No, problems won’t take care of themselves, but if you spend most of your time trying to solve problems you will never get to the opportunities. Problems have to be solved but they are in the order of damage control and not in producing new business. The best way to solve problems is to tackle the issue when it occurs. Unfortunately, problems are usually unpleasant experiences and human nature dictates that we should postpone addressing the problem.
The ideal way to focus on opportunities is to eliminate problems. Unfortunately, even the best run operation will have problems, so attend to them immediately.
Now let’s focus on opportunities. There are three things that must be considered when selecting from a list of opportunities:
- Which one offers the highest return based on investments of time and dollars
- Which is the easiest to implement with existing capabilities
- Which one is the safest, less risky, opportunity?
Most businesses see what they perceive as a tremendous opportunity and rush into it without any analysis of the three factors mentioned above. Emotion and idealism takes over and the rush is on to start the new project. It may be hard for a small business owner to overcome the vision of greatness presented and to step back and analyze the issue. My suggestion is to take a day with your management team (it may be only you in the case of a small business) along with your business coach and address the three issues.
One reccurring problem that many small businesses have is “this opportunity does not cost much”. I hear this when it cost only several hundred dollars, for example, to try a new type of advertising. There is no such thing as “an inexpensive opportunity” that can bypass the analysis. In businesses, especially in today’s economy, cash is king and it should be treated with respect.
If the opportunity passes the three question criteria, then the next phase is to put a detailed plan together for its implementation. I use a list of 20 plus questions that we have developed that will both reassess the opportunity as well as help lay out measureable objectives.
Those who understand Strategy move without delusion and progress without tiring. Hence the saying: “Know the other and know yourself.” Sun Tzu
Nick J. Petra CFP Visit our home page at www.strategicduck.com and sign up to receive our daily blog directly in your mailbox.
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