Problem Solving in Home Business - It Helps To Have a Friend
Running a home business is lonely. Often there is no one to talk to except:
- Your children
- Your spouse or significant other
- Your pet
Their responses can range from negativity (”I have my own problems”) to blank looks (pets) to glazed eyes (spouse, children).
But talking to someone about business problems is one of the best ways to solve them. Every solo business owner needs a group of people he/she can call on for help in dealing with those pesky issues that come up that we aren’t sure how to deal with.
First, Be Kind. I’m going to tell you about something that just happened to me. This problem really happened; I’m not making it up. And please don’t laugh at me for being so stupid. Sometimes we really can’t see what’s right in front of us.
Case in point: The Printing Problem. I was trying to print out about 100 letters that needed to be in color and two-sided. I have a color laser, but it only prints one-sided. I had to do a mailing and I wanted to keep it under an ounce with all of the inserts, hence the need to print two-sided. I puzzled over the issue for days, trying to figure out a way to do this without having to resort to going to the copy shop, where they would charge me an unreasonable amount of money.
Finally, I thought of a friend who has a laser printer that prints two-sided, but not in color. I called him and suggested I bring him the sheets with the color heading already printed, and have him print the black-and-white text two-sided. His response, “Why don’t you just run them through your printer twice?” BIG HEAD SLAP! DOH! (See why I said you wouldn’t believe me? You probably figured it out at the beginning.)
Another Example: My Logo Consulting Group. I am considering logos for a new business venture. I had several family and friends look at these over the holidays. Several of them pointed out obvious stuff in some of the logos that I had missed and which would have had negative effects on those who viewed them.
It’s funny how we get caught up in a particular way of thinking and we can’t get out of it. I was able to print out the letters - two sided and in color - this morning in just a few minutes. Whew! All the time, I was thinking about this dilemma and why we don’t see the solutions that are right in front of us.
The Wisdom of Crowds. It seems to me the best way to change the way we think about problems is to get help in thinking. I read a great book a few years ago called The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. One of his basic premises is that a group thinks better than an individual. The key to this “wisdom” is that the group has to be diverse - different in their sexes, ages, ethnic and racial backgrounds, political viewpoints, etc.
Thinking Differently About Problems. A group of people who think differently can more easily solve a problem than a group of people who are all the same. In my example of the logo, I needed people who saw things in very different ways, since I needed to know how different people would react to the logo.
Bottom Line: Create an Advisor Group. Find a group of people you can toss ideas around with, or who you can go to with problems. This can be an online group or a local group, or both, and it can certainly include family and friends. You may already have an informal group of people you can go to, and who come to you. Make this group more formal and make it more powerful.
Problem Solving Groups for Success. While spouses, children, and pets are wonderful supports for your home business, finding a group of people who can help each other think about problems can mean the difference between having an “ok” business and a truly successful one.
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