Have You Been Focusing on the Wrong Business Problem?
Don't waste time solving the easy problems, when it's probably the ones you've been avoiding that can change your business
A very brilliant friend of mine, who is a retired professor from the University of Kansas' School of Business, spent over 30 years studying how businesses and non-profit organizations improve themselves. His research revealed a startling fact:
People rarely choose the right problem to solve!
More often than not, the management teams he researched actually came up with great solutions to the problems they worked on. Unfortunately, those problems had no bearing on the overall performance of their companies.
Solving problems that aren't the biggest hurdle to your business' success, no matter how well you solve those problems, is not going to produce the improvements you seek.
If the problem you solve doesn't have leverage, you are wasting time, energy, and money. Worse yet, when you put a lot of effort into solving a problem and it doesn't improve your situation, you naturally assume that you came up with the wrong solution. So, you go back and try to solve the problem again. You may keep wasting time, energy, and money on that very same problem because you will be convinced that you are solving it wrong.
If you had chosen the right problem to solve, one that has leverage on your business' performance, even a less-than-perfect solution would have had positive impact. (For most contractors, that problem is often the distaste for selling.) You would have concluded you had come up with a great solution because of the great results! Time to move on to the next most important problem.
But how do you know which problems have leverage?
To give you some idea of how difficult picking the right problem can be, my friend identified 29 different processes that control how well a business performs. The leverage of each of the 29 differs for every company and situation. You've got to pick the right one to fix.
Here's a little search tip. Look closely at the problems that you have been avoiding. The ones you haven't been working on because you really don't want to face them. The big bad monsters hiding in your closet.
You can just about bet that one of them will be the one you need to work on the most. It will be the one that has the most leverage on your company's financial improvement.
To build your business, focus on the right problems. Not the ones that are fun to solve. Not the ones that create the biggest heartburn for you. Focus on the ones that will most improve your bottom line.
Ron Roberts is the owner of , a firm that works with contractors to organize a construction business with growth producing systems while developing sales, leadership, and financial management skills.