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Problem-solving skills for small businesses

Solving a problem needs a tactical approach.
Solving a problem needs a tactical approach. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

Problem-solving skills are extremely important in life and more so in business. Problems are often opportunities in disguise, and they are almost always portals for learning.

A methodical approach based on business problem-solving steps increases the odds of developing long-term solutions that can satisfy management, employees and customers.

Following a clearly delineated set of problem-solving strategies can stop you from making decisions that are not in the best interest of the business, customers or investors.

When it comes to problem-solving, each situation is different and therefore requires a different approach each time.

Part of being a great problem solver is knowing how to evaluate each situation and look at outcomes on a holistic level, analysing how your solutions will affect you or the business in the long term.

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Once you find yourself in a deep problem, you simply need to evaluate the situation and apply these skills. You will be surprised at how some of the things you perceived as tough actually turn out to be straightforward.

Define the problem: When you understand which aspect of a situation needs to be untangled and addressed, you position yourself to get to the heart of the issue rather than wasting time addressing irrelevant concerns.

Dissect the problem: Most problems present themselves as specific situations that have spiralled out of control but a problem may be short or long-term, and it may be confined to a single person, or it may be widespread. If you include more variables in your analysis, you increase the odds of addressing a problem in a holistic and comprehensive way.

Critical thinking: When in a problem, most of us tend to make decisions in a hurry. We simply execute the first idea that comes into our minds without taking the time to think about the issue at hand.

Critical thinking is the process of taking your time to digest the issue at hand logically before making a judgment. Using this skill, you will analyse all the factors that are related to the problem and come up with a suitable and satisfactory conclusion.

Lateral thinking: This is the ability to think outside the box when solving problems. Imitators have a one-dimensional view of life and tend to think that solutions to one problem will work for everything.

Innovators, on the other hand, believe in thinking differently about problems. It has to do with asking several questions about the issue and making solid conclusions that lead to good solutions.

Initiative: This is central to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Not only is it important in terms of customer acquisition, it helps when you have to solve a problem. Proactive entrepreneurs are always looking for new ways to do things, to communicate with their staff and to improve their product or service, inadvertently reducing the risk of having problems in the future.

The initiative of an entrepreneur is developed over time and it shows that you are passionate about your product and determined to succeed; qualities that investors love to see.

Any good problem-solver knows how to research, find similarities between themselves and others and use their initiative to seek out good solutions to problems and part of being a good problem-solver is your ability to keep going regardless of how many times you fail.

Persistence: This is a key trait of successful people. As we had mentioned, problems come in different ways, some are technical and some are financial. In most cases, the more complex the problem, the more critical thinking and persistence required. Being persistent does not necessarily mean doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

ou have to be wise in your decision making and determined to achieve the best outcome through constant evaluation.

Flexibility: This is the ability to be open-minded and open to new opportunities and change. You should be able to change your mind to suit different situations or circumstances. When trying to solve a problem, not all the solutions that you try out will work. Some can backfire and leave you quite frustrated.

By being flexible, you will be able to apply different solutions to solve an issue. This is far much better than sticking to a single solution that is not yielding any fruits.

Self-discipline: Regardless of how good you are at solving different problems, your efforts may not bear fruit if you don’t have self-discipline. This is the ability to control yourself and remain focused on finding the solutions to the problem.

By being self-disciplined, you will be able to remain on the right path without being distracted by any external factors. This skill will also help you to be fully committed to finding the best solutions each time.

These skills come in handy whenever you are in a tricky situation.

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