Brian Colpak’s basic business skills: A six-step plan for problem solving
If you’re going to become a successful business owner, you’re going to have to learn to solve problems.
You may have a straight-line idea of how you are going to succeed, but there’s no doubt that you will face challenges along the way. There will be problems with product creation, sales, delivery, collections, and people to face throughout your time as a business owner.
Luckily, most of these problems and obstacles can be overcome if you follow a step-by-step process. In this article, tech entrepreneur Brian Colpak points out that this process is one that anyone can learn.
1. Identify the problem
You can’t fix the problem if you can’t identify it. That much goes without saying.
This first step is more than just recognizing that there is a problem — though identifying problems isn’t always simple. This step is really about fully understanding the problem before trying to come up with a solution.
Many business owners get frustrated with problem-solving when they don’t take the time to truly understand what the issue is in the first place. Then, they employ what they think is a good solution but may not be completely appropriate. This can lead to a small problem becoming a massive one.
2. Understand the angles
One problem may have multiple reasons. This is one of the most important things a business owner can understand from the get-go.
It’s very important to analyze a situation fully and in-depth, even if your initial research has landed you on a source of the problem.
Your sales, for example, could dip because your marketing isn’t working, because there’s a new competitor in the market, because you’re understaffed, or because it’s not the right season. Or, it could be a combination of two or more of those factors, depending on the time of year.
Fully investigate all the potential sources of the problem before trying to fix it.
3. List all solutions
It’s also important to recognize that there could be more than one solution to a single problem. Whiteboard all possible solutions, and analyze the potential impact each of them could have.
Eliminate the solutions that don’t look viable, and keep the ones that could prove to be worthy.
Then, rank the solutions based on which ones you believe should take priority. This could mean executing a short-term fix now, followed by a medium-term and long-term solution you’ll work on.
4. Be decisive
Business is about doing your research and then making decisions with confidence. Will you always know the right answer? No, and that’s OK.
When problems arise, they need solutions to be implemented — and sometimes quickly. It’s your job as the business owner to make those decisions and don’t hesitate. Don’t rush your decision, but doing nothing for a long period of time can be extremely harmful.
5. Delegate assignments
As Brian Colpak points out, problems won’t just get fixed immediately upon coming up with solutions. People will need to execute various parts of the solution to make it work.
This is one of the most important parts of the process — assign roles that tell everyone at your company who is responsible for what. Make these assignments clear, and let people get to work.
6. Measure the results
You’ll never know if the solution was a good idea — or whether everyone is doing their job — if you don’t set objective measurements. If you put a new marketing strategy in place to boost sales, for example, and sales go up, was it because of the marketing? Or is it a coincidence?
If you don’t have achievable metrics and ways to track this, then you’ll never really know.
About Brian Colpak
Brian Colpak is a tech entrepreneur and the founder of Continental Global. After spending most of his career in managerial positions, he founded and led a company that was recognized as one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in Massachusetts before starting his current company. These days his main focus is on an upcoming project in Dubai.
Story by Jessica Brown