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Monthly Business e-Tips Vol 8
Issue 2

Cure the Problem, Not just the Symptoms

"The way we see the problem is the problem" Stephen R. Covey

After moving into my new home this summer, I have been plagued by one illness after another. Each episode differed and led to a series of doctor visits and a variety of medications. As a generally healthy person, something wasn't adding up.

Wondering if something in my new home could be causing the sickness, I began making some investigative phone calls and eventually discovered the source. The heating and air conditioning filters had never been changed and were filled with pieces of insulation and construction debris. And my allergies were making me particularly sensitive to the impurities and poor air quality. The filters have since been changed and the vents cleaned. So far, so good! Yes, the doctor could treat my symptoms, but only identifying their cause could eliminate them.

Many of you are fighting the symptoms of problematic situations within your business. Are you looking for the root causes? As a consultant I am often called to solve problems only to determine their causes run deeper than presented. In those situations, I have to do an assessment to discover the source before I can help to resolve it.

Here are some common symptoms and possible issues causing them:

  • Symptom - not enough sales leads. Could it be no one is interested in your products? Or do you need to increase marketing, communicate a better message, strengthen your value proposition or target new markets?
  • Symptom - employees are not productive. Could they be lazy? Or more likely unmotivated, received unclear instructions or need additional tools or training? Perhaps you have unrealistic or mismatched expectations?
  • Symptom - not closing deals. Could it simply be due to the down economy? Or is there a need to improve sales skills, ask better questions, find more qualified leads, or better understand your customers' real pain points?
  • Symptom - your business is not profitable. Is it because you haven't generated enough revenue? Or could it also mean you need to improve how you manage expenses, control cash flow, charge for products/services, cross-sell products or increase options offered?
  • Symptom – can't get ahead of anything. Are you just too busy? Or do you need to manage your time better or become more focused? Are you being reactive rather than proactive about recurring problems?

When struggling with an issue, ask yourself, is it a symptom or the real problem? Then address it directly. It's easy to blame other people or external circumstances, however you are the bottom line. Know what ails your business and give it the right medicine to remain healthy and grow strong.


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