We go through ups and downs every day in personal and professional life. When it comes to launching your start-up, problems and challenges are an inevitable part of the grind. From raising funding to launching your website to accessing customers. The list is endless. Your role as an entrepreneur or a manager is to know how to tackle these problems and turn challenges into opportunities. Enhancing your problem-solving skills will boost your confidence to face these problems.
Problems faced by new businesses and start-ups
Starting a new business is courageous work. While some problems are a tough nut to crack others can be solved easily with some brainstorming. Even if you are planning to launch a large-scale business or to run a small store, there are some common problems you are likely to face. Being aware of them helps you stay on toes.
There is a time gap between when you start your business and when you start making money from it. It is essential to have enough pool of cash to sustain throughout that phase. There is always pressure regarding raising funds even if you are bootstrapping your way or raising capital through the stock market. Having cash reserves is important to ensure that the operations of your business are not affected.
Carving your brand name
Have you ever shifted to a new school where everyone already knows each other and you are the newbie of your class? Everyone is already aware who the naughty students are, the scholars, the monitors… and it is your time to carve your name and make a lasting impression. Similarly, in an industry, several businesses already exist before your entry. Here what you choose to do differently to create your brand awareness is a game-changer.
If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.
Hiring the right people for the right job
In a business, dreamwork is teamwork. The people you hire will be working towards building your dream with you from scratch. It is vital to ensure that they are on the same page as you are. Apart from their skills and qualifications, make sure that they have the same attitude and zest towards your business as you do. When people who are working for you have a different wavelength of thoughts than you, things can get difficult at times.
One of the biggest challenges a small business goes through is building its customer base. The art of selling is a skill that every business needs to master. Even the biggest brands in the world like McDonald’s, Apple, and Samsung invest tons of money in advertising and marketing to gain new customers. Getting new customers is one of the constant struggles of any business but more so initially. From giving their business a name to making it a household name is the ultimate goal of any entrepreneur.
Sometimes it is ‘too tiring’
The entrepreneur’s grind does have a fancy appeal to it but it all falls in vain some days. There will be days when hours and hours of work might not account to anything. During such times, it is okay to fall off the wagon due to emotional or physical fatigue. Take a break and allow yourself to relax before you start again. Being an entrepreneur is not a straight railroad but instead a rollercoaster ride. On the tough days, just remember that it is okay to pause.
Stages of problem-solving
Different teachers are assigned to the same noisy class. Some will punish the entire class; some might give remarks in the calendar while others might simply shout at the kids. Even though they all faced the same problem, they handled it differently. Similarly, in problem-solving, there are different approaches people use to solve the same problems. These problem-solving approaches no matter how different in nature, usually undergo the same stages listed below:
Defining the problem
You cannot find a solution to a problem that you do not know well. Clearly identifying what is the problem is the first step. Observing closely is important to know what problems your business is facing and in which area of it. Sometimes, some problems can be underlying while others couldn’t be more evident. Knowing vividly what the problem is will help you to know precisely where your focus is needed.
Analysing your problems is important to come up with solutions for it. The way you brainstorm your problems will turn the tables. The best way to find a solution is to think about it in both logical and creative manner. Take your time to find several ways to solve the same problem that you are facing. The best solutions are usually the ones that are well-thought rather than impulse ones.
Time to choose a winner
After brainstorming for hours or days, depending upon the problem, now you will have all the possible solutions for it. From the list of solutions or even the top three, it is time to choose the one. Here your decision-making skills are being tested. Carefully evaluate all the possible solutions and then choose the best one. Choose the one which is best for your business and everyone involved in it – your stakeholders, customers, and employees.
Time to put things in action
Once you have selected the solution, the last stage of problem-solving is implementing it. All the planning done in the above three stages will be implemented here. Make an action plan, hire the people you need to implement it and the execution begins. Oversee that things are going as planned to avoid giving rise to another problem.
We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.
- Albert Einstein
Problem-solving tips for small businesses
Starting a business in itself is a challenge. The way you face your hurdles will determine how long you and your business lasts. No one is a born problem-solving genius. It comes with lots of practice and trail-errors.
Have a positive mindset
A person’s mindset directly impacts his approach to a problem. If you have a negative mindset, you are likely to fixate more on the problem instead of the solution. Having a positive mindset will help you when everything fails. Some days can be frustrating and tedious and those days are a test of your mindset. You cannot expect positive results while constantly thinking negatively.
An impulsive, rash decision is likely to have an unpleasant consequence. Take your time to come up with a solution after thoroughly viewing all sides. Analysing a problem from all angles takes time. Weigh all the insights and inputs and then come to a well-thought solution.
When you alone are looking for ways to solve your problems, you only have a tunnel vision. Consider taking opinions of your team, you will witness different perspectives towards the same problem. A collaborative approach goes a long way in problem solving.
Transparency earns integrity
When you are running a business, you are answerable to several people be it your investors, customers or employees. Transparency leads to less problems in any association. Don’t try brushing your mistakes under the carpet but instead accept it. Great problem solvers own up to their mistakes and take responsibility.
Focus on what can be done
There are several factors while running a business on which you will have no control whatsoever like the economy, weather, government policies, and currency rates. Even though they are problematic for the business, you need to remember that you have no control over it. Focusing on things that cannot be controlled by you is a waste of your time and energy. Instead, think about what you can do about these problems. Focus on how you can use such information as an opportunity or minimise any negative impact.
Problems are a part and parcel of life and very much so when you are launching your business. It can be daunting but remember to take one day at a time. When the going gets tough, the tough keeps going. As humans, it is easy to forget about the big picture at times and obsess over your problems. During such times, think about the long-term vision of your business. Read our article ‘vision statement’ to know more about the impact it has on an entrepreneur’s journey.