“Through the pursuit of greatness I have learned that my mind can be my greatest friend or may be my greatest adversary, but the mind of a trusted friend has always been the great negotiator of the two” -Unknown
I hope you got some great value out of steps one and two. I am sure that there were a few readers that read one and two and said, “I am going through something right now, and I need answers.” Never fear steps three, four and five are here.
Just in case you haven’t read my first post where I laid out steps one and two go back and read that right now before diving into this post. It will bring you up to speed and this post will make a lot more sense.
In step one I discussed that when you are confronted with a challenge, the first question should always be, how can we automate this? I went through an example that we went through as RTA was growing regarding distribution and market diversification.
In step two I encouraged you to get the facts first before making a decision. I also shared an excellent technique that helps to expose all aspects of the challenge at hand. And just for fun, I will do it again, with questions regarding my first post:
- Who did you tell to read the first post?
- Where were you at when you read it?
- When did you read it?
- How much value did you get from reading the post?
- And what is the number one thing you got from the last post?
STEP 3: VET THE PROBLEM AND THE POTENTIAL SOLUTION BY OTHER PEOPLE
I can’t begin to count the number of times I have been faced with a problem, and the moment I ran it by someone I trusted, their feedback almost immediately led to the solution I had struggled with for a long time.
Often as business owners, we think that we have to be the ones that come up with the answer. I have seen this amongst entrepreneurs, and early in my career, I was guilty of this too. It is something I have to monitor continually. I can make a quick decision when I need to, but I have developed the habit of running my ideas and the challenges I face by some of my team, trusted friends, mentors and members of my mastermind group.
Almost every great business leader I have read about always mentions that they surrounded themselves with talented people. So just by simple deduction, you know that even though they were the mastermind behind the successful product or service, they had support along the way that contributed to their company’s success. The same applies to me.
On the days when I am faced with an obstacle that needs to be addressed, which by the way is almost every day after I find out if the solution can be automated and I get all the facts, I will invariably ask three questions to whoever I run it by.
- What am I missing? – The second pair of eyes or ears will always give a little different perspective or angle on something, or expose where you may have a blind spot.
- What am I overlooking? – Now, this is tied in closely with what you are missing; the key sometimes is to ask the same question just using different words.
- What would you do if you were in my shoes? I don’t always ask this question but when I do it is usually to my mentor or another leader. This question is a judgment call; you’ll learn when this is an appropriate question to ask.
By asking people that are familiar with the problem especially one’s that you have a working relationship with you are not only going to get an answer, you are also going to empower your team to assist more in solving these sometimes complex issues. In other words, you will be training your team to answer these questions and solve them on their own even before you are made aware of it. Efficiency is like depositing money in the bank.
STEP FOUR: LOOK AT SOLUTIONS THAT ARE OUTSIDE THE BOX
This is probably the hardest one to explain. As a leader or owner, you are taxed with many decisions that need to be made and once you have a challenge and found out if you could or could not automate it, got all the facts and run it by some of your team you need to decide on the solution.
This one comes with experience because sometimes the easiest solution isn’t always the best option in the long run. For example, the solution to a problem when your company is at 30 sales a day isn’t always going to be the best option for when you are making 300 sales a day. That is why it is important to think outside the box.
Another way to look at this is to ask yourself and your team to find another way. What has never been done before to address and solve the issue?
Another important tip is to remember that the answer may not come right away. The answer may not come during the meeting you have to discuss the problem or challenge. I understand that when there is a problem that you need to come with an answer or solution ASAP. But it is important to remember that forcing a solution on a problem can sometimes make the problem worse. The answer might just come a little later.
It has happened too many times for me to discount that the answer will come when you least expect it. I have been driving home or sitting at home watching a game when out of nowhere I get the answer. Or when I least expect it I will get a text or email or sometimes a phone call from one of my team that says, “Gary I think we have solved the problem!” It’s music to my ears.
STEP 5: DELEGATE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SOLUTION
One of my strong suites is the ability to come up with ideas and to strategize. Strategizing isn’t always coming up with the newest marketing campaign. Sometimes strategizing is what we have been discussing in the last two posts; solving problems.
Once I come to a favorable solution the next thing I do is to delegate it to one of my team members or outsource the solution to a trusted vendor.
Many times this can be difficult for an owner to do because many times there is a lot at stake if something goes wrong again and it is just naturally the persona of many owners to take control and finish it to the end.
Trust me there will be another problem that comes along for you to put time into. More importantly, your time is better served focusing on other areas of the company. You’re a leader trust your instincts and trust your people to implement the strategy or procedure necessary to get things back on track.
In any scenario, communication is always going to be one of the primary keys to solving the problem. Good communication will avoid the “Oh I thought you said you were going to do this,” or assuming something was done when it wasn’t. To prevent this from happening I have weekly meetings with my team to discuss the challenges that have taken place, the solutions we have come up with and the wins that came as a result of making corrections and adjustments.
Part of business growth and business success is always going to be determined by how you respond to the challenges that come up. Below are the 5 steps again:
- How can we automate this?
- Do we have all the facts? Get all the facts before making a decision.
- Vet the problem and the possible solution by other people.
- Look at solutions outside of the box.
- Delegate the implementation of solution.
The five steps I have outlined will lead to additional questions and further dialogue with you and your team. We understand that the issues and challenges you face may be unique to your industry or niche, regardless, these steps are universal and can be used as a foundation to go by. In my case, utilizing these five steps has resulted into revenue projections in excess of over $30 million for 2017. The year is over 17% complete and we are right on pace to meet this projection. I look forward to hearing how these five steps contribute to the success of your business.