People are always asking me “Hey, I have a product idea. May I run it by you and get your input?”

Of course, I say yes.

They tell me the idea, and it’s usually “a technical thing for some kind of team.”

And my response is, “Well, that sounds neat, but….” And then I ask some questions. The answers to those questions tell me if the idea is any good.

The 5 questions to ask to determine if a new product idea is worth building. #prodmgmt Share on X

What questions do I ask?

  1. Who is this product for?
  2. Why do they want it? What problem does it solve for them?
  3. How are they solving this problem today?
  4. What’s wrong with their current solution?
  5. Why is your product a better solution for them?

First, they have to know the answers to those questions. And ideally, they talked to the actual people with the problem to get those answers.

These questions focus them on the “problem space.” Before creating a solution, they have to make sure there are people who have a problem and will pay to solve it.

Before spending resources on a new product, make sure there are people who have the problem you're solving, and that they'll pay for a solution. The 5 questions you must know the answers to. #prodmgmt Share on X

But what I usually find is that they don’t know the answers, and any answers they do have they made up themselves.

What they have is a “solution in search of a problem.” Unfortunately, that’s the best way to create a failed company.

What to do if you have a cool product idea

My recommendation to anyone who’s got an idea for a new product: Go out and get real answers to these questions.

(Check out Finding Market Problems Resources for a bunch of ideas and guides from me and others on how to do that.)


About the author

Your host and author, Nils Davis, is a long-time product manager, consultant, trainer, and coach. He is the author of The Secret Product Manager Handbook, many blog posts, a series of video trainings on product management, and the occasional grilled pizza.

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