Summary Lesson from Will It Fly by Pat Flynn



Your Customer P.L.A.N is a framework that will help you understand the target customer for your side hustle. It stands for:

  • Problems
  • Languages
  • Anecdotes
  • Needs

Once you discover your customer P.L.A.N you will know how your side hustle idea fits to your target audience.

To use the framework, you will first have to prepare a spreadsheet. Open a sheet and label the tab as P.L.A.N. Label four columns in the sheet, Problems, Language, Anecdotes and Needs. Let’s explore each of these components.


According to Pat:

A business idea is really just a potential solution to a target customer’s pain or problem. The better you can solve that person’s problem, the more successful your business will become.

This component is about finding your audience’s pain. This will require you to do some research and here are some ways you can do that:

1-to-1 Real Time Conversations: Speak with people face-to-face or have a phone conversation with them. Ask the right questions like:

  • What’s something that frustrates in this area?
  • If you had a magic wand and could change anything in this area, what would you change?
  • What problems are costing you the most money right now?

Go to the places where you can find potential customers and ask them questions.

Surveys: if you are struggling with 1-to-1 conversations then you can use surveys. Ask questions about what people’s challenges are but not what they would buy. Social media are good places to do surveys, so if you can find a target audience on social media then administer the survey.

Paid traffic: If you still face challenges reaching out to a target audience then you may be able to use paid advertising such as Facebook advertisements.

Whatever problems you identify write them into the appropriate column in your spreadsheet.


Pat writes that:

When you are starting a business, one of the most important things you can do is understand the language your target customer uses to communicate. What words do they use to share their pains and struggles?

The task here is to learn the language of our target customer. To help us with the search to understand language we will need to look for questions, complaints and keywords that our audience market uses.

To search for the questions that your target audience are asking, you can explore forums related to your target market, FAQs on specific websites where common questions are posted. Complaints are quite common. You can search for them on forum’s and Amazon reviews. Finally, for keywords, you want to try and figure out what keywords your target audience are typing into search engines. One way to do this with Google is:

  1. Type in any keyword related to your target market, then hit enter.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom to locate “searches Related To:” section.
  3. Record the keyword you see there into the appropriate column in your P.L.A.N spreadsheet.

Don’t forget to record all the information you discover here in your spreadsheet.


Pat writes that:

An anecdote is a short, interesting story, and they’re some of the most powerful tools you can use in your business.

The goal here is to find real stories about the target audience. By listening to stories you can identify where people need help. The best place to get stories from is through 1-to-1 conversations and you can ask people for their stories but you might not always have that opportunity so you will need to search for alternative ways to get stories. Forums are good places to find stories as people relate their experiences of certain problems. You can also get stories through audio podcast interviews though this is a less easier source but do look out for good stories in these interviews especially those related to your target audience. Remember to record the information you gather into the spreadsheet.


If you’ve done your homework for the first three components then at this stage you should have enough information to create a list of needs that your target customers have. For this stage Pat gives us a warning though:

…you must understand that a need is different than the product or business that you’re potentially going to validate or build. A need is what you believe your customers require to solve a problem, and the product or business becomes the mechanism to fulfill the requirement.

The goal is for one or more of the needs identified to be the basis for a kind of product or business. To identify needs, use the problems column in your spreadsheet to determine what your targets audiences potential needs are. Go through one problem at a time and in the corresponding cell from the Needs column write down the need. Once you finish this process, to start in a small and lean way you will pick out one and only ONE need that you will focus on to build a product.

You can turn P.L.A.N into P.L.A.N.E by adding an E column to your sheet next to the Needs column. E stands for Elixir which is a remedy or solution for the need identified. You can do this before picking out just ONE single elixir to focus on. Later when you expand you may be able to work on some of the other elixirs.

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