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Business Management Hack: Problem Solving Basics Work!

Your business is in a slump. You know something's wrong, but you just can't pinpoint what it is. You can try to figure it out and make changes, but you still don't know if the changes will improve performance. So, perhaps, you take the easy route, which is to do nothing at all. Of course, this doesn't help the situation – your stress or company profits. When this happens, you worry more and the business doesn't get any better...what a vicious cycle! You can hire a business consultant or look into the problem yourself.


As an owner, you must realize that improving operations and increasing the bottom line is not an easy task and to do this takes time, discipline, planning, and action to achieve the desired results. Unfortunately, a business overhaul is not done overnight.

Some improvement measures can be implemented faster than others. Quick energy boosters might be just "what the doctor ordered." Give these techniques a try, and you might see forward positive momentum before you know it.

Follow-up – With so many things going on all the time in a business, it is easy to forget about one thing that is most important...following up on questions, commitments, or problems. Regardless of the situation – insignificant or significant – failure to properly follow-up can turn a small situation into a major problem with customers, suppliers, employees, or lenders.

When a problem surfaces, productivity is lost; therefore, the goal of any business is to keep problems to a minimum as much as possible. When problems are kept to a minimum, then productivity increases. Even though small business owners are always pressed for time, this cannot be an excuse for failing to follow-up on important details of the business.

Start today by recognizing the importance of properly following up on important business items. Don’t rely on memory to take action. Every morning, make a list of important items that need to be accomplished during the day. From a practical standpoint everything will probably not be accomplished, but at least at the end of the day many items should be marked off your list. The items still remaining can be the start of tomorrow's list. With a disciplined approach to follow-up, important items won't "fall through the cracks."

Attention to details – It's amazing in business how little things to one person are big things to someone else, especially, if that person is a customer or employee. Often times, small business owners can become so focused on one aspect of their business that they forget about other aspects that are equally if not more important – customers who bring in revenue and employees who produce or sell the products or services offered by a business. Don't lose sight of what's important to your business!

Do you see what others see in your business? Take the time to "trade places."

  • "What is it that customers like about my business?"

  • "What is it that makes customers go to the competition?"

  • "What is it that a prospect sees that will make them want to do business with me...or not want to do business with me?"

  • "What do employees like or dislike about working here?"

  • "Do I have an open-door policy with my employees when it comes to communication?"

Maybe, you should see what your customers see and how employees feel. Tasks, whatever they are, and the related details interact with each other. It is how these are handled that contributes to the efficiency or lack of efficiency in a business.

Standardize procedures – All businesses have procedures but to operate with the most efficiency, procedures must be standardized and executed the same way all the time by employees who perform the particular function. Procedures should be constantly tested for performance and efficiency. Although procedures are a must to have in a business, they should be written, reviewed for performance objectives, and revised as necessary. Not only are written procedures necessary for the person performing the task, they are excellent for cross training employees and training new employees. Written procedures help reduce lost productivity.

SWOT analysis – As a business owner, do you know the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your business? Every business has something in each category. To really know and understand your own business, you should know what falls into each category. Recognize and capitalize on the strengths of your business while improving upon known weaknesses. Tap into untapped opportunities that can grow your business and don't forget to think about potential threats to your business and how you can minimize the effect of any potential threat if it materializes. If a SWOT analysis is prepared with an open mind to critically analyze your business, then ideas will be provided for immediate action to improve your operation. It can also serve as a baseline for future action. Better to be proactive in your business rather than reactive!

An important element in moving a business forward is constant progress whether it is minor or major as long as it is progress – that is what is important. So give your business an added boost by taking advantage of the four factors listed above. These take little time to work on but can produce big gains. Rather than watching your business remain idle, make some kind of progress daily!

OnTarget Strategy provides onsite business management and business strategy consultant services to organizations in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and the Colorado region. We also partner with clients across the United States and Canada.

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