The best startups are usually run by a founder that has experienced a problem in their own life and is looking to solve that problem for themselves and others like them. A fire to find a solution and bring it to the world is a powerful driving force that can help a new business in the difficult early years. Having a mission or a calling to fix a market and help people can often be the difference between success and failure.
Many of the best startups begin with a founder that has a problem and they believe the current solutions are inadequate. They understand the problem and the first customer base deeply because they are the customer. They know the reasons that the existing solutions don’t work since they have tried them all and seen the holes firsthand. Dropbox was started by Drew Houston who kept getting frustrated by the need for a USB drive to save and share files. Daniel Ek started Spotify to help musicians get paid for their music streamed online. Tobias Lütke started Shopify to get his snowboard company a website to sell his goods online. The list goes on and on.
This personal experience with a problem creates a North Star that the business can follow. It will give a founder a set of guiding principles built around the customer that can be a create building blocks to win. It will help you attract other people to the team that are also passionate about the market you are tackling. This passion to solve a problem will give you clear messaging to use with customers, partners, and investors.
A founder who is just looking to get rich and not solve a problem they care deeply about is more likely to run for the hills when the going gets tough. The startup life is hard enough, if you don’t care deeply about fixing a problem you likely won’t make it to the finish line. Your North Star based on solving a problem will keep you engaged and motivated even if you hear “no” over and over again.