Lesson 3 – Customer Problems & Jobs to be Done

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George and Jeroen discuss why it’s important to talk to your customers to find the problem worth solving!

 Time required: 18 minutes
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72% of startups fail due to lack of market demand. People buy things to solve problems or achieve goals (jobs to be done). Understanding these two ideas is crucial for startup success:

  1. Find customers with high problem urgency
  2. Find a problem worth solving
  3. Understand your customer’s job to be done
  4. Understand your customer’s job to be done hierarchy
  5. Understand the difference between job to be done and problems

Time required:  30-45 minutes, depending on your reading speed

“Love the problem, not the solution”

Do these exercises

This exercise works best if you have one solution or problem-area in mind. If you don’t have that, revisit last week’s lessons on idea selection.

To find your customer segment, you need to brainstorm about all potential customer segments

First, add Lesson 3 slides to your Journey Scrapbook and fill in the column “Potential Customer Segments”. A customer segment is a category of customers. For instance, “HR managers”. Or perhaps: “professional athletes”. Or “Municipality workers that are concerned with traffic problems”. You might have a big list, aim for 5 to 20.

For each of these customer segments, try to write down how this customer segment would describe the problem

It helps to ask yourself: Why is this a problem for this person? What are the unwanted consequences of this problem? Fill in the middle column.

Next, try to think of the Job to be Done for each of these customers

Watch the video of the Job to be done from above if you don’t know what this is. A good question to yourself is: “What is this person trying to achieve?” or “What are the goals of this person”. Fill in the right column. Tip: In the video, I talk about job hierarchies, if that’s confusing you, you can skip it for now.

Next, make an outreach plan according to this guide (click here)

From the above list you just generated, who is most likely to buy your solution? Now, think of the following: Where can you find these people? Are there physical locations where they hang out so you can talk to them? Or are they on LinkedIn? Info@company.de emails never work, so be diligent. This is a hard part of doing a startup: getting that first contact with someone. As you read “crafting an outreach plan“, work through the table on the slide “Your Outreach Plan”.

Try to reach out to 5 to 10 potential customers in the coming 2 weeks

You can’t control who will respond to you. So setting a goal of talking to 3-5 potential customers is nice, but can also be elusive. But you can control how many times you pick up the phone to talk to someone. Or you can control that you send 20 LinkedIn connection requests. But how many will accept or respond? Who knows. You will be throwing spaghetti at a wall and see what sticks.

Talking to people is not my hobby?

This is a common attitude of first-time founders who might be introverted or just don’t like to bother people. There are a couple of things to say: If you are able to actually help these people you are planning to talk to, you are not bothering them. And if they aren’t interested, they will just ignore your email or LinkedIn message. How painful is that?

What if you think: “Hey but I don’t know my solution yet, so I can’t talk to these people”? Well, you are not there to sell your solution. You are talking to these people to learn about their jobs to be done and problems. For that, you don’t need to have any solution in mind.

Still, experiencing a hurdle? Talk to some people you already know first about this, to get your gears moving. Then start doing the outreach.