The Painkiller & the Vitamin: Which One is Your Business?

Robyn Ward is a Business Development Executive with BetterWorks (

  1. Painkiller: solves problems, satisfies a needExamples: eBay, Salesforce
  2. Vitamin: adds value, fulfills an unknown needExample: Facebook

So there is a saying in business, “Is your product or service a painkiller or is it vitamin?”

This is really important and every entrepreneur needs to understand ask themselves this question. If you’re a painkiller it means that you’re solving a problem. This is something that people are often really ready to pay for because they’re at a point of pain hence, the name painkiller.

So a company like this would be an eBay which was how do you get rid of junk in an easy way. Salesforce is another one. It’s how do you keep your Salesforce connected, and actually allow people to properly follow up with businesses.

On the opposite side for a vitamin, it’s really a company that’s adding value or helping a business grow in a way that they might not have thought of before. You’re not really fulfilling a no need although, you certainly are serving a purpose.

So Facebook would be the example of a vitamin. People didn’t really know they need Facebook, and everybody loves Facebook but one of the issues that people that provide vitamin space is, “Is it sticky and are people willing to pay for it?” This is why Facebook doesn’t have a membership fee.

So if you are vitamin, I would make sure to really think about how you’re going to set up your revenue as monetization is key in any business. Both of these are great business types; the painkiller or the vitamin. But, you really need to know which one you are in order to figure out how you’re making money.