When I get to working with people in business the first thing I try to resolve is what the actual issue is. I have learnt over time that the Problem is never the Problem.
What does that mean?
Whatever the client tells me the problem is, they’re often wrong, they often describe the ‘result’ of the problem. The problem itself is deeper and requires some very honest conversations in their businesses, and for many people that gets uncomfortable very quickly. Eg. I have been working with a cafe and the owner told me that the problem is “We’re just not selling enough coffee.” I replied by saying I don’t believe that’s the problem. I believe that’s the result of the problem so try again.
He said “Yeah you’re right, then the problem is we’re not getting enough people through the doors and therefore we’re not selling enough food or coffee.” Closer but….
I still didn’t agree that this was the problem. I still believed that this was the result of the real problem. The owner was confused. Here’s how I explained it to him and how I will explain it to you:
If not selling enough coffee was the problem, then no other cafe in town would be selling coffee and I know that’s not true because I spent a week trialing different cafes and I found a few that were flat out. Which leads to two main questions: Why? and, What are they doing differently?
So let’s get back to our cafe and find out what the actual problem be? The problem that’s resulting in not enough people through the doors and not enough coffee being sold. To find this you, as the business owner, have to think a little deeper and you have to be willing to call yourself on a few truths. Here are some things that could result in not getting numbers through the door or not selling enough coffee:
- The quality of your food or coffee is poor.
- Customer service is not as good as other cafe’s. People will always go where they have had a great experience.
- Marketing. Perhaps your marketing is not great or for some, it’s non-existent. Yes I have experienced this.
- Staffing. Maybe you don’t have the right staff in the right positions. Too often I see businesses keeping sub-par staff because the owner is too lazy or too ‘busy’ to do something about a known problem.
- Cleanliness. Maybe the cafe is not clean enough, too noisy, or the general feel just isn’t there. If the vibe in a cafe isn’t great then you need to work out why.
- The owner is to busy being busy rather than being efficient and productive. Change your focus to being productive rather than constantly referring to how busy you are.
As you can see, often the problem is not the problem but rather the result of the real problem. The real problem can often be broken into a few smaller problems. If you focus on what you currently believe the problem to be and not on the actual cause, then you will never resolve the problem without a whole lot of luck. If you’re relying on luck to make your business successful then maybe it’s best to put some lotto tickets and scratchies into your business budget.
If lack of sales ends up being your honest problem, (that is no one else in a similar industry is making sales either), then your market is too niche and you need to look at another business. More than likely your problem will lie in Marketing, Staffing, Prioritising and The Owner (yes you) not being focused on what counts most. It’s very easy to be busy in business, but being busy doesn’t necessarily equal getting a result, it doesn’t mean productive.
Business is not about Busyness.
So how do I work out what the problem is in my business?
Well it’s quite simple. First I advise you set yourself up for success by finding a quite time and place where you won’t be disturbed. You need the time to focus on your business not putting out fires by responding to emails, phone calls and solving issues that your staff are most likely capable of handling.
- Write a list of the challenges within your business. Right now what do you feel the problem is? Often it’s turnover, you need more people coming through the doors, ringing your phone or hitting your website.
- Write down whether this is a problem or a result of a problem. If it’s the result of the problem then write a list next to each as to what the actual problem is. ie. What’s causing your lower than required turnover? Why aren’t you selling more coffee?
- Write a list of solutions or actions you can take to change this trend and get the money rolling back in.
- Take action in the next 7 days. Don’t sit round hoping things will get better. They won’t. Your competition will continue to work hard to take and keep your clients. Take action and adjust as required. Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.
The final step that worked for me was to look for people with ‘been there and done that’ experience. Book into workshops, courses, read books, listen to podcasts. Don’t make excuses about not having time. If you want your business to succeed you’ll make time. If you want to secure your future and the financial future of your loved ones you will make the time.
If you can’t make the time, or won’t make the investment, then you just don’t want it bad enough. Be honest with yourself about that. Do you want to succeed in business or are you better to go and get a job?
Change is not necessary in business but then neither is survival.
I trust that helps you take an honest look at yourself, your team, your business and then make the necessary adjustments.
Yours in Business Success,
ps. I am available for Personal Coaching and Small Group Coaching by request. Pricing can be viewed here.