38 Questions that will help you find your Startup Product Market Fit

I’m a big fan of the value proposition canvas. In this post i’ve gathered all the various questions that will help you define and fill out the different parts of the The value proposition canvas, you can find those questions and further explanation on the business canvas methodology at the awesome site strategyzer.com.

The customer profile


Jobs describe the things your customers are trying to get done in their work or in their life. A customer job could be the tasks they are trying to perform and complete, the problems they are trying to solve, or the needs they are trying to satisfy.

Use the following questions to characterize and consider the various “jobs” of your customers:

  1. What is the one thing that your customer couldn’t live without accomplishing? What are the stepping stones that could help your customer achieve this key job?
  2. What are the different contexts that your customers might be in? How do their activities and goals change depending on these different contexts?
  3. What does your customer need to accomplish that involves interaction with others?
  4. What tasks are your customers trying to perform in their work or personal life? What functional problems are your customers trying to solve?
  5. Are there problems that you think customers have that they may not even be aware of?
  6. What emotional needs are your customers trying to satisfy? What jobs, if completed, would give the user a sense of self-satisfaction?
  7. How does your customer want to be perceived by others? What can your customer do to help themselves be perceived this way?
  8. How does your customer want to feel? What does your customer need to do to feel this way?
  9. Track your customer’s interaction with a product or service throughout its lifespan. What supporting jobs surface throughout this life cycle? Does the user switch roles throughout this process?



Pains describe anything that annoys your customers before, during, and after trying to get a job done or simply prevents them from getting a job done. Pains also describe risks, that is, potential bad outcomes, related to getting a job done badly or not at all.

Use the following questions to test, examine and write down the various “pains” of your customers:

  1. How do your customers define too costly? Takes a lot of time, costs too much money, or requires substantial efforts?
  2. What makes your customers feel bad? What are their frustrations, annoyances, or things that give them a headache?
  3. How are current value propositions under performing for your customers? Which features are they missing? Are there performance issues that annoy them or malfunctions they cite?
  4. What are the main difficulties and challenges your customers encounter? Do they understand how things work, have difficulties getting certain things done, or resist particular jobs for specific reasons?
  5. What negative social consequences do your customers encounter or fear? Are they afraid of a loss of face, power, trust, or status?
  6. What risks do your customers fear? Are they afraid of financial, social, or technical risks, or are they asking themselves what could go wrong?
  7. What’s keeping your customers awake at night? What are their big issues, concerns, and worries?
  8. What common mistakes do your customers make? Are they using a solution the wrong way?
  9. What barriers are keeping your customers from adopting a value proposition? Are there upfront investment costs, a steep learning curve, or other obstacles preventing adoption?



Gains describe the outcomes and benefits your customers want. Some gains are required, expected, or desired by customers, and some would surprise them. Gains include functional utility, social gains, positive emotions, and cost savings.

Use the following questions to consider and write down the various “gains” of your customers:

  1. Which savings would make your customers happy? Which savings in terms of time, money, and effort would they value?
  2. What quality levels do they expect, and what would they wish for more or less of?
  3. How do current value propositions delight your customers? Which specific features do they enjoy? What performance and quality do they expect?
  4. What would make your customers’ jobs or lives easier? Could there be a flatter learning curve, more services, or lower costs of ownership?
  5. What positive social consequences do your customers desire? What makes them look good? What increases their power or their status?
  6. What are customers looking for most? Are they searching for good design, guarantees, specific or more features?
  7. What do customers dream about? What do they aspire to achieve, or what would be a big relief to them?
  8. How do your customers measure success and failure? How do they gauge performance or cost?
  9. What would increase your customers’ likelihood of adopting a value proposition? Do they desire lower cost, less investment, lower risk, or better quality?


Product side

Gain creators

Gain Creators describe how your products and services create customer gains. They explicitly outline how you intend to produce outcomes and benefits that your customer expects, desires, or would be surprised by, including functional utility, social gains, positive emotions, and cost savings.

Could your products or services:

  1. Please your customers with aspects of time, money or effort saving?
  2. Create results that meet or exceed the expectations of your customers in terms of quality or by being used more or less than something else?
  3. Surpass the current value performance your customer has to offer. Are his problems due to a specific feature, quality or performance?
  4. Create positive social circumstances by showing your customers in a positive light or strengthening their position in the market?
  5. Do something specific that your customers are looking for in terms of design, responsibility or specific features?
  6. Fulfill a desire customers dream about? By helping them achieve their aspirations or getting relief from a hardship?
  7. Create positive results according to the “success” and “failure” criteria of your customers in the aspects of performance quality or low costs.
  8. Make adoption easier through lower costs, fewer investment or lower risk or through better quality, performance or design?

Source (The Q’s in this section where a slightly modified from the original source)

Pain relievers

Pain relievers describe how exactly your products and services alleviate specific customer pains. They explicitly outline how you intend to eliminate or reduce some of the things that annoy your customers before, during, or after they are trying to complete a job or that prevent them from doing so.

Can your product or service:

  1. Create savings in time, money or effort?
  2. Make your customer feel better by eliminating a frustration, nuisance or reasons for headaches?
  3. Fix under-performing solutions? By introducing new features, better performance, or enhanced quality?
  4. Solve difficulties or challenges that your customers are facing by simplifying the situation or removing barriers?
  5. Remove a difficulty/fear of negative social implications that your customers are faced with or fear in terms of loss of power, trust or status?
  6. Get rid of a danger that your customer is afraid of in terms of finances, social life, technical aspects or things that could go wrong?
  7. Help your customers sleep better at night by giving a solution for significant issues and/or giving a solution or even getting rid of central fears?
  8. Limit or eliminate common mistakes that your customer makes?
  9. Eliminate barriers that prevent your customer from adopting the value proposition? Showing lower investment costs and resources or a lower learning curve or getting rid of barriers that don’t allow them to adopt/implement the value proposition.

Source (The Q’s in this section where a slightly modified from the original source)

Learn the Business model canvas method

This post is a continuation of the post profiling the customer and finding a product market fit and is part of our series of posts on the business model canvas method for startups.

If you haven’t had time yet, I suggest that you read the series in the following order:

  • How to build a business plan for your startup — The lean business model canvas (Coming soon)
  • Profiling the customer and finding a product market fit (Coming soon)

Good luck!