Face Your Problems Before They Burn Your Business To The Ground
It’s not uncommon for people to act as if they are “too busy” or not “in the mood” to deal with a business problem, and while this can certainly be understandable at times, there are costs that come along with procrastinating.
The first and most obvious cost is the risk of an issue turning into a major problem in which you need to invest more time and money than what might have been necessary if it had been dealt with promptly. A second cost is that every day you wait is another day where your company haemorrhages money because it’s not operating optimally from a revenue perspective. Finally, procrastinating on a problem gives it the chance to build up and become emotionally draining as well.
It’s good to take action, but to ensure you’re taking the RIGHT action, consider these five “problem solving” tips:
1. Recognise that there is a problem and that problems are just bad situations that can be improved upon or eliminated. This point seems obvious, but for leaders it’s important to be vigilant and to make sure that you aren’t ignoring warning signs that the business is heading in the wrong direction. It can be difficult to see changes that could cause a collapse, but they do happen all the time.
Leaders who fail to recognise the warning signs and try to ignore them as “bad luck” can be shocked when they find out that the business has imploded. Accept accountability for fixing problems, even if it wasn’t your fault in the first place. When a problem occurs, people are far more likely to blame someone else than they are to step up and take responsibility for making things better and this often leads to disaster.
2. Do your research and understand the root of the problem. This is a key to preventing future problems because you will be better equipped to fix a problem if you can identify its source. If you can’t identify the root of the problem, you should probably seek outside assistance in the form of a coach, mentor or more experienced staff member.
Do your best to communicate your findings and proposed solutions, or a timeline for when you think they can be implemented, with all team members. This is where having a solid network of advisors and mentors comes in handy because their advice will help you to determine how to effectively communicate with others so that they are able to support you while also understanding why it’s important to focus on the problem at hand.
Take action on what seems like the smartest course of action for resolving the problem and keeping the business running smoothly.
3. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. If a problem is truly rooted in a bad or out-dated process, finding ways to improve it will always be in your best interest (and that of the business). The keys are to look for new and better ways, and to practice what you learn.
Be up front about what you’re able to do. Many leaders know they have problems but don’t recognise the extent of their ineptitude in solving these problems. Or, they believe that a change that is not a full-blown solution can be the best thing for the business because it will improve its performance in other ways, often without considering unforeseen negative consequences.
When you decide to initiate a change but don’t specify exactly which change is being made or when it will occur, people may not understand why you are pushing it so quickly and they might start to question whether it’s actually needed.
4. Acknowledge that problems create stress and fear in people. These emotions are what lead them to working hard to protect their income. Embrace the fear and make it your driving force. You need to acknowledge the stress, but don’t let it stop you from taking action.
Acknowledge that you have the skills and knowledge to overcome these emotions and turn them into positive energy. Remember that problems are often opportunities for growth, but you must take the risk to help make it happen. This is where your experience will pay off because it will help you to identify when an opportunity for growth is also an opportunity for failure if you aren’t prepared to handle it correctly.
If you do take action, be sure that what you’re doing makes sense or doesn’t change anything so much that the whole business suddenly drops off a cliff.
5. Finally, don’t engage in the “must-do-it-right-now” myth. This mindset is a dangerous one, which can lead to taking action prematurely on something that may not be fully thought through or considered without investing the time to truly understand what is behind the situation. It can also lead you to reactive actions, at the best of times, are usually the result of responding to the actions of others. For example, you might take reactive action in response to an clients aggression or to a random act of stupidity. Reactive actions can be emotionally and physically draining, and if dealt with poorly can damage your business or result in even worse issues.
The bottom line is that you should do to the best of your ability what you can (e.g. work out a solution) before unnecessarily starting something that may take time to complete or end up costing significantly more than it would have if you had done things right from the start., and you don’t want to be in a constant state of reactionary management.
In conclusion, the biggest problem solvers in business are the most successful entrepreneurs. The ability to recognise a problem and take steps to solve it as fast as possible is possibly the most important skill an entrepreneur can possess. When problems occur in business, you must solve them as quickly and efficiently as possible before they become major issues that can threaten the viability of you company.