Simon Austerberry

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Build in Public

ShopNote Build in Public #1: Finding a problem to solve


4 min read

First time here? Why not read why I’m building a SaaS in public.

Before I write a post, I make a note of what I’d like the reader to get from it. In this post, I hope you’ll:

  • Understand why solving your own problems is a good place to start when building your own SaaS
  • See how I found the problem I want to solve for my own SaaS startup idea

It started with a conversation

Let me tell you about my brother. He’s passionate about cars – and always has been. And over the past few years has become passionate about car detailing.

For those unfamiliar, I can only describe detailing as next level car cleaning. We’re talking ceramic coatings, special tyre washes, and manually cleaning every nook and cranny. Anything to create that “straight from the showroom” look and feel. It’s a niche interest but one with dedicated followers and an equally passionate customer base.

The idea for my first SaaS idea came from a conversation with my brother. He was showing me some of the detailing Youtube channels and how they were making money from product sponsors. Cue the lightbulb moment. Ding.

When it comes to affiliate marketing, finding a niche is key. And here, staring in front of me was a niche. This felt like a perfect moment to create an affiliate marketing blog. It was something I’d never done before, but was keen to try.

Creating an affiliate blog the ‘traditional’ way is far from perfect

Eager to start this blog, I looked at the different ways to create a blog.

One option was to build it from scratch – the way I’ve built other sites before. Create a site with NextJS and Tailwind, and then hook it up to a CMS like Dato, or even Airtable.

However, after some digging online, the same solution kept being recommended time and time again. Wordpress. It seemed to be the “go to” for affiliate marketing blogs.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of Wordpress. Many painful memories in the past had left a sour taste in my mouth. It felt bloated, and I hated how updating plugins was a regular occurrence which could often break a site. Perhaps things had changed since I last used it. After all, it was probably 5 years ago. Still, I decided it was a no go for me.

However, it got me thinking.

Wordpress isn’t the easiest way to get a blog up and running. You need to download it, find a host, install it, find plugins, install plugins, find and install a theme, and try and customise the theme to make it work for you. And then for affiliate marketing, find and install more plugins. And that’s all before even writing any content.

What if there was a solution that gave even the most untechy of people the ability to start their own affiliate blog? One that took seconds, with no technical know-how needed?  There’d be no need to find hosting, no need for plugins and themes, and no need for coding.

It was this moment the idea for my SaaS product was born.

The benefits of starting with a problem you have yourself

There’s a fantastic article by Paul Graham who talks about How to Get Startup Ideas. In it, he mentions the three things the best startup ideas have in common, one of which is to solve a problem you have yourself.

I couldn’t agree more.

The very best startup ideas tend to have three things in common: they're something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing.

Paul Graham

Great startups solve problems. And there are two benefits of solving your own problem. First, as Paul Graham mentions, you have evidence this problem exists. This is important. After all, if the problem doesn’t exist, what are you creating a solution for?

Second, you have your first user already. You. This means you understand the problem (at least a little bit), and are more likely to create a solution that solves that problem. As I said, great startups solve problems.

If you want to create your own startup or SaaS product, and are still searching for ideas, why not take a step back? Look for problems, and ideally, try and find a problem you have yourself.

What's next?

I have my problem to solve. And this is a great place to start. But it’s no guarantee that this is a problem other people have. Or that there are enough people who experience this problem.

If I want this to become a successful SaaS startup, I need to see if there is a market for it.

Therefore, my next step is to try and see if others are experiencing the same frustrations when creating their own affiliate marketing blog.

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