Every day, entrepreneurs will face problems in a variety of different areas, from customers and marketing to supplies and manufacturing. Sometimes, the problems are mundane (such as providing the office with comfortable chairs, for example). Other times, entrepreneurs must tackle larger issues, such as how to pivot to compete with a new product released by a competitor.
These situations require different approaches and necessitate thinking outside of the box. Read on for seven problem-solving skills that can help entrepreneurs—and their business—succeed:
As an entrepreneur, you will get better at prioritization over time, but this skill is typically refined only through hard-learned lessons. Prioritization helps entrepreneurs discern which problems need immediate attention and which can be put on the back burner for the time being.
Sometimes, you will also need to determine if certain problems are simply not worth solving, even if you have already invested significant time and resources into them. If continuing to pursue the issue will only waste more valuable time and resources, perhaps it is time to focus on something different.
Few problems can be truly solved until you get to the root cause of the issue. When you simply put a band-aid on it, you could become overwhelmed down the line when the same issue arises again.
This is where curiosity comes in. Curiosity will allow you to get to the root cause of any issue, from everyday problems in the office to the larger problems in your industry. Figuring out a solution to these problems can drive innovation, resulting in a market-changing product or service.
Many people will say that entrepreneurs need to focus on the big picture. However, focusing solely on the big picture may mean that you ignore the smaller issues at hand.
As a skill, focus means being able to zoom in and out when considering a problem. While getting the big picture is important, the successful management of a problem often relies on discerning the smaller details involved. You should not be afraid to get in the thick of problem solving and deal directly with the smaller details while not losing sight of the bigger picture.
Entrepreneurs frequently struggle with decisiveness when it comes to problem solving. Nowadays, they also have a great deal of data about the issue to consider, and these insights may point them in different directions. Ultimately, they will need to choose a direction and stick with it.
If you appear fickle, you may lose the respect of your employees or, in what could be even more catastrophic, end up costing your company a lot of money. If you find there are many possible solutions, you will need to be able to choose the best one quickly so that your team can start implementing the plan and you can move on to a different issue.
While entrepreneurs often have ultimate decision-making powers, that does not mean they are alone. The best entrepreneurs pull on the various strengths of their teams to figure out the best solutions. One person simply does not have the time to tackle all of the issues that will arise, so delegation is critical for success—as well as for avoiding burnout.
When delegating, you should make it clear what the problem is and what kind of solution you envision, and then entrust your team to make it work. Micromanaging your employees will only lead to exhaustion for both you and them. If you feel like you cannot trust your team to execute the task properly, then you need to hire new people.
A study conducted by TalentSmart found that 90 percent of top performers excel in managing their emotions when under a lot of stress. If entrepreneurs let their emotions get the better of them, they can become reactive to situations and make poor decisions.
When faced with a pressing situation, you will need to remain unflustered so that you can step back and think logically about the situation. Logic will help you make the best decisions and ensure that you are not guided primarily by fear, anger, or other powerful emotions. Also, when you succumb to your emotions, you may lose the respect of your employees.
Solving a problem often means pivoting several times to get to the best solution. Entrepreneurs need to be adaptable enough to abandon a path when it no longer seems feasible, even if they have invested a lot of time and energy into it.
Being adaptable means reassessing a situation frequently and considering whether other options may produce better results. You should always have several backup plans and be ready to act on them should anything go wrong. Some of the most successful companies in history have changed their focus several times. For example, Nokia was originally a paper company that later sold rubber tires before deciding to focus on phones.