discussing integration and partnership opportunities. Why? I need to know how these software solutions are an ideal fit for our users and I want to maximize the opportunity for your customer acquisition.

For those that know these answers very confidently, they will go much further in the integration discussions (not just with me, but with anyone). When you know the problem that you’re solving, who has the problem and the logical and emotional reasons why the problem must be solved, you’re in a great position to determine if partnering with another company is ideal.

So, here’s a practical example:

GroSocial by Infusionsoft solves the problem (specifically, the complexity) of generating leads from Facebook Pages. Any business owner who has been told to create a presence on Facebook would be a prime target of their solution. And any business who puts in resources to grow their audience on Facebook has a material interest in driving leads and sales from their efforts.

Now, where the integration aspects comes into play. When you frame it up for context of the other party, you can see the sparks fly.

For context, Infusionsoft is a small business marketing and sales solution that nurtures and converts leads along with a myriad of other benefits for the typical small business owner. The input for Infusionsoft is leads. The output is newly-converted customers. The better the input, the better the output.

GroSocial creates the problem that Infusionsoft solves.

Yes, it’s okay to create a problem that an integration would solve. In fact, this makes integrations and/or partnerships very attractive. There are obviously a number of factors that come into play such as customer demographics, market conditions and other growth opportunities, but the point is that the integration was a prudent decision for both companies to consider.

So, before you integrate with another software company, ask yourself the three questions in the beginning of this article. Have solid, succinct and clear answers to them. You should have some supporting evidence so you are stating facts, not opinions.

Create the problem that others can solve and partner with them. You will be offering a complete solution for your users that successfully adopt your solution. This also alleviates the R&D need to recreate the wheel, when a technology partner can solve those user pains for you.

With regard to the image used for this post, Apple creates a highly-valuable mobile phone that people are eager to protect. While the phone has improved its strength, the need to protect it keeps OtterBox in business. Apple doesn’t need to make iPhone cases, because their ecosystem solve that problem for them.

Are you creating a problem that others can solve? If so, you will easily discover new business opportunities and growth for others. If not, maybe it’s time to assess your customer lifecycle to see where it makes sense to partner with others to grow your business and improve your focus.

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Joe Manna

A guy living in Phoenix who loves small businesses, startups and cars. These views are my own.