In previous posts, we discussed the need to find the real problem your customer has. Find the urgent problem and build a solution that creates value. These are the fundamentals of a successful business.Therefore, we see this as an important step in your Startup Journey.
Digging deeper and understanding the problem context is typically an activity you do after you have talked to experts about your business idea. You learned from experts about the opportunities and challenges they see. You have tested your idea and are confident to move forward.
Now is the time to do a field research on your target customer and understand the problem they are facing, what the results are and impact it has on their lives.
Having a thorough understanding of the problem, the causes and consequences is key in helping you to meet the needs of the end user and build a successful solution around these needs.
Understanding your target customers by digging deeper into the problem you want to solve. You will refine the problem, understand the cause and learn the consequences.
With deeper insights about the problem you are better equipped to design a suitable solution. By understanding the context of the problem, you learn that your initial idea that triggered your Startup Journey will change. Hence, you might potentially have to let your initial solution go or pivot. At the end of this step, you have confirmed you will solve an urgent problem.
For the business model lovers: You will be applying the “The Problem Tree” and the 5 Why’s techniques to move your Start-up Journey to the next step. Understanding your customer is a typical activity in the “SELECT your customer” phase. The third step of the Innovation Curve and an important part of your Startup Journey.
The Problem Tree
The Problem Tree is a simple breakdown method, that gives deeper understand the problem. It maps out the direct and root causes. It is a useful tool to visualise the relation of different parts of the problem. The 5 Why’s techniques helps to explore the underlying problems. The essence is to ask Why several times. Each answer forms the basis of the next question. It is assumed that five iterations lead to the different root causes and give sufficient understanding.
Both tools combined make an important step in validating the solution you had in mind and helps design a better solution.
How to create your Root Cause analysis (your Problem Tree)
- You need: Download the template or sticky note whiteboard
- Duration: 20 Minutes to brainstorm and create 100 minutes to test with your target 5 customers
- Result: 2 to 3 versions of a problem tree
You want to get a deep understanding of the problem, causes and consequences. It is the key in helping you meet the needs of the targeted customers and build a successful solution around them.
Without this understanding, you will create a solution based on your best guess (assumptions). We see many startups fail because they deliver something they think their customers want. But turns out they are false assumptions.
For example: Imagine you are a restaurant chef. The waiter brings back an order for “food” with no further details. You make a cheeseburger with some fries and ketchup. You are happy with the result and prise yourself to be the best hamburger chef in town. Only to see the waiter return within 10 seconds. Your customer happens to be a toothless vegetarian who is allergic to tomatoes and potatoes. Hence, the false assumption of assuming all your customers like tomatoes and fries with their cheeseburger.
The lesson: you have to understand your customers, their problems and needs and put your great solution second.
The problem tree is a simple tool to help you understand the problem and helps you to design a solution that could prevent it. Or if prevention is impossible, you would need to design a solution that reduces the impact of the consequences.
Steps to create your Problem Tree
Step 1: Think of the conversations you had when pitching your idea to trusted friends and experts (1. START your business and 2. TEST your idea). Select the problem you want to address. If you have filled in the pitch canvas, look at the customer challenges.
Otherwise, ask yourself: What does your target customer want to achieve and what are the challenges in reaching the goal? What is difficult, blocking, a hassle?
For example: I want to lose weight but can’t. What’s blocking: Need to eat healthier, workout more, sleep more, have less stress, get hormones in balance, have more Vitamin D, have more proteins etc.
Step 2: As why these causes happen. If Need to eat healthier — > Why do you eat unhealthy? Is good food too expensive? Not available? Is it known what good food is? Etc.
Step 3: Select the causes you expect to be most important. Go one layer deeper and see if you can find the root cause. Constantly ask yourself why this problem is an issue. Repeat this for all the issues you have found until you have identified the root cause.
Step 4: Highlight the problems you can solve or consequences you can reduce. Redesign your solution
Next step: Test your solution with your target users. Read more about this in the problem interview blogpost.
How Will We Help?
Starting your own business can be an overwhelming process.
Building a startup is not simple; we managed to identify a pattern by helping many starters like you.
We call this curve the “Starters Journey”, a structured and systematic process for first time entrepreneurs.
We providing bite-sized information online explaining each step with:
- Tips & Tricks
- Activity Sheets
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