Business Problem Solving Techniques
- Completion time About 15 minutes
We’ve talked about how your business idea should solve consumers’ problems, but what about problems that arise inside your business? How can you solve the problems that pop up over the course of running your business?
Problem solving can be done many different ways, but a few key steps will always help you find the best solution. In this section, we’ll discuss what steps to take to kick start your problem solving and how to address some common problems you might face
General Problem Solving Techniques
1. Identify the problem
It seems obvious, but the most important step in finding a solution is to correctly identify the problem. It’s hard to start solving a problem if you can’t put your finger on exactly what’s wrong.
Is the problem concrete – like profits that are lower than your goal or revenue that’s trending down – or more intangible – like disagreements with a cofounder?
2. Describe the cause
Knowing what the problem is is only half the battle. It’s also important to understand what’s causing the problem. One problem can be caused by multiple things, so the most effective solution takes the cause into consideration. Determining the cause might even help to make the right solution more obvious.
For example, if your manufacturing productivity is dropping, it could be caused by unproductive employees or malfunctioning machines. Your solutions will vary widely based on which you determine to be the cause of the problem.
3. Brainstorm solutions
It can be tempting to go with your first instinct when it comes to problem solving, but you need to fight the urge. This is when you should really get creative. Try to identify as many solutions as possible, so you have a wide variety to choose from. Weighing the pros and cons of multiple options will help you find the best alternative, not just an adequate solution.
4. Implement a solution and monitor results
Once you’ve outlined the different solutions, you can choose the option that will be most effective for your business. In the ideal situation, you implement a solution and it works seamlessly. In reality, the first solution you try may not solve the problem completely. That’s why it’s important to continue to monitor the issue until you’re satisfied that it’s been solved to your satisfaction.
Starting your own business is an adventure, and many of the problems you face will be unique to you and your company. There are, however, a few themes that tend to be common issues for small business owners.
As a new business owner, taking risks may not come as second nature, but it’s a necessary evil. In order to successfully run a small business, you’ll need to get a comfortable with taking risks here and there.
Financial risk is the most obvious kind, but being an entrepreneur entails many different kinds of risk. When you decide to hire an employee, that’s management risk. When you narrow in on one niche versus a broader target, that’s market risk
The key to risk-taking is research. It’s much easier to be comfortable taking risks if they’re calculated risks. If you know all of the possible outcomes, the pros and cons of each, you can decide whether or not certain risks are worthwhile. Knowing the potential rewards and odds of success will help you get more comfortable with the necessary risks.
There’s competition in every industry, but some are more relentless than others. Competitors can be the main problem standing between your product and a successful business.
The key to beating the competition is to differentiate yourself. Trying to copy everything competitors do is a losing battle, so choose one factor to excel at. For example, you can work on being the customer service leader in the industry or having the most reliable product.
The foundation behind differentiation is a knowledge and understanding of your competitors and what they have to offer. Subscribe to their blog to see what kind of content they’re publishing, purchase their product to in-depth how it compares to yours. You can even invest in a marketing intelligence platform to see how your company stacks up.
Whether it happens too slowly or too quickly, growth can be a huge problem for small businesses. While having too many customers can sound like a good thing, if you can’t meet their needs, your business will suffer.
Dealing with growth is best done in advance. Before your company starts taking off, make sure all of your processes are scalable. Don’t implement anything that you can’t maintain at a much higher volume.
Dealing with a lack of growth can be done by re-evaluating your business and what you have to offer. If you’re confident in your offering, just keep plugging away and making customers happy. Growth will happen naturally.
No matter who you are, you can count on facing plenty of problems when it comes to running your business. By getting comfortable with and mastering problem solving from the get-go, you can set yourself up for a much easier road to business success.