5 Questions to Ask before Building a New Product

Ideas Do you have an idea for an amazing product that will change the world? There is a lot of work between having that idea and actually changing the world. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you dive in.

(1) What pain/problem does your idea solve?

Pain Points

Your idea should make people’s lives better or easier in some way. Can you identify a pain point in people’s lives that you are solving? A bigger pain means people will be willing to pay more to address it.

For example, let’s consider the invention of the Phillips-head screw (which was actually invented by John P. Thompson and later sold to Henry Frank Phillips). The problem was that flat head screws were difficult to use with power screwdrivers because the screwdrivers would slip out the sides.

(2) How is the problem currently being solved?

You will want to do copious market research. Ask everyone you know how they currently solve the problem and what they think of your idea. Write everything down in a spreadsheet so you can quantitatively analyze how well your product will fit in the market. Go shopping online and in stores looking for a competitive solutions and answers to the following questions.

  • How much does the solution cost?
  • How well does it solve the problem?
  • How hard was it to find?
  • How does it compare to your solution?

For the Phillips-head example, the screws were comparable in most ways (price, size, strength, etc). However, the Phillips-head was much easier to use because it prevented the screwdriver from slipping off using a self-centering design.

(3) What makes you uniquely qualified to solve this problem?

You will probably need more than a first movers advantage to have sustained success. Do you have a particular passion for this problem? Do you have a particular set of skills that allows you to solve the problem better than most people? Do you have a patent that gives you a monopoly on this solution? The advantage you need is largely dependent on your answer to the next question.

After acquiring the design from John Thompson, Henry Phillips refined the design and filed additional patents which enabled him to successfully launch the product.

(4) What kind of business do you want to have?


Your path will be very different if you want to have a lifestyle business–one that pays you a nice salary to do what you love (ideal situation)–than if you want to be a growth business that is destined for the New York Stock Exchange. The vast majority of businesses are the former, especially when starting up. Either way, you will need to dedicate years and possibly decades of your life to making the business a success.

(5) Finally, if you are building a smart product, you should give us a call.

Let’s talk about your idea and determine if it is a good fit for our services and technology. If it is, we can help you get to market faster, less expensive, and with more features. It it isn’t a good fit, we can probably point you in the direction of someone that is.

Photos by Beth Scupham, Julian Santacruz and Rolf Kleef