The reason for the existence of most businesses is to offer a solution to a customer problem. Starting and running a business involves solving problems as well. Becoming good at problem-solving is a learnable trait and having a methodical system for it will help you to make good decisions.

1. Define the Problem Clearly
The first step to solving a problem is to clearly define it. Understanding the issues helps you to see if there is really a problem at all, and if there is, you will be better prepared to solve it. Also, look for problems that re-occur. Having clarity about the problem will also help to prevent small problems from becoming large ones.

2. Find the Root Cause of the Problem
Once you have identified the problem, find the root cause of it. It is important to understand the difference between the symptom of a problem and its root cause.

For example, if you are not making enough sales, that can be a symptom of the root cause of not doing enough advertising or needing a more effective sales process.

3. List Possible Solutions
List as many possible solutions as you can so that you increase the chance of finding the best options. Asking others for suggestions will often give you ideas that you would not have thought of on your own since people have different perspectives, knowledge, and experience.

You can even combine ideas to create unique solutions. With your chosen solution, aim to satisfy the interests of everyone relevant to the solution as much as possible.

4. Evaluate Your Possible Solutions
List the advantages and disadvantages of each possible solution to find the one that is the best fit for solving your problem. Avoid choosing solutions that may result in more problems down the road.

Consider whether your problem is one that needs to be solved immediately, can wait a while or needs a quick temporary solution until you can find a permanent solution. It is best to solve problems as soon as possible because waiting can cause the problem to grow, which can increase your costs.

5. Create an Action Plan
How will your solution be implemented and who will be responsible for implementing it and monitoring its success? Write this down and schedule the actions that need to be taken.

6. Check the Results
Make sure that the solutions to the problems are implemented and check the results. In some cases, you might try a certain solution for a specified amount of time, such as two months, to see how the solution works. Also, if conditions change in the future, you may need to revisit the problem and solution and find a new solution.

A coach can help you to identify problems in your business and to find the best solutions for your circumstances.

Ralph White
Business Coach, Author, Artist & CEO
310.372.8538 | | Contact

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