Successful businesses share a common attribute: They do something useful for their customers. One way to determine what is useful for your customers is to identify and describe the problem that your business will solve. For example, a window washing service solves the customer’s twin problems of wanting clean windows but lacking either the time or physical ability to clean windows himself. If you accurately understand your customers’ problems and needs, your business will have a better chance of success.

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For example, here’s a problem faced by a customer of a pizza-by-the-slice stand: “I’m hungry and I don’t have much time or money, but I’m tired of hamburgers and want a change of pace. In addition, I’d like to be able to specify the exact ingredients I want in my meal. And, it would be really swell to have a glass of wine or beer with the meal.”

Now, think about your customers for a minute. What is the problem that you solve for them? Take a sheet of blank paper or open a computer file and write out your description of the problem your business solves for its customers. This statement will become part of your completed business plan.

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