Attack With Hummus and Other Great Problem-Solving Ideas for Small Business Success

Success takes action.  Sometimes it is simply that easy.  If you want to be successful at building a small business,  you have to beat the paralysis of analysis and do something.  I met with two small business owners and their staff about a year ago who were struggling with knowing what do to next.  They were not seeing the revenue they needed and were caught in that old paralysis of analysis on which way to take their business.  They didn’t want a long-term coaching relationship, they just needed some help coming up with ways to increase sales without increasing expenses.  So I offered to lead a brainstorming session for them.  I started with a presentation on  “10 Problem-Solving Ideas for Any Small Business” or something like that.  I got a call from someone in that group earlier this week and I’m happy to report that their business is doing really well.  They have some new staff members on board, and they’ve asked me if I could re-send them my hand-outs.  So I pulled out that file and as I reviewed it, I thought, “Hey, there’s some good ideas here.”  So now I’m sharing some of those ideas with you.

As I remember it, the biggest discussion generator I put up on the screen was, “Pretend you know exactly what you should do next, and do that.”  Some people scoffed at first, but it actually got this group off-center and the ideas started flowing.  The point is: Don’t stand in your own way.  Even if you take the “wrong” action, just by doing something, a dynamic or two will change and the solution will become clearer.  No problem in business is ever un-solvable.  Now, I’m not saying that you will always like the outcome, but a solution always exists.  It just sometimes takes a little creativity to get there.

Attack with Hummus

Attack with Hummus

The biggest laugh came from the slide entitled “Attack with Hummus.” I don’t know about you, but I was a big Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan.  And one of my favorite moments in that series was a scene where the gang was sitting in the library talking about how to kill the monster du jour and someone suggested something and Buffy said, “That’s the dumbest idea ever,” to which one of the characters replied (it’s the actor Seth Green, but I can’t remember his character’s name at the moment), “Well, we could throw hummus at him.”  The room goes dead silent for a moment, then Buffy says, “I stand corrected.”  That moment stuck in my head.  If you are at a loss about how to solve a business problem, start with impractical or foolish solutions and figure out why those wouldn’t work.  I always start with “attack with hummus” and move on from there.  The practical, sensible solutions will become more obvious the sillier you get.  For instance, it would be foolish to send your past-due clients an envelope filled with hummus instead of their monthly invoice that apparently just gets ignored, but is there something else you could put in the envelope that would make it memorable and not just “another” bill?   How do you get their attention?  Put some thought into it and you’ll probably come up with a good idea.

Another idea is to pretend that a fairy godmother magically appeared, waved a wand, and poof! problem solved.  What would change?  Make a list of all the ways in which your situation would change once the problem is solved.  Then work backwards to see how you can go from success to the struggles you are having now.  Often, when you look at a business problem backward, you’ll see the path it takes to get it done.

What would he do?

What would he do?

If you’re still struggling with coming up with possible solutions, imagine how someone in a totally different profession would handle the same kind of problem.  If professional football team faced the same kind of problem as your small business, what would they do?  They would shake up the roster, get a new coach, practice new plays, study more film.  Have you taken those kinds of steps? Or if you stranded on an island with the cast of Lost and they had to solve this problem, what would they do?  Take yourself mentally out of your current environment and see what ideas pop up.  It often works.

And finally, when you come up with a possible solution, don’t stop there.  Come up with another idea, then another.  Often, it’s the third or fourth idea you have that is actually the best solution.  And just knowing that you have more than one option to try to solve a business problem will give you the confidence to try your first choice solution.

If your small business is stuck in a rut or has a problem that you are just not able to solve, when all else fails, get on the phone or send an email and ask someone for help.  A small business consultant like me can sometimes see a situation with fresh eyes and because I have a different knowledge set, I may present a different solution.

I would be glad to help you.  After all, I want all small business owners to reach their Success Point.

See you soon.

See you soon.

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1 comment

  1. Joni Fisher

    Another Buffy fan, I thought they were all still in Southern California! (I even have the “collectors” DVD package!)

    You are absolutely, “right on”! Inactivity, loss of momentum, paralysis – whatever term you use – will kill whatever motivation or success that you may have achieved. It’s all about jumping out of bed and loving what you do; this passion will enable you to keep going, and make those decisions that tend to paralyze others. To find the humour and fun of it all enables us to face the trials of each and every day with a smile and a big “high-5”! Bring on the Hummus

    We all have something that we are passionate about and are (in our own right) experts. Use this passion to your advantage and watch that “paralysis” dissolve and your motivation soar!

    Joni Fisher, CSP
    Fisher Search Group

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