Turn Negatives Into Positives

Solving problems is a major part of having a successful business. As your business grows, without a doubt, you will run into more problems. So it is very important that you expect, understand, and learn to deal with problems properly.


mountain_green_scenic.jpg First of all, think of your successful business like a mountain. That may sound strange, but take a moment to consider what a mountain is. Most mountains are the tallest land mass around. The only land mass that is taller than one mountain is another mountain! Mountains also support a vast amount of nature, including plants, valuable resources, and wildlife.


In fact, many animals are born or hatch, live, reproduce, and die on the mountain. But this process of life does not take anything away from a mountain. Giving life a place to thrive only adds to the mountain. In other words, one way the mountain grows is by being called "home" by many. The more diverse the nature found on a mountain, the greater the mountain becomes.

Believe it or not, but a successful business is the same way. As your business grows people will begin to use you. Next they will grow to depend on you. Then their friends and families will learn about you. Before long these extended families will grow to depend upon you, also. Finally a vast amount of different people, businesses and organizations of all types will depend upon your products and services. You will have become a mountain in your industry.


When you look at business this way, you will begin to understand why you should never get too upset whenever there are problems. Have you heard the old saying "don't make a mountain out of a molehill"? Well, when it is your business that is the mountain, any problem you run into must, by definition, be a molehill!  


Learn to look at problems as small in relationship to you, so that they lose their power to upset. Successful business owners come to realize that problems never go away in business. For good business owners, problems are simply challenges to be overcome as cheaply as possible. Solving problems is an art that can cement relationships. 


So how do you successfully overcome problems as cheaply as possible? First you need to understand exactly what the problem is. Problems are not a personal attack. Problems at their root, are not racism or sexism. Problems are not someone simply "hating on you". Problems are an opportunity to show everyone that (just like a mountain) you are fair and don't play favorites.


When someone comes to you with a problem, first and foremost, don't ignore it. Ignoring problems only makes them bigger. The problem may appear to go away for a while, but you should know that when that problem returns, it will be bigger and more disruptive. Problems are like fire alarms. If you turn off the alarm, it doesn't mean you won't have a fire.


Second, when confronted with a problem you should make sure you clearly understand what the problem is. If the problem comes to you verbally, repeat it back to the giver. Make sure that all parties agree on what the problem is before you try to address it. If the problem comes in writing, talk it over with your senior managers or with us here at AAIME, so you understand what's going on. If there is no time for that, contact the letter writer and directly ask them your questions.


Next, find out what the problem giver wants to correct the mistake. People are mostly fair. Just ask them what they want, because many times that is the least expensive way to solve a problem. However if what the problem giver wants is too expensive, you will have to negotiate with them to solve the problem.


When you negotiate, calmly think out all options before you start. Try to take the side of the person with the problem. Ask yourself what you would want if you were in their shoes. By "walking a mile in the person with the problem's shoes" you will usually be able to decide upon a fair bargain. Remember, as a business owner you have many tools at your disposal. For example, giving away a free product or service does not cost you as much as it would a customer, because of your wholesale price advantage.


If all else fails, be truthful. Lay your cards on the table and tell the problem giver why you cannot afford their requested solution. By being honest you will disarm the problem giver. Many times people can make up things in their mind that just are not true. You must break down with the truth, any walls that a customer may have built up from bad advice or inaccurate facts about your ability to pay dearly.


Of course you cannot make everyone happy all the time. But if you attempt to, and use every means at your disposal to satisfy people, most of the time they will work with you. But if you take nothing else from this newsletter, understand that in business, problems come with the territory, that you can't take them personally, and if you try to handle them honestly and fairly, your business will benefit.


Call the Association office with questions or for more information.