Ross N. Feinstein

On building with Data

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The Problem-Worthiness Calculus: what are the good types of problems to solve?

Problems ought to have a few basic properties before they’re worth solving in the context of building a business.

I’ve often heard from folks smarter than I that a problem worth solving has at least the following three properties:

  1. The problem should exude urgency: your customer shouldn’t be able to live without a solution.
  2. Customers should be willing to pay you money for your solution to the problem.
  3. The problem should be widespread and pervasive in the market.

Equally as important, but sometimes neglected in the Problem-Worthiness Calculus, is this property:

  1. The problem should be complex and diverse enough that you are excited and motivated each day to solve it, whether it takes days, months or years to solve.

Hard problems take time to solve, and businesses take time to build. If you’re not working on something that excites you and motivates you each day, you’re going to find yourself yearning for a different problem that you hope is worth solving.

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