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SaaS idea definition, part 2: The Problem

There are 5 essential parts to a well-formed SaaS idea. This post helps you define the problem.

This is a free 5 part series, taken from the opening section of my SaaS idea evaluation workbook, where we go through how to define your idea concretely.

There are 5 essential parts to a well-formed idea:

  1. Target audience. Who is your customer?
  2. Problem. The specific problem you’re trying to solve. (This post)
  3. Solution. How you will solve the problem. (Next post)
  4. Market. How 'big' is your market? (Coming soon)
  5. Business model. Simple revenue projection. (Coming soon)

Define the problem

Once you know your target customers, you need to define the problem you will solve for them. What is the specific problem you're going to solve?

Customers don’t care about your "idea". They care about problems that stare at them in the face daily. If you approach your customers telling them that you understand their problem and how you will solve it for them, they will listen to you.


  • Gumroad: Problem - charging for a digital product requires opening an online shop and is cumbersome or requires some technical knowledge.
  • Xnapper: Problem - creating beautiful shareable screenshots is tedious and takes a lot of steps.
  • Notion Forms: Problem - creating professional-looking forms to populate a Notion database is expensive and requires lots of technical knowledge.

There's nothing wrong with working on an "idea" for its own sake, or if it's something you really want to work on but be prepared to be the only customer of your product. Some product categories may also not have a specific problem to solve, e.g. games or social media.

But having a specific problem to solve would give your idea a clearer path to product-market fit and a better chance of success.

How to find problems

Here's how not to do it: guessing. If you don't know what problems your target customers are facing right now, don't just come up with something. This is why it's important to pick a customer segment you know well.

Here are three proven ways to discover problems:

  1. Solve your own problem. By far, this is the best way to know that the problem actually exists. And you already know how you want it solved. This doesn't guarantee that there will be other people with the same problem or that they will pay for it, but this is a market research topic that we cover in an upcoming updated edition of the eBook.
  2. The problem you're already solving. Perhaps it's a problem you're already solving at work. For example, you may have written a bunch of scripts to automate sizing and uploading social media images for your marketing team. Do your target customers have this problem too?
  3. Online forums. Places like Reddit, Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups are great sources of problems. If you see people complaining about or sharing "hacks" for specific problems, and they are getting a lot of engagement on these posts, then these could be potential problems for you to solve. Even better if the forum is relevant only to your target customer niche.

Personally, I would not recommend customer interviews at this stage of your business. Interviewing is a skill that takes time and practice to be good at. Poorly executed interviews will lead to misleading results. It is, however, a great tool for diving deeper into a problem and its solution, once you have found a problem to solve.

A problem definition helps with marketing

Having a clear problem to solve helps with your product's marketing. Especially with SEO.

How do you start searching for solutions to your problems? 99% of the time, you will ask Google. Usually, Google will present you with high-quality content or product that targets your problem right at the top of the search results.

Here's a real-world example: In Notion, creating a professional-looking PDF is impossible for anything beyond a basic page. This is particularly true if you want to generate PDF invoices.

So we created a solution for this problem with our SaaS, Notion Invoice. And we're constantly in the top 3 when someone searches for a solution to this problem:

"If a product doesn’t solve a problem, no one cares"
Michael Cho, Unsplash

Don't miss the next part: defining the solution to the problem. Out next issue.

Or get the whole SaaS idea evaluation workbook now. Only $9.90 and includes Google sheet and PDF templates. Get the eBook.