Feeling a Little Lost? Start at the Very BeginningNov 21, 2021
By Dino Tartaglia.
In the October issue of Create Evolve Overcome Magazine, we opened up the discussion around Asking Better Questions and saw how this singular skill helped Billy Beane, the GM of the Oakland A's baseball team, effectively save his team and make the business of baseball in Oakland finally profitable, after decades living at the wire.
I promised that we'd get into this more profoundly but mainly that we'd consider and learn tangible, practical things you could do to improve the outcomes of the effort you put in by 'rigging the game'. After all, what's the point of reading business and personal development-related information if it doesn't help you positively move the needle?
Let's get to it!
When we read, we begin with A, B, C...
In the film, The Sound of Music (which my Aunt dragged me to see when I was about 6, for the avoidance of doubt ), not long after it hit the cinema in Glasgow, Scotland. Julie Andrews (Maria, in the film) takes the children of the Von Trapp family out into the mountains for the day and, in a particular scene, she begins to teach the children to sing.
You'll probably know the song DO-Re-Mi. Her opening lines are, "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start" Wise words from Maria, and this is EXACTLY what we need to do in our quest to be Better Business Problem Solvers. No matter how small or how complex your business, the core skill of an entrepreneur is to solve problems.
- Staff Problems
- Client Problems
- Market Problems
- Pricing Problems
- Problems where the client & you don't see the same value proposition (so you don't get hired or paid)
And most problematic of all for pretty much everyone
- problems you can't identify in your business but that you KNOW are there because of the issues they create.
Often, we don't see what's right under our noses.
This is something I spent a full four weeks and 23 posts discussing almost precisely two years ago, and the content is still as valid now - in the grip of Brexit and a pandemic - as it was then because the fundamentals never change.
We call it The Elusive Obvious.
Here's how this stuff manifests in your coaching, consulting, creative, training, therapy, agency or other Brilliant Busines;
You feel the pain of sporadic income. Peaks and troughs, boom and bust, feast and famine are the best ways to describe your revenue patterns.
Your solution? You need more clients, more regularly, so things smooth out.
Sounds sensible. Practical, logical, right? Sure.
Except. It's about as problematic a 'solution' as you could get.
Let's use this as an example to look at the process you should be using.
Firstly, we don't jump into the middle of a problem, which is what you've just done here. We start at the very beginning (remember Julie Andrews?). We don't ask, How Can I Get More Clients? We ask a Better Question. We widen the scope and go back further in the process. We go right back to the genesis or 'birth' of the problem.
We ask, Why Is My Income Sporadic? What Are The Possible Causes? I refer to this as First Principles Thinking.
It's something all mathematicians, scientists, philosophers and engineers will be very familiar with. It refers to a starting assumption or fact, the first basis from which a thing is known, the foundation from which everything subsequently flows. So, we start at the beginning of the issue, and we use methodical techniques, not someone else's ideas or shortcuts, to deconstruct and think through the problem or challenge from its root, rather than focusing on the branch (or symptom).
So, back to the problem of your income feast & famine, and the Better Question. What answers might YOU come up with now?
- Not enough clients
- Charges/fees too low
- Low conversions of enquiries
- Too busy with fulfilment and not focused on business development
- Charging/fee structure - could I smooth out payments to make them more regular
- A spread of poor payers
and much, much more
Then we start tackling each of these answers/areas.
Example: A spread of poor payers
Question: How can I eliminate or mitigate this? Where might the issue stem from?
Building a Solution: If I can trap this behaviour/potential in my Ts & Cs, get some upfront payment to test the client's ability & willingness to pay, would that make a difference? How much upfront is usual/acceptable? Will that help or shift the problem? Would switching these clients to regular DD (Direct Debit) work? How about phased payments set up on a SO (Standing Order) before I start work? What else could I do to test their payment integrity and mitigate payment 'slumps'?
See the difference?
And that's just with ONE aspect of your sporadic income.
We haven't even tackled the lead-gen, conversions, sales process, charging, busywork questions yet. Imagine what you could do just on this ONE issue if you became really good at solving your own problems, at Asking Better Questions?
Focus on Better
At Success Engineers, our sole focus is to help you Build a Better Business. We do this together by showing you how to Grow Better, Build Better and BE Better and supporting you through that growth. Because all change for the better starts with behavioural and personal change, and no one does that successfully on their own, not if they're in business for the long game.
In the closing article on this focus of Asking Better Questions and Problem Solving, we'll look at the role valuable Data & Metrics has in helping you get and stay on course, and we'll take a light-touch look at how you Make Better Decisions.
If you've got questions about anything I've covered, just shout! I'm pretty responsive.
To your inevitable success,
Dino Tartaglia is a former Electronics Engineer, now a businessman, mentor, coach and troubleshooter working to help you, if you’re a coach, consultant, creative or service provider, to Build a Joyful, Dependable Business around Being Brilliant at What You Do.
In his own coaching, and together with world-class coach Simon Hartley, the other half of Success Engineers (their joint business), he helps you to improve your thinking to ask better questions, so that you solve the right problems in your business at the right time, develop your own personal performance as a business owner and get closer to What Matters Most.
Stay connected with news and updates!
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason. Ever.