Productivity Tips

Problem Solving Advice

Written by James Garvin for Gaebler Ventures

Entrepreneurs are driven individuals who set out to solve a host of problems that create economic value for themselves and their firms, however many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of trying to solve too many problems. Learn valuable problem solving tips here.

One of the most difficult things for an entrepreneur to do is to focus.

Problem Solving Advice

Entrepreneurs are ambitious, energetic, and have a tendency to move at a rapid pace trying to create solutions for all of the problems that they come across. While this drive and energy is a necessity it can also be a distraction that leads entrepreneurs astray from one idea to the next.

As an entrepreneur it is critical to understand that focusing your energy on solving one problem at a time is one of the best problem solving tips for you and your organization. When you start your business, it is with the intention of producing a valuable solution to a problem and as you begin to develop that solution, other problems tend to emerge that you believe you can be solved at the same time. Do not fall into this trap.

Being lead astray by your own ambition will cause more damage than good as you spread yourself to thin and lose your laser focus on solving the initial problem you set out to solve. Sometimes, keeping a written note of what problem you are setting out to solve, why you are solving it, and how you will solve it can serve as a reminder to stay focused and prevent you from leading astray when your ambitions are the highest. Keep that note as a reference for times when you feel like you are going in too many directions or wondering what activities you should pursue next with your business.

The more focused you are on solving a single problem, will allow you to eventually solve that problem better than any other individual or company, something that I've talked a lot about in regards to creating a sustainable competitive advantage. Trying to solve multiple problems with your company or with your product will stretch you to thin and with the limited resources that you do have as an entrepreneur, you will find yourself not being able to solve any of the problems that you want. It is much better to be largely successful at one thing, then marginally successful at many things, at least in terms of building sustainable companies.

Basic management skills can be implemented to keep you and your company moving forward in one direction. If you are a visual person, draw an activity map of the core activities that are required for you to accomplish your business goals. Secondly, draw support activities that would be nice to have, but are not required to achieve your goals and then prioritize them. Do not move to the next activity until the one above it has been accomplished to the best of your ability or it is no longer needed. Creating a more structured process to follow will help keep your thoughts, activities, and your business moving toward a single goal. As the army says "Be the Best That You Can Be", but limit yourself to being the best, one problem at a time.

James Garvin began his education studying biotechnology. In recent years he has turned his interest in technology to helping two internet startup companies. The first business was an online personal financial network and the second was an e-marketing platform created to help entrepreneurs demo their web sites. Currently a student at University of California Davis, James is spending his summer incubating two new online businesses and writing about his entrepreneur experiences.

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