Blog post

Successful entrepreneurs don’t just solve problems, they redefine them

October 24, 2017Reuben Singh

In business, we all run into problems.

Sometimes the problems we run into are like brick walls – there’s seemingly no way to get around them.

It could be lack of interest in your product.

It could be a bigger competitor taking all your business.

It could be regulations stopping growth.

For some businesses, they will never overcome these problems – which is why so many businesses fail in their first year.

Why then do some businesses soar where others fail?

They know how to solve the unsolvable problems.

Solving the unsolvable problems

In business when a problem seems like it has no solution, you’re simply asking yourself the wrong questions.

By asking yourself the same thing over and over again, you paint yourself into a corner until it feels like there’s no way out.

By redefining the problem and asking yourself a different question, you open up whole new avenues of possible solutions.

Here are some of the best ways to redefine a problem.

Loosen the parameters

Sometimes you’ll identify a problem, and you’ll know how you want to fix it.

You try time and again to implement this fix but nothing is working.

Perhaps it’s time to loosen the parameters of the question.

Let me explain.

Imagine your product isn’t selling as well as you’d like it to. You realise conversion is fine, and it is marketing that is letting the process down.

You know who your target audience is, so you start brainstorming ways to engage them better.

You ask yourself the question “How do we make our product more attractive to our target audience?”.

You implement different ideas over and over again with no success, and you start to wonder if the product is just wrong.

Don’t blame your product, just loosen the parameters.

Instead of asking “how do we make our product more attractive to our target audience?” ask “how do we make our product more attractive in general?”.

By loosening the parameters of the problem, you greatly open-up the number of solutions that are available to you, in this example by broadening your possible audience.

Re-word the problem

Words are powerful things and they greatly affect our thoughts and feelings about a problem.

If a problem seems like it has no solution, try rewording it.

When we reword a problem, it helps our brain to come at it from a completely different angle, which will help us to find more solutions.

For example, you might be struggling with customer retention so you ask “how can we improve customer retention?”.

You come up with a couple of options but none of them have the desired effect.

That’s when you try rewording the question. For example:

  • How can we get customers to like us more?
  • How can we make ourselves essential for our customers?
  • What can we give our customers to make them stay?
  • Why are our customers leaving us?
  • What makes customers stay with a business?
  • Why have customers stayed with us in the past?
  • What makes our customers happy?
  • How can we get customers to tell us what to fix before they leave?

If you can answer all these questions, you have many more solutions you can try and implement which tackle the same problem in different ways.

Ask “why?”

If you’ve got a problem keep asking “why?”.

When you ask this over and over again it can help you drill down to a root problem that may exist in the business.

For example, if we take the earlier problem “we need to improve customer retention”.

“Our customers keep leaving us”.

“Because they’re not happy with the service”.

Why aren’t they happy?
“We don’t know why”.

Why don’t you know?
“Because we’ve never asked them”.

Why have you never asked them?
“Because we don’t do exit interviews when people leave”.

Why don’t you do exit interviews?
“Because they can cancel online without talking to anyone and then we can’t get in touch with them.”

From starting off with a big unsolvable problem, you now know exactly what your first step needs to be.

In this example, you could start by changing the system so they can only cancel over the phone, or invest in something like survey monkey so you can find out why they’ve left.

Flip the question

If you want something for your business – try flipping it, and you’ll discover all the things that could be preventing you from meeting your goal.

For example, you work in e-commerce and you’re having a problem with your products arriving damaged.

Instead of asking yourself how to reduce damages, imagine you want things to arrive more damaged.

“How can I make sure my products arrive more damaged?”.

Answers to this question could be:

  • Buy cheaper products
  • Buy cheaper packaging
  • Use less void fill
  • Get less skilled staff
  • Make staff unhappy
  • Get a less effective delivery service

From this list, you can look at areas to address to minimise the chance of products arriving damaged. Could your courier be improved? Are your staff unhappy and working carelessly?

Find out what could make the problem worse, then you’ll know what to fix.

Put it into practice

As an entrepreneur – it’s your job to solve the problems in your business whatever they may be.

By using these strategies and redefining the problems you face, you will have fewer unsolvable problems holding you back.

In time, this will help your business grow and reach the places you’ve always dreamed of.

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