I spent several years trying to identify what the core skill of entrepreneurship is. A top candidate was problem solving. In the end, it didn’t quite fit, but entrepreneurial work is very close in nature to problem solving and we often engage in this as part of our work.

One way this manifests are the limits in your business.

Your business would grow if not for the inherent limits in its design. You:

  • Don’t have enough demand
  • Don’t have the resources (people, equipment, cash, etc.)
  • Or don’t have a system that can fully utilize the demand and resources available

One, or a combination of these, keeps the business at it’s current capacity.

Problem solving arises when you try to fix whatever is limiting the business. It’s useful to understand this, because what often happens when faced with this situation is that we apply fixes almost arbitrarily. For example: if we think the problem is that we don’t have enough customers, we apply whatever marketing tactics we’re familiar with.

To be effective at problem solving, however, you need to start by getting clear on what the problem is.

Being clear seems easy and accessible, but we’re often generic or not quite right in our first assessment. Or our second, third, or fourth. And you won’t generate workable options without understanding what they need to address.

Whatever limit you’re trying to surmount in your business:

Get narrow, specific, concrete. Deeply tactical. Invert the problem to its opposite. Translate it into the perspective of an outsider. Broaden to a wide 50,000 foot strategic lens. Continually turn it over in your mind’s eye and ask yourself what is true about it?

In that deep understanding is where opportunities reveal themselves.

Featured image of the Alchemist in Search of the Philosopher Stone by Joseph Wright of Derby – used under public domain