Download Our Free ‘Start A Business’ Guide

Use our “Impact Entrepreneurship” checklist to start your business and make the world better.

Startup Ideas: Problem Solution Framework

In most cases, the reason you’re starting a business is because you’ve identified a problem and want to develop a solution. 
Most professional investors like to think in terms of a problem solution framework but this is not just an important issue for raising capital. The viability of your entire business depends on it.
These are the critical questions you need to answer:
  • What is the problem you’re trying to solve? Some people call this the problem statement.
  • How painful is the problem?
  • What is the solution?
  • How effective is the solution?
  • What is unique about your solution?
So, let’s talk about these important questions in more detail then I will give you an example so that you can put it all together.
Now, let’s get into it.

Startup Ideas: What is the problem you’re trying to solve?

You need to start by writing a clear problem statement.
This is all about clarity.
If you’re planning on getting co-founders or investors you need to be able to describe the problem you’re trying to solve in order to get them interested.
Some problems are easy to explain and some aren’t.
Don’t assume that these people are from your industry and will instantly understand the problem and keep in mind that, if they don’t understand the problem, they obviously won’t join you or invest in your business.

Startup Ideas: How painful is the problem?

What are the consequences of the problem?
The most common pain points are time and money but there are a lot of others that can be equally, if not, more painful:
For example, some people want to lose weight because the health consequences include major illness or death.
Everybody wants to avoid death. Some of them hate the way they look. Why did I use the word hate?
A big percentage of people that are overweight just feel indifferent about it so they won’t do anything about it.
The people that hate the way they look are obviously more motivated to do something about it.
Now, I’m not making a comment on whether they should hate the way they look.
I’m just recognizing how they feel about themselves.
I’m also not assuming that the solution for these people is to lose weight.
If you have a background in psychology you might decide to create a solution that involves making these people feel better about themselves and not hating their way look even if they don’t lose any weight.
Either way, the more painful the problem, the more people need your solution.

Startup Ideas: What is the solution?

Write a cohesive statement that outlines your solution.
Again, this is about clarity.
Don’t assume that people understand your industry or the experience of your potential customers.

Startup Ideas: How effective is your solution?

If you’re not concentrating, this is the part where you need to start concentrating.
You need to be able to answer this critical question.
How good will life be for your customer after their problem is solved and how bad will it be if the problem is not solved? The bigger the distance between these two answers the more value you’re creating for your customer.
This is the most critical concept that you need to understand when developing a product or service.
It’s the most important question that needs to be answered when you’re trying to figure out whether your idea is any good.
Now some of you might be thinking about creating products or services in industries like fashion or entertainment and gaming so let’s address this now.
Every time I hear an academic or an advisor talk about this problem/solution concept they can never explain why products and services in the fashion and entertainment world succeed.
These products and services are obviously discretionary.
Customers don’t need them.
The thing that the academics and advisors are missing is that the word “need” can have a broader definition that includes things that people are passionate about.
If people are genuinely passionate about something then they obviously need it.
The important point here is that your objective should be to develop a product or service that allows you to tell your customers that life will be horrible without your product and it will be incredible with your product.
Your marketing message will be very easy to create if this is true and it will be very difficult to create if it’s not true.

Download Our Free ‘Start A Business’ Guide

Use our “Impact Entrepreneurship” checklist to start your business and make the world better.

Startup Ideas: What is unique about your solution?

Customers need a reason to pick you.
Pretend to be a customer and figure out what it would take for you to buy your product instead of your competitor’s product.
There are some obvious things you can do to make your product unique.
The reason you need to do this is that competing on price alone creates a race to the bottom.
If there’s something unique about your product that people value, you don’t have to compete on price because people that need your unique feature can only get it from you.
There’s also an obvious point that follows from this: it would ideal if the unique value that you’re offering was something that is difficult for your competitors to offer.
I’m not saying this is easy.
In fact, it’s very difficult, but, if you can pull it off, you’re much more likely to succeed.
If you think this content is valuable or maybe just entertaining, click the like button.

Startup Ideas: Example

Let’s use the social networking part of the iimagine platform as an example.
This is the problem (and you can think of this as the problem statement):
Business owners want to increase revenue by promoting their business but advertising is expensive and search engine optimization, organic social media, and building an email list are all very slow.
So in this example, everyone can understand that businesses want to increase revenue and everyone understands that they will do it by promoting their business everyone understands that the usual strategies for promoting a business are either expensive or time-consuming.
How painful is the problem?
Let’s answer the question by using the framework I outlined earlier.
How bad will life be if the problem is not solved and how good will life be if it is solved?
So, how bad can life be for you as a business owner if you don’t enough revenue problem?
Well, you might have to fire employees, pay yourself less money, spend less time with your friends and family, default on a loan, walk around in a permanent state of stress, close the business or declare bankruptcy and deal with the shame that comes with failure.
So, how painful is that? Well, on a scale of 1 – 10, it has to be 10.
Now, how good can life be if the revenue problem is solved?
You can hire more people and expand, pay down debt, pay yourself more money and use it to buy things that make life better for you and the people that are most important to you, help your community, maximize your impact, and enjoy the respect that comes from success.
So, how good is that on a scale of 1 – 10? It has to be 10.
What is the solution (and you can think of this as the solution statement)?
Business owners can promote their businesses for free and get quick results by partnering up with other business owners and cross-promoting their products to each other’s customers and followers.
Now, let’s analyze the solution a little more.
How effective is the solution?
Finding business owners that will agree to this arrangement is difficult and time-consuming but iimagine will build a network of interested business partners for you for free and without you spending any of your time.
This is what allows businesses to increase revenue quickly and easily without spending any money spending.
This is exactly what every business owner wants.
What is unique about the solution?
Right now, there is no other platform that will build a network of partnerships that can be used for cross-promotion for business owners.
Now, for those of you that are actually building a business you should be interested in this so let me quickly explain how it works in 30 seconds:
  • Signup for a free account. 
  • Go to social network and go to the profile section.
  • Check the boxes that match your objectives
  • That’s it! The algorithm will match you with other people that meet your criteria and send you a notification. You can review their profiles and connect with them.

If you decide that you want to move to the next stage with your idea development,

Your customer persona alone will not generate revenue you will need to do competitor research (and complete a competitive analysis) so that you can develop a unique selling proposition
iIf you have developed version one of your solution and you want to validate your idea, check out this article from Entrepreneur.

Download Our Free ‘Start A Business’ Guide

Use our “Impact Entrepreneurship” checklist to start your business and make the world better.

  • Adam Radly

    Founder of IIMAGINE. More than $100M raised. TEDx Talk about passion > 1 Million views. Founder of World Reconciliation Day with Nelson Mandela. Founder of One Direct Democracy.