by Angela Civitella, founder of INTINDE
Face it, we all have to tap into our problem-solving skills in every aspect of our lives. It’s important for our private life, and an important skill to have in our work life, too.
So, let’s start with the basics: What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? It means to become an innovator who is able to make a change in how we live our lives and maybe even in the world around us. Although it sounds glorious, this journey is not for the faint of heart: it is riddled with ups and downs and tests your ability to solve problems.
How to Develop Problem Solving Skills.
Problem-solving skills can only be developed and improved over time through experience and hearing about the experiences of other entrepreneurs.
Each situation that presents itself requires a different problem-solving skill, therefore a different approach. Some business solutions are tougher than others and may require a lot more thought and critical evaluation than others.
Other problems are very simple and you can solve them easily, but regardless of how big or how complex a problem is, you will always need to find a viable solution.
What makes someone a great problem solver is knowing how to evaluate each situation and look at outcomes from a global perspective, forcing you to look at how your solutions will affect you, your business and how things may look in the long run.
Here are six main skills that are important when it comes to solving problems both in your personal life and in business. When you find yourself in a deep problem, you simply need to evaluate the situation and apply these skills. You will be surprised at how some of the things you perceived as tough actually turn out to be straightforward.
1. Critical Thinking.
Don’t take a decision in a hurry. Do not execute the first idea that comes to mind. It almost always turns out to be the wrong decision. Critical thinking is the process of taking your time to “sit with” a problem for a while, and thereafter, logically make a judgment call. Using this skill will force you to look at all factors that are related to the problem and come up with a suitable and satisfactory conclusion.
This is especially important when making business decisions that relate to finances, legal issues, and employees. Being able to critically think about issues is central to success in life and in business.
2. Creative Lateral Thinking.
This is the ability of being able to think outside of the box. Entrepreneurs are known innovators. They believe in thinking differently about problems. They aren’t shy about asking a lot of questions, that in turn allows for solid solution-based conclusions.
Creativity allows the mind to wander and dig deep into problems, by going beyond the surface and thereafter, using your critical thinking problem-solving skills to analyze each issue.
Taking a self-starter initiative is central to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Not only is it important in terms of customer acquisition, it helps when you have to solve a problem. Being proactive puts you in the mindset of always looking for something to do in a way that’s completely new.
The initiative of an entrepreneur is developed over time and it shows that you are passionate about your product and determined to succeed; qualities that investors love to see. Any good problem-solver is usually resourceful, finds people of like mind, uses their initiative to seek out good solutions to problems while understanding that a good problem solver continues and forges on, even if they fail along the way.
Persistence, determination or perseverance is a key trait of successful people. Since problems come in different ways. the more complex the problem, the more critical thinking and persistence is required
Persistence is an important problem-solving skill that is often misunderstood by a lot of people. Being persistent does not necessarily mean doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. You have to be wise in your decision making and determined to achieve the best outcome through constant evaluation.
Flexibility or adaptability is the ability to be open-minded and open to new opportunities and change. You should be able to change your mind to suit different situations or circumstances. When trying to solve a problem, not all the solutions that you try out will work. Some can backfire and leave you quite frustrated.
By being flexible, you will be able to apply different solutions to solve an issue. This is far much better than sticking to a single solution that is not yielding any fruits.
A flexible person is also open to receiving suggestions from other people who may be experts in solving similar problems. As was mentioned before, most of us experience similar issues on a daily basis especially in business and knowing who to turn to will make all the difference.
Finally, when it comes to solving problems, you need to be focused and disciplined. Regardless of how good you are at solving different problems, your efforts may not bear any fruits if you don’t have self-discipline. This is the ability to control yourself and remain focused on finding the solutions to the problem.
Constantly evaluating situations and thinking critically about them require a certain level of discipline which you must have to become successful. By being self-disciplined, you will be able to remain on the right path without being distracted by any external factors. This skill will also help you to be fully committed to finding the best solutions each time.
It does not matter what kind of problem that you are facing, the most important thing is how you solve it. Developing these six problem-solving skills will always be useful in any tricky situation. The key is to keep evolving.
Angela Civitella is founder of INTINDE, and a certified business leadership coach. She knows firsthand the rollercoaster ride of building a successful business, managing a team and working your way up the never-ending executive ladder. Angela has successfully transitioned from being a middle manager to being a top executive in her field, having taken over a multi-million dollar business and making it thrive. She went on to build a $60million+ international real estate firm, which she actively manages.