Does Your Product Solve a “Pants-on-Fire” Problem?

If you’re going to put yourself through the startup gauntlet, you’d better have a “pants-on-fire” problem to solve. 

We all know what it feels like to have a pants-on-fire problem. 

  • We’re not attracting enough of the right customers – and our revenue is dropping. 
  • Customers are leaving us because something’s broken in our system that’s not giving them a good experience – and our revenue is dropping.
  • My health is declining and I’m losing years of potential life because I can’t fix a problem with my body. 

These are general examples of big pants-on-fire problems. 

Of course, in the startup world, these problems can become fascinatingly nuanced. 

But we still have to be able to categorise them as pants-on-fire problems BEFORE building a product.

And herein lies the problem. 

Too many startup founders believe their idea *will* solve what they *think* is a pants-on-fire problem – without putting the proper measures in place to make sure that’s actually the case. 

They’ve been encouraged by investors and potential buyers that their idea is good and that the next logical step is to build the product. 

As a result, they rush to spend all the money they have on building their product. 

They’re reluctant to spend any of those precious funds on getting the right support and guidance BEFORE starting to build.

(So they know if they’re actually building the right product the right way – or not.) 

The outcome? 

All too often, it’s a product no one wants to buy. 

The ultimate failure. 

Those “interested” customers were interested in having their problem solved – but the product you built doesn’t quite solve it the way they need it to be solved.

So, they don’t buy it. They aren’t willing to pay for it.

Investors demanded growth and were looking for traction, traction, traction – without considering that if the founder built a product without a strategy they’d create traction in the wrong direction – away from success. 

Meaning no return on investment for them. 

Speed is important when building a startup – but ONLY when the time’s right to deploy it. 


At the start of your journey, put your product out of your mind. 

As entrepreneur Steve Blank says, “Get out of the building.”

Spend as much time as you can talking only to that niche customer that you believe has a pants-on-fire problem. 

Talk to them until you’re absolutely sure you’ve identified a pants-on-fire problem worth solving. 

And that you have full clarity on exactly what that ideal customer needs in the solution. 

Ask yourself:

For your specific niche customer (your beachhead) – have you spoken with a minimum of 20 people who are within that specific niche customer segment? 

Are you absolutely clear on:

  1. What success looks like for them?
  2. What they are required to achieve in their roles (and how your potential product could help them do this faster and more easily)? 
  3. What their biggest problems are – and the impact and frequency of those problems? 

Now ask yourself, does your product:

  1. Help your customers be successful in how they define success for themselves? 
  2. Does it fit in with their jobs to be done (and ideally eliminate / simplify those jobs)? 
  3. Does it resolve or remove some of their biggest (pants-on-fire) problems? 

The other big way to solve this commonplace startup failure is to get the right help up front. 

Over and over again, we meet founders who think they can go it alone in building a scalable business model. 

We often meet them again a few months or years later, by which time they are “reality bitten” – i.e. they’ve had problems finding customers, finding investors, finding partners. 

But by then, they’ve spent a whole lot of money and made the situation a whole lot more difficult for themselves. 

If you’re ready to take the easy/guided road to startup success (instead of the treacherous/DIY road), click here to request your Startup Builder Strategy Session with us. 

We’ll set you off in the right direction, and if you like, accompany you along the way. 


Whenever you’re ready, here’s how we can help you.

If you’ve got a startup idea, or you’ve already embarked on your journey – you might be facing one or both of these situations.

  1. You’re struggling while going it alone. Worse, you’re wading in the muddy waters of some not-so-great advice.
  2. Perhaps you’re trying to raise capital for your startup and you’re hitting a dead end. Raising capital is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Globally, only 0.74% of startups manage to raise capital at Seed stage. Despite this, 16% of startups we’ve worked with were able to raise capital at Seed stage.

If you’re ready to step up and get the help you need, our Startup Builder™ program was created especially for you.

The Startup Builder™ process is specifically designed to take you all the way from idea to global success – in a way that’s simple, sustainable, and scalable.

If you’re ready to grow your revenue, profit, and social impact faster without wasting time and money on the wrong things at the wrong time, click here to request your Startup Builder™ Strategy Session.


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