When a new issue crops up at work, it’s best to solve it quickly so it doesn’t fester and cause additional problems. However, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start.
Below, a group of successful entrepreneurs shared their best advice for approaching tough situations in business. Follow their tips to give you the courage, inspiration and motivation to face the unknown.
Resist ignoring the problem.
When faced with a difficult situation, your gut instinct may be to ignore or avoid the problem. However, the more you resist this impulse, the better off you will be, says Tyler Bray, CEO of TK Trailer Parts.
“Every negative, when leveraged properly, can be flipped into a positive,” Bray says. “I’ve seen angry customers turn into loyal, long-term supporters of my company because I knew their frustration represented an opportunity.”
Research experts who have solved the problem.
Expert advice can be a great starting point for figuring out how to solve a new problem. Richard Fong, CEO and founder of AssuredStandard.com, recommends running a Google search to identify the experts in the discipline related to your problem.
“Researchers and academics aren’t known for marketing prowess, so seeking out who the experts are first is the most important step to solving new problems,” says Fong. “Then, work to uncover the merits and drawbacks of each expert’s proposed solutions.”
Listen to everyone involved.
According to Stephanie Wells, co-founder and CTO of Formidable Forms, the first step to solving any problem is to listen.
“Half of communication is listening to the other person to understand their perspective and gain insight where you can’t see it,” Wells explains. “It’s important to hear everyone involved in the issue so you can properly solve it and work together to do so.”
Reflect on and reframe the problem.
Sometimes, the key to solving a problem is simply reframing it in your own mind. That’s why Saurabh Shah, co-founder of InstaLend Corporation, tries to look at the inherent opportunity when faced with a new problem.
“My biggest learnings and phases of growth have come when I’ve recognized that every challenge is simply an opportunity for growth,” Shah says. “Once I’ve meditated on this, I brainstorm and act on long-term solutions.”
Brainstorm solutions with a team.
For Kristin Kimberly Marquet, founder and creative director of Marquet Media, LLC, her team is her No. 1 resource when facing an issue she’s never encountered before.
“I will ask my team for insight on whether they have experience with that problem,” Marquet explains. “If someone does, I will ask them about their experience and how they resolved the issue. Trying to figure out a resolution on my own will most likely take more time than it would if I just asked for help.”
Identify the ‘real’ issue.
Alfredo Atanacio, co-founder of Uassist.ME, says the best way to approach a new problem is to identify the “real” issue and the consequences of not solving it.
“Usually, we substitute a problem with a temporary solution and create a bigger problem,” Atanacio says. “First, let’s ask what the real problem is, be aware of the negative consequences it creates and solve it from there.”
Break the problem into more familiar steps.
A problem rarely seems as big and daunting once you break it down into its most minor steps.
“I find that even if I have not encountered a particular situation before, I’ve likely had to navigate some of the steps necessary to solve the problem,” says Matthew Podolsky, managing attorney at Florida Law Advisers, P.A. “For example, if it’s an employee issue, some steps to solve the problem may be communicating with those affected, taking notes or sifting through the legal issues around the problem.”
Trust your gut.
For Givelle Lamano, CEO of Lamano Law Office, problem-solving starts with meditation and writing things down to uncover her “gut instinct.”
“I meditate so my mind is clear and calm and I make decisions based on logic and reason — not fear or emotion,” says Lamano. “I then journal and write out all my thoughts on paper, which gives me a platform to strategize. Often, my gut points me in the right direction.”