How good are you at identifying what causes your prospective customers pain, frustration or irritation? It's a skill we need to develop and be working on every single day because the future of our business may ultimately depend on it.

To use a well worn example, Uber has come along at a time where there was a perfect intersection of technology and frustration. People were well and truly ready to use an alternative to taxis after years of frustration. When one came along, it was embraced around the world and Uber became a multi-billion dollar company in a few short years.

The same concept applies to virtually any business. It doesn't only work for the famous ones. Many businesses slowly become irrelevant because they are providing solutions to pain, frustrations or irritations that are no longer relevant to their target market.

The key here is to get really good at identifying pain, frustration and irritation with your target market and then constantly staying in touch and connected with our market to make sure we don't become irrelevant. We need to know their struggles and be the solution.

The problem is that many businesses have become too inwardly focused, making it all about them not their customers. Even worse, some companies simply don't care.

For a while I was working with a large newspaper on a range of advertising campaigns. I had six sales representatives to work with because that's what worked best for them. It drove me crazy, six meetings, six lots of emails, six people to track down. I begged them to give me one rep, but their response was "that's not the way we do it". In the end I stopped using them, because it was simply too hard. Their inflexibility cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars when all they had to do was provide a simple solution to my pain.

In any business, a major key to long term success is being super vigilant, super connected and super aware of what is going on in the world of the people who can buy your products or services. We need to be talking to them, researching them, building relationships with them, asking them better questions and constantly be on the lookout for anything that causes them pain, frustration or irritation.

Of course identifying these issues is one thing, but then we have to make sure we find solutions and tell them about these solutions. This is an ongoing cycle and every member of your team should be involved. Sometimes the people in accounting hear about a clients pain more than the people in the dispatch area. If no one speaks up, or if no asks them to report back on client issues, they might not and a small, easy to fix problem becomes a deal breaker.

We also need to look at what is happening in other industries. What problems are arising and how are companies within that particular industry solving them? Studying the innovators and start ups is a smart way to find this information out. Whilst they are often really impressive, we need to look deeper at the pain points they are solving, the frustrations they are helping to resolve and the irritations they ending.

So what causes your potential customers pain, frustration and irritation and what can you do about it? Understand their struggles and be the solution and your business will flourish for a very long time.

Published on: Apr 12, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.