New businesses often fail because they offer solutions to nonexistent problems. These solutions in search of problems happen because many would be entrepreneurs make guesses about their market’s pain points. They mistakenly place themselves in their target market’s shoes and try to imagine their needs. Another mode of entrepreneurial failure occurs when a person has a clever idea, falls in love with it, and proceeds to base a product around it.

Identifying the problem should always precede creating the solution. A software solution is the perfect type of product for this process because software is infinitely flexible. If you can think it, software can likely do it. Unlike physical products, there are no complicated supply chains of material vendors, manufacturers, or fabricators. You won’t have to invest in warehouses filled with physical inventory. Other headaches such as inventory control and shipping are nonexistent. Basing a business around software products amounts to correctly identifying a need or pain point, outsourcing the software development to talented, professional people you can work with, and marketing.

How do you ensure that your product isn’t in search of a problem? Research. If you are targeting consumers, one of the simplest ways to do this is through forums. There are forums for almost every market niche out there. Finding them is as easy as doing a Google search. A search for “forum directory” is a good start.

After joining several large forums, sort the threads by their size and recent activity. Then check the ones centered on specific problems or that express frustrations. You can also enter phrases such as “how to,” “learn,” “problems,” “questions,” and similar qualifying phrases into the forum search bar.

Forums allow you to be the proverbial fly on the wall. Frequent forum participants tend to freely express themselves, and the information you obtain is genuine and real. You will get plenty of context surrounding these problems in forums that is completely lacking in cut-and-dry marketing survey forms.

Another benefit to forums is that active participation in them gives you a chance to form relationships and to demonstrate your expertise. This is done by answering questions and volunteering solutions to those in need. Many forums allow a signature link at the bottom of your comments which can point to your business website. Forum members visiting your site through this link make highly targeted leads. This means that the very same forums that provide product ideas can also be the source of your first customers.

At Spiralogics, customized software solutions have been our specialty for over fifteen years.Contact us for more information.