Entrepreneurial Problem Solving

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty. - Winston Churchill

Perhaps the greatest skill of most successful entrepreneurs is their ability to come up with creative solutions to the host of daily problems every business owner faces, be it lack of cash, competition, or employees. Rarely has anyone captured the essence of this trait better than George Bernard Shaw, who eloquently said, “Some men see things as they are and say why…I see things that never were and say why not.” Innovation, creativity, the ability to dream things that never were, or change things that never should have been, are at the very heart of the cunningly clever entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs are, by their very nature, legendary problem solvers. They learn early that one’s position in life is very often measured in direct proportion to their ability to unravel difficulties. The better you become at problem-solving, the more complex the problems you can graduate to in the future. If your issues are small and trivial and can be solved quickly and easily, or simply avoided altogether, then you probably have not gone very far in life. If, however, your problems are large, complex, or demand a great deal of thinking, time, and effort to solve, then you’re probably well ahead of the pack in terms of power and position.

Spotting, Creating, and Capitalizing on Opportunity

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” - Thomas Edison

A key way to quickly get ahead in business and life is to have a keen eye for spotting opportunities. If only we had the foresight to register a domain name in 1993 – any domain name –  because back then they were all still available. If only we had bought land on the river or where the mall now stands. If only we had unloaded all our stocks in early 2007 instead of 2010. Still, hindsight is always 20/20; the question is how can you spot the next great opportunity for your business?

I’m not talking about you having to predict major national and international trends like the price of gold, or the stock market. I’m talking about not getting so caught up in your day-to-day work that you miss simple opportunities. It’s about you working on your business, not just in it.

The first step to inviting opportunity into your life is to be on the lookout for it – to seek it out, by looking, listening, and constantly analyzing how you do business. The question “What could you do better?” should always at the front of your mind, instead of locked away in a vault at the back!

Your business and life ultimately are determined by the quality of the questions you pose and answer!

Finding Your Right Niche

I carved out a niche with the Wagnerian repertoire since I am attracted by its theatrical intensity. - Placido Domingo

It is a thousand times easier to make money in niche markets than it is in large or general markets. I made millions in two niche markets, the karate business and the golf business. Both markets had mailing lists of between 12,000-18,000 prospects and so were easy to reach by mail. Both markets had limited competition when I entered and I had a knowledge of, and a passion for, both businesses.

I have written over forty books. The two most profitable ones, one making $150,000 the first year and the other over $200,000, were written for these specialized industries. The ones written for mainstream consumption took far longer to reach any kind of critical mass. The bigger the market, the harder and more costly it is to reach.

Generating Creative Solutions

Everything new is really just an addition to or modification of something that already exists. - Michael Michalko

Once the problem is actually defined and constraints have been examined, the next key is to gather your team and generate as many different solutions as possible. The more solutions you can generate, the greater your chance of finding the right one, the one that not only solves the problem, but perhaps even goes beyond it to create new opportunities. Before embarking your team on a no-holds-barred brainstorming session, a few simple rules should be followed to make such meetings of the minds effective.

Effective Brainstorming

Brainstorming is done a number of ways. However, too many sessions degenerate into simple discussions or “bull sessions.” Hold the session in an esthetically appealing place to stimulate creativity. Avoid distractions and interruptions.

Golf Course Dress Codes, Cell Phones, and Snobs

There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life. - Frank Zappa

Every industry has their stupid, unfriendly, non-customercentric policies, but the golf industry in which I often work has more than most. Following are just a few shining examples.

At North Berwick Golf Club (Scotland) on a damp and foggy morning, I was asked to remove my $100 navy-blue, waterresistant sleeveless sweater with the logo of a very high-end club on it as, according to the steward, it constituted rain gear which was not allowed in the clubhouse. I had just stepped out of my car and I protested that it was my only sweater, that it was dry, and that I was cold. To which came the reply, “You’ll warm up in a wee minute as soon as ye get yer coffee in yea.” Which, loosely translated means “I don’t give a damn. Take it off if you want to come in!” I did take it off, but was cold for 15 minutes while I waited for my coffee to arrive and warm me up. Yes, I know I was a guest and should just be delighted to be there, but instead I was cold and irritated.

Gullane (Scotland) is a monster of a course at almost 6,200 yards with the fairways hard as rock after weeks of high temperatures and no rain, thus ensuring that even a missed hit went 300 yards. We were forbidden to play the back tees (very typical in England and Scotland, as they consider it a privilege for the members, and, even then, only in tournaments). So we played Gullane at 5,800 yards or less with a driver and a sand wedge. If I had wanted to play pitch and putt, I could have done that on the free course at the Gullane village green. I felt cheated!

Life’s Three Great Income Multipliers

Beyond your immediate technical skills, life has three great multipliers. We can all commit some of our time to enhancing our skills, but which skills you choose to enhance will have dramatic effect on your income. Say what you like, Mrs. Dale, about the educational benefits of learning Latin, but I assure you it proved to be—as I suspected at the time—a total waste of one hour of my life, twice a week for three years while in high school!

There are three skills you should acquire or enhance, regardless of your profession or business. These skills have the potential to multiple your income by a factor far greater than any other skills you could possibly learn.

The three great income multipliers are:

  • speaking skills
  • copywriting skills
  • sales skills

Your ability to communicate your ideas and convert people to your cause through speaking and writing results in a sale of some kind. It may be financial, it may be an alliance, or it may be just getting an interview, but the X factor in your ability to do this more successfully than others results in an almost unimaginable difference in income—and therefore in lifestyle and wealth.

The three skills are all quite closely intertwined, as they all deal with your ability to communicate and generate action from others. Getting others to act in the way you want them to act, be it your employer, your employees, or your customers, is the key to all business success!

  • A typical golf coach makes about $50,000 a year.
  • Those who are good at sales make over $100,000 doing the exact same job!
  • Those who are good at all three will make $150,000, triple the average instructor—not because they are any better at teaching but because they are better at communicating (selling) their expertise!
  • Those who are really excellent at speaking, writing and sales like David Leadbetter or Dave Pelz make $8 to $10 million a year!

You can apply this formula to just about any industry or profession. A person with the ability to communicate his worth at a high level will get promoted faster, although his actual performance may be no better than his coworkers’.

Golf instructors, martial-arts instructors, and dance-school owners all have years of experience teaching their art. It’s no different for accountants, dentists, or chiropractors with years of experience perfecting a professional skill. Yet all will undoubtedly be paid far less than their talent and experience is worth if they are not also masters of sales and marketing!

Universal Law: The professionals with the best sales and marketing skills make the most money, not the professionals with the most talent in their chosen field.

No matter what your skills are in these areas right now, you can quickly and easily improve or hone them. These skills are the x-factor in just about every business or career. Once you have them, you can add financial management to the list.

Start enhancing your education in these three areas today, and multiply your income immediately!

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