“But times are hard, the economy’s slowing and inflation is up” say the little voices all around us. That may be the case, and that’s precisely why right now is the best time to do business.
Many small businesses think they’re in the business of selling their products or of supplying their services. Successful businesses, those that thrive in more trying times, are those that realise this is not quite the case. In reality, every business is a problem-solver. They exist to solve their customers problems. They exist to make the customer money by driving up profits, save the customer money by reducing costs, or to make the customer look and feel good in some way.
These are all problems that our customers have, and in trying times these problems do not go away, in fact they often increase. So to a keen problem-solving business there’s plenty to be getting on with. We have to work out ways that we can be more creative in selling, marketing and positioning our problem-solving products and services. Can we turn our troubleshooting skills in on ourselves to hit upon the ideas that will reduce our own costs or increase our own profits? How can we become expert, flexible and creative problem-solvers?
We must understand and unlock our individual and our company’s collective creativity. In affluent times, creativity and innovation are often seen as soft skills, nice to toy with, but not really taken very seriously. In more troubled changing times, your creativity and the creativity of your team become your biggest asset. Creativity has become a hard skill. Fortunately it is one that can be enhanced through training and practice.
Here’s a tip to start you off.
Get a piece of paper and write at the top your biggest problem right now as a question, e.g.. ‘How can I increase sales’, ‘How can I use the internet to drive business’ or ‘How can I improve cashflow’. Then write on the sheet twenty-one answers to the question. Do not stand up or do anything else until you have twenty-one answers. (You’re allowed to shout across the room for help from your colleagues!)
To complete the list, some of your ideas will have to be fanciful or even silly. If you fail to complete the list it is because you’re trapped in judgmental thinking and that is what is holding you back. Be more open and think of some ridiculous ways to answer the question. Just doing this exercise will open your mind to possibilities. You may even find that your stupid ideas are actually inverted good ideas. Do this every day and you will soon become an expert problem solver. Who knows, on one of those lists you just might find the big idea that will change everything and take your business to the next level.