How to Write the Best Problem Statement for Your Startup

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Every business owner at one point has to write a problem statement for their business. By definition, a problem statement is a clear description of a certain issue that needs to be addressed. In the context of business, it can refer to a description of those issues that may hinder achieving business objectives.

So, how can you go about writing the best problem statement for your startup business?


Acquaint Yourself with the Components of a Problem Statement

Components of a problem statement include:

  • The problem. Give a clear description of the problem. Briefly outline its extent, scope, and impact. This should be accompanied by relevant information as to why the problem is important and the justification as to why it should be resolved.

  • Solutions. This involves a method in which the problem can be solved.

  • Purpose, scope, and objectives of writing the problem statement. Any write-up should have these. Observe brevity here.

  • The actual statement. You may pose it as a question or a declaration. It should be concise and captivating to the reader.


Conduct Research

This is the first step before you embark on writing the problem statement. This research entails identifying the underlying factors that are directly and indirectly responsible for the problem. It is through research that you get an in-depth understanding of the issue at hand. There are various sources where you can get material for your research. You can check business journals, business articles, online pages, and academic sites. Just make sure you have a reliable and accurate source.


Give a Succinct Explanation of the Problem

Use direct language, concise words, and embrace brevity. The explanation should not exceed five sentences. The premise here is to be as specific as possible. Avoid wordiness and unnecessary jargon. While at it, describe the size, extent, and effects of the problem.


Proceed To Lay Down the Facts

You should have gotten a number of facts after initial research. At this point, you should lay them down. At first, you should point out the facts that have a direct bearing on the issue at hand. This will involve stating the relevant authorities that back these facts. For example, you might include national statistics or outline facts from consumer oversight bodies. A word of advice, though, always use verified sources. In addition, lay down the fact upon which you can base a strong argument that will aid in the problem solution.

While laying down the facts, define the situation as it is, whether good or bad. Be candid and blunt with the facts even if they are not pleasing.


Identify a Target Audience

Problems and issues usually affect a specific individual, group, or organization that is involved in business. At this point in writing your problem statement, identify the target audience. The target audience should be one that is directly affected by the issue. For example, in the case of startups, lack of distribution channels might be a probable challenge. Thus, target audience here are the distributors. The principal target audience is the prospective customers.


Generate Alternatives

Alternatives here are probable ways in which the problem could be solved. Alternatives should be analyzed with the sole purpose of identifying the one that is the closest to solving the problem. For example, if the startup is facing a problem of distribution of its products, possible alternatives that one could generate could include:

  • Creating more branches

  • Approaching a large scale distributor

  • Increasing the mobility of personnel

Among these alternatives, the suitable one has to be chosen with regard to cost and the accruing benefit. The one which will bring a lot of benefit at the lowest cost is the best.

Suggest a Probable Solution

The ultimate purpose of writing a problem statement is to get a solution. Define a specific timeframe in which the problem should be solved and an estimated cost of implementing the solution. In addition, mention challenges that might be encountered during its implementation. A word of advice, though, you should not go into too much detail. Leave the finer details for when you start to write a project plan.


What Are The Considerations In Writing A Problem Statement?

You will need to write a draft before writing the actual statement. This will enable you to fully capture and visualize what you will write.


There should be a strong connection between the problem and the context. This will enhance objectivity. You should emphasize on the issue at hand and give it utmost attention. The issue should be left the ringing in the minds of those who read the statement.


Pose questions. They should concern what is happening. For example: Based on statistics and the market information, what is the best distribution strategy for a certain product?


Remove personification. The problem statement is not about you even though you are the one who is giving the solution to the problem. It should be about an issue that’s relevant to the particular marketplace it’s meant for. Thus, refrain from using such words as ‘I or we’ in your problem statement.


When carrying out your Initial Research, do it carefully and objectively. Even if you are well versed in the area, do not rely only on your knowledge.


Another factor to be considered is the needs of your audience. Have their needs at the back of your mind. It might help you in writing a better problem statement.


The W’s

This might be cliché but it drives the point home. The W’s that we’re talking about here are: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

Basically, what you should consider is:

  • Who it is that the problem will affect

  • What the problem is likely to bring if not solved

  • Where the problem is rampant

  • When the problem should be addressed

  • Why it is important to solve the problem


Benefits of Writing a Problem Statement

For startups, writing a problem statement is actually beneficial in a number of ways.

First, it can help you to focus all your energy on creating real solutions to real problems that your business will face. Startups in the initial phase of operation have a lot of activities. As a startup owner, you may get lost in them and get distracted from various problems that are likely to surface.


Second, a problem statement gives you no choice but to remain alerted and focused on certain issues that will affect you; that is if they have not yet started to affect you. Therefore, you are better placed than a startup owner that has not written a problem statement.


Lastly, a problem statement is a good tool for time management because you do not waste time, effort, and resources on issues that are not part of your main goal.


A good problem statement should sound like this:

‘The problem of distribution of goods and services for certain startup companies in minor industries is quickly putting the businesses down as fast as they came up. The impact being a loss of revenue. A viable solution would be creating more branches to cover a wider area so as to reduce the distribution of goods.’


Every startup owner should consider writing a problem statement for their business. It is not an uphill task. In fact, you could verify it and check in a proofreading service if you are not sure about its format. A proofreading service will ensure that the words you used clearly bring out the message you’re trying to put across.

The benefits of writing a problem statement far outweigh the costs. Write one for your startup today.

Edited by loriwade
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