problem statement


By Lori Wade

A common mistake done by most businesses is that they tend to concentrate more on the solutions thinking that it would solve the problems. Yet, they end up having a lot of solutions that do not have the ability to stand their ground for long. One can come with a good design and solution only after validating the work. The process of coming up with the best problem statement is quite difficult in the case of a start-up, which may not have much experience of the same. David Cummings says that you need about 24 months to get the startup going, so how do you solve problems in the meantime?

Getting to Grips with the Problem Statement

The first step towards coming up with a great problem statement is acquainting yourself with the issue. Even if you start a business with no money, the problem should be described in a clear, brief, and concise manner. Some of the elements that can be included are the extent of the issue and the impact that it could have in the short and long term. Finally, a reason to solve the problem should also be given to provide a comprehensive picture. From here, the statement can move towards the touchy area of coming up with a solution to the problem.

Some of the key elements that a problem statement should possess are the purpose, extent, and need. The actual statement is the most important element, and it can be in the form of a declaration or question. However, it can be made more captivating and interesting to the reader by making sure that it sticks to the point and does not elaborate any further.

Performing the Research

The accuracy or the impact of the problem statement can be vastly improved if the writer is aware about the issue before the start work. It is of paramount importance that they conduct a thorough research on the various factors, which may be directly or indirectly responsible, that contribute to the problem. Only after an in-depth research into the various factors that they will be able to come up with a convincing material. Thankfully, a lot of avenues are available for research and they do not limit to online pages, articles, or business journals. While there is a huge amount of information available through the sources, they have to be taken into account only after verifying their authenticity.

Explaining the Problem

Once the problem has been identified, it is imperative for the write-up to be precise, direct, and brief. Our general thumb rule that can be followed with regard to this section is that it should not be more than five sentences long. This helps in keeping the section rather precise and eliminating any fluff.

Backing the Explanation with Facts

The precise and concise explanation may appear to be good on paper, but it is almost worthless if it is not backed properly with facts. A good research will provide the reader with plenty of facts that can be used to enhance the explanation. The statement should begin with information as to how the fact has a direct impact on the problem. It is even a good idea to go down the route of relevant statistics or figures in order to back those facts. Care should be taken that the facts used come from verified sources alone. Since the fact will be acting as the base for the argument, which in turn would be the problem solver, it is imperative to use facts that are 100% true with no assumptions involved.

Working Towards Pleasing a Specific Audience

While you should aim for the sky in business and try to be limitless, the problems or issues are usually focused towards a specific entity, which may be an individual or even in organisation, involved in that specific business. While coming up with the problem statement, you should focus on the target audience. This is the audience who would be directly impacted by the issue. In the case of a start-up, the distribution channels pose a significant challenge towards moving forward and helping identifying them before writing the content helps fine-tune the work. Since this target audience eventually becomes the prospective customer, the identification also helps in better content.

Working on Alternate Options

A problem can be solved in a number of ways and there is often not a predefined route. It is important to apply this general thumb rule in the world of problem statements for start-ups. Apart from identifying the root cause of the issue and coming up with a solution for a specific audience, the statement also has to through a number of alternatives. This helps keeping the audience quite satisfied. In this specific case of a start-up, the distribution channels appear to be the problem. While working up with the solution, alternatives like the possibility of appointing a large distributor or creating branches, or increasing personnel mobility can also be recommended.

The added advantage with recommending alternatives is the ability to compare costs and witnessing the benefits of choosing one over the other.

Coming up with the Solution

The alternatives are a great way to go down different routes, but the primary solution happens to rank quite high on the problem statement. Even though it is ideal if this section is compressed to within two or three sentences, there may be occasions where a statement has to elaborate on the same. However, it is extremely important to keep this section as brief as possible. For example, improving the database or the computer system memory can help clear up the distributor channel problems to a certain extent. The statement also needs to provide an estimate of the time taken to solve the issue, but this is only if it is applicable.

The statement can have a major impact, but it does not cause too much harm to not focus on the finer details. These elements can be expressed in detail while coming up with the project plan.

Points to Consider in the Problem Statement

The best approach towards coming up with a high-quality statement is preparing a draft, which will enable the writer to completely visualise and capture the essence of the content in a better manner. It is important to establish a strong link between the context and the problem so as to improve the objectivity. The draft should be prepared in such a way that the reader is always remained at about the issue at hand. This can be done by giving it the utmost attention in all aspects.

A great way to improve the attractiveness is by presenting the direct statistics and figures to quote the market size. For example, a start-up dealing with data centre can be given a size of the market that they are dealing with. Quoting figures like the annual growth rate of the data centre market and the potential business available for the start-up will help increase in attractiveness of the statement.

In order to avoid a mundane write-up, the draft can be prepared in such a way that it comes up with questions now and then so as to arouse curiosity and concern amongst the reader. In the case of a start-up, the draft can look like: after analysis of these market information and statistics, what happens to be the best solution for distributing a certain product? Coming up with such questions increases the engagement element.

Personification is not a desired attribute in coming up with a problem statement, as it often tends to imply that the reader or the writer is causing the problem, which is not the case. Hence, it is preferred to completely avoid personification in the case of these write-ups. Avoiding pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘We’ is a good start towards eliminating this aspect.

The audience should always be kept in mind while coming up with the problem statement. For added accuracy, it is best to avoid assumptions and going deep into the research – even if the topic is familiar.

Problem Statement Advantages

A problem statement is of huge advantage to a start-up as it can help concentrate all of the energy on the elements hampering the growth in day-to-day activities and in the long term. In the initial stage, start-ups will have a lot of activities and this can be a huge bottleneck. The person who runs the business may be distracted by the problems on the surface and can be unaware of the deep-rooted issues. Apart from identifying the real problem, this statement will be providing a solution to the same.

It also inadvertently helps a business administrator remain on the toes as far as solving the issue is concerned. The statement will alert the administrator about the issue – even if it is a deep-lying problem – and keep them on their toes. The statement can also act as a great way to manage time, as the business will not be wasting time and resources on elements that do not have a major impact on the growth of the start-up. The effort will be spent on fine-tuning the existing problems rather than expanding at a time when there are some major issues.

An ideal problem statement will be:

Start-up companies are suffering from distribution problems for their goods and services. It is starting to affect the businesses by creating a lot of lost revenue. A solution would be to increase the number of branches to cover a greater area and improve the distribution process.

Every start-up business should consider a problem statement, which may sound like a complex issue but it is certainly not the case. There are plenty of services available that would help come up with the best problem statement for a start-up. The benefits of this statement are far greater than the costs associated with writing one, as it can help the start-up grow in the longer run by identifying the bottlenecks and coming up with the solutions.

Lori Wade is a content writer for EliteEssayWriters who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level like we all do. If you are interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her on other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!