Embarking on a startup journey is like exploring the unknown. It could feel like a quest with uncertainties and unpredictability. But a profound sense of discovery remains. It is about more than just finding out new information; it is about gaining a new perspective. As a startup co-founder, I have come to realise the importance of one tool that has helped me navigate this unknown territory: a well-defined problem statement.
A problem statement is a clear description of the user’s need that should be addressed.
- Chefadora’s Initial Challenges
- Redefining Our Approach
- How to Write an Effective Problem Statement
- Characteristics of an Effective Problem Statement
- In a Nutshell
More from ‘UX for Startups‘:
Chefadora’s Initial Challenges
When I first conceptualised Chefadora a few months ago, I thought I had a clear understanding of what I wanted to achieve. As a UXer, I was well aware of the concept of creating a problem statement. Surely we had one, but I now realise that it was superficial at best. Our focus was skewed towards the solutions and features we could offer, not the core issues and feelings our users were experiencing. Looking back, our product, although structurally sound, lacked a soul. As new startup owners with an eagerness to build, we lost sight of our guiding principle. Our initial approach was fundamentally flawed. We were building solutions in search of problems, not the other way around.
Facing stagnation in our growth, we implemented various strategies – enhancing our content and messaging, revamping our social media approach, and even spending more on marketing. Despite these efforts, the metrics remained unmoved, leading us to the realisation that our issue was more deep-seated, possibly stemming from a product design that wasn’t compelling users towards desired actions.
Redefining Our Approach
This prompted us to return to basics. We revisited our problem statement, and it was immediately apparent that it was rather shallow. This could have been due to our inexperience or perhaps our eagerness to jump into product development.
Resolved to delve deeper into the fundamental issues our users face, our subsequent brainstorming sessions brought to light a wealth of previously unconsidered ideas. We realised the pivotal role of a well-defined problem statement in shaping not only the product but also the sales and marketing strategies.
How to Write an Effective Problem Statement
Here is the methodology we followed to create our problem statement:
- Metric Identification: We began by pinpointing the exact metric that we were struggling with.
- Root Cause Analysis: Instead of merely treating the symptoms, we went in search of the underlying cause, performing a deep dive into the core of the issue.
- User Identification: This phase was about understanding our audience better. Who were the people truly affected by the problem? This insight helped us refine and narrow down our primary user base.
- Journey Mapping: By dissecting the user’s journey, we could identify the exact touchpoints where the challenges arose.
Characteristics of an Effective Problem Statement
During this process, I recognised a few fundamental attributes that a problem statement should and should not contain:
- A problem statement should not be a list of unrelated problems. The statement should be focused on one problem. It might be inefficient to tackle a lot of problems at once.
- A problem statement should not focus on solutions.
- A problem statement should be brief, a few sentences at best. All team members should be able to easily understand the key focus and what might be out of scope. It is best to discuss and re-draft the problem statement with others if needed.
Interestingly, a problem statement need not always be the Negative Nelly. It can be a powerful tool to highlight potential opportunities and growth areas.
In a nutshell
Our new problem statement is now more than just a declaration of intent; it is our north star. It helped us to realign our focus to our mission: solving real problems for real people.
So, here’s a piece of advice from one startup owner to another:
a comprehensive problem statement can make the difference between being lost and carving a meaningful path. Let’s focus not on finding solutions, but on uncovering the right problems.