By Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner

Starting your first business is exciting and stressful, regardless of what niche you choose to enter. You have to think about your marketing strategy, product lines, customer retention, website design and much, much more. One of the most important things entrepreneurs have to consider is how they are going to use their business to solve their customers’ problems.

Virtually every business model is designed to solve a customer pain point. In a nutshell, we can sum up customer pain points as their problems as it relates to the niche where you operate. It’s your job to figure out what issues your potential prospects are facing -- even if they aren’t aware of the problem -- and offer them a solution that provides value to their lives.

Let’s take a look at how you can start figuring out where your business fits into the lives of your customers and how you can better address these issues and gather data.

Understand the four types of pain points.

Before you start marketing your product or service to the masses, you have to think about what kind of problem you hope to solve with your brand. Generally speaking, there are four different types of pain points, all of which can be broken down into many smaller categories. These are the four main types and an example of a struggle associated with the problem.

  1. Cost: Prospects want something comparable to what they are currently using at a cheaper rate, or without additional costs and fees. 
  2. Productivity: Prospects feel as if they are wasting their time or less productive due to their current product, or lack of a product. For example, a business decides to use a team chat program over traditional email to save time, increase productivity and communicate with their remote staff.
  3. Ease of process: Potential customers are having trouble with a complicated or unnecessary process and looking for something to make their lives easier. In this case, you could imagine that software that regulates and organizes leads makes the lead nurturing process easier.
  4. Assistance: Customers invest in a product or service only to discover that they have limited technical support or product assistance. This could manifest if a business creates a business model that solves complex problems for the user but doesn’t explain how the customer can use the product after purchase.

Once you figure out the pain point(s) of your ideal customer, you can pivot your business strategy and learn how to improve your existing business model to please your audience and prospects.

Ask open-ended questions.

Gather data on your target audience to understand their pain points. One of the most effective ways to find out what issues your audience is facing involves asking open-ended questions.

Depending on your niche, business model and visibility, you can use multiple channels for discovering ways to improve your overall customer experience. You could, for example, take to your social media profiles and ask questions about the industry, your current products and how you can improve the overall experience for your customers moving forward.

Similarly, you could include a satisfaction survey or questionnaire on your website. The reason that open-ended questions are so important is that they help you get into the mind of the individual customer, instead of generic three-option questions. You can use this additional data to figure out where you can improve and address pain points in future products or updates if you’re selling software.

Compile the data.

Once you’ve heard back from your customers, it’s time to sift through the data and find out what problems your customers or prospects are encountering. Since you gave them the option to answer the questions in their own words, you can pinpoint individual struggles and make connections that would otherwise get overlooked during a standard multiple-choice survey.

It’s crucial that you ask the prospects two core questions: You need to find out what problems they are facing and what you can do to improve the experience. As you look through the information you’ve gathered, you’ll start to see a bigger picture and learn exactly where your customers are coming from and how you can build your brand around their needs.

All businesses want to obtain new customers, generate sales and operate a successful company. Before you can have a company that services millions of people annually, it’s vital that you take the time to figure out their pain points and build a value proposition with solutions to their problem. Asking questions and examining your target audience can help you make informed choices about the state of your new business and help guide you in the right direction.

Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site that helps small businesses start their website.

Published on: Jun 19, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.