• Susanne Birgersdotter

Running a business is an everyday struggle. A lot of people think that the struggle and hardship – busy days, chasing funding, perfecting designs, and the like will taper off after the product is launched. Or after the first year. Or after the production plant is completed. Maybe after the website is finished. It’s not.

You see, it will never end. There will be another product to launch, another branch to open, another milestone to mark, and the world to conquer. And through your journey, you will be encountering endless hurdles and adversaries – some anticipated, many will be inconsequential, a few will be life-changing. And then there will be some curve balls. Massive, significant, and astounding challenges.

How do you keep a positive outlook going through it all?

Keep your eyes on the goal – Focus on the big picture. If an issue is not contributing to the overall goal of the company, let it go. The painters didn’t get your preferred shade for the office, your manager resigned, you’re not totally impressed with the packaging design, or an investor just outed. These might be issues significant to you at the moment, but will it matter in a year from now? The paint and packaging can be changed and improved, you can find a new manager and another investor. Focus on the big picture while working to resolve the smaller parts .

Be open to change – Sometimes, we are stumped with a dead-end. A government regulation suddenly makes your product illegal, or a competitor launched a better version of what you have, a supplier closed shop. Instead of pining for what you’ve lost or what could have been, turn the situation around and take the opportunity to create something better.

Seek the opportunities – Always be on the lookout for opportunities. The bankrupt supplier is an opportunity to find better ones or consider developing in-house. That government regulation might just be the opportunity for you to focus on another product. Closed doors will force you to take a step back and take stock of your current situation. That is an opportunity.

Have ready alternatives – Always have a fallback plan. Having alternatives on the side will minimize the risks. If the preferred delivery option didn’t work out, have one or two open channels ready to go. Have a backup marketing strategy ready, in case the first one doesn’t deliver the results. The alternative will not affect the product or your timeline, but it will save you from anxiety and losses.

Be proactive – Remember the anticipated challenges? Eliminate or lessen the impact of the problem as soon as it becomes imminent. Shortages during peak seasons can be solved by efficient production and staffing plans. Meet obligations by managing cashflow. Avoid accumulating obsolete stocks by careful forecasting, seamless logistics and controlled production.

Focus on the lessons – There is no textbook on how to run specific businesses. Each one is unique, and you will be learning your way as you go. So, don’t be too hard on yourself if you commit mistakes. In fact, expect to make a few blunders along the way. However, it is also important to see these mistakes as learning pods, capsules of lessons learned the hard way. Thus, you still gain something from the experience.

.Distribute decision-making – Dividing responsibilities will enable each member of the team to focus on one or a few things, making everyone more concentrated and effective at their job. Delegation also empowers employees, promote teamwork, and boost employee engagement. It’s a win-win from all sides. When deciding to start a business, we should stop looking at problems negatively. There will always be problems and issues to take on. How you face them is what matters. If you look at problems as they are, you will have a hard time looking for solutions and resolving them. But, if you at it positively, you would have solved the problem, learned a lesson, and discovered new opportunities.

Problems and challenges in business are opportunities dressed as puzzles and hard work. They just need a little figuring out and a lot of hustling. Dead ends mean you’re on the wrong path and will direct you to the right one. Challenges mean mediocrity or an inadequacy. Not strong enough marketing push, not the right employees, underwhelming product. Take the time to assess what went wrong and why.

While you are contemplating the mistakes, the challenges and the hurdles, don’t forget to think about the wins, the goals achieved, and the people who were with you during and after the good and bad times. Celebrate the wins with your team, treat yourself for a job well done, and be proud of what you’ve achieved. Instead of focusing on the fall, look back and see how far you’ve gone, how much has been achieved.

Gratitude and humility greatly help in putting our problems in perspective. Because, as you stay out late to finish your presentation, or get your head around the business reports, you are also touching lives and making a positive impact on your community. Any problem or issue is too small compared to the good you and your company is bringing to your customers, to the people around you, and to you.