Problem-solving skills are extremely valuable when running your own business, as you will have many different challenges to overcome. Problems can come in many different forms and sizes, but almost any problem can be solved by following a simple process. Follow this six-step plan to solve your business problems.
1. Define the Problem
The first step to finding a solution is to clearly define your problem. Aim to sum up your problem in as few words as possible, breaking it down into several smaller sections, if necessary. It’s important to be as specific as possible when defining the problem. For example, if you need to find funding for a business venture, write down the exact amount you need and create an itemized list of what you need it for.
2. Brainstorm Solutions
Use brainstorming to come up with as many potential solutions as possible. The key to successful brainstorming is to jot down all ideas that come into your head, no matter how unlikely or ridiculous they seem, as this helps to activate the creative part of your brain. Set a timer for 10 to 60 minutes, depending on the complexity of your problem, and focus completely on coming up with inventive solutions. Use a digital whiteboard if possible, as others can synchronously or asynchronously add their own brain dumps into a shared space to promote creativity.
3. Analyze Your Options
Look through your list of potential solutions and pick three or four of the most promising options. Draw up a list of advantages and disadvantages for each of your chosen options. Consider how difficult each option will be to implement, what resources you will need and any legal difficulties that may arise. You may also want to consider the potential outcomes of choosing each option, as there may be unintended consequences for your actions.
4. Choose a Solution
Use your lists of advantages and disadvantages to evaluate and choose the best available solution to suit your needs. You may need to consider several factors when weighing up potential solutions, such as the financial costs, how difficult it will be to achieve your aims, how long it will take to implement the plan, and how likely your plan is to succeed.
5. Create a Plan
Create a step-by-step plan for implementing your solution. Break your plan down into the smallest steps possible, making sure that each step is specific, realistic, and measurable in some way. Set dates and times for the completion of each step, as this will help to keep you on track. The more specific you can be when creating your plan of action, the easier it will be to stick to your targets and achieve your objectives.
6. Evaluate Your Plan
Once you have implemented and seen your plan through to completion, it’s time to evaluate how successful the plan was. If you managed to solve your problem, you can reward yourself and acknowledge your achievements. However, if your plan failed to achieve your objectives, you will need to revise your strategy. You may choose to stick with your original solution, making changes to the plan or adding extra steps and goals along the way. Alternatively, you may choose to start again using one of your other potential solutions from step three.
When faced with a business problem, you can find a solution by following a simple process. Define the problem, brainstorm solutions, analyze your options, choose a solution, create a plan and then evaluate your plan, as this is a simple, step-by-step way to overcome business challenges and obstacles.