Mr. Business Owner – Suck it Up! You’re a Freakin’ Problem Solver!

by Chris C. Ducker · 38 comments

Being an entrepreneur, and in the early days of starting a business is much like being a duck on a pond.

Everything looks great above the water as the duck’s body (the business) glides effortlessly along the surface, with its beak standing out proud – whilst below the surface, the duck’s legs (the business owner) are peddling at 180mph to try and make sure that everything looks good above the water.

Over the weekend I was having lunch with a few friends at my house. It was the first time we’ve had guests around since I came out of spine surgery. There were 4 couples in attendance. Some good food, a little wine and some great conversations were on the horizon. I was really looking forward to it.

But, it was almost ruined for me, by one of the guys that was there - until I intervened.

Problems, Problems and More Problems!

My buddy (name witheld to protect the entrepreneurial innocent!) started his real estate business about a year ago, focusing on the higher-end market locally. We’ve met several times in the last 12-months and all he had to say was how well the business was going, that he wasn’t experiencing any major issues with marketing to the local cliental, or competition, etc. Everything sounded great!

However, on this occasion he took it upon himself to spoil as much of the first hour of the get-together as possible – by moaning, arguing (with himself mostly!) and generally admitting that all was not so calm on the pond, after all.

He was having problems with local competing real estate brokers and agencies.

He was having on-going problems with property owners that he rents places for, as well as property owners that want to get the best deal in utilizing his company to help sell their houses and condos.

And lastly, he was having major problems when dealing with potential tenants and buyers – having him run all over town, showing them this condo unit and that house, one after another – all in the blistering heat that currently is Cebu’s awesome summer season. This problem alone was the biggest for him as he felt that he didn’t have enough time to be able to strategize for growth, which was to be his major focus this year.

I simply had one thing to say to him…

Welcome to the World of Entrepreneurship.

With Problems, Come Solutions!

I learned a long time ago that the higher up the corporate ladder you climb, the bigger the problems that you have to deal with. God forbid, you decide to become a business owner yourself! At that point you’re the head honcho, the CEO, the President – whatever you want to call yourself.

Slice of ‘Reality Pie’, however – you’re the main problem solver!!! That’s it.

And as entrepreneurs, thats EXACTLY what we should be looking to embrace – solving problems for people (AKA. our customers). The more problems we solve, the more success our businesses become.

So, I sat down with my buddy for about 30mins, and these are the points that we worked on together as business solutions for small businesses, and ended up putting into place a bit of a ‘Mission List’, as he started calling it:

#1 – Stop Wasting Time

Firstly, he needed to sort through the ‘decent’ prospective tenants and buyers when they came in, only picking out the ones that he felt the most confident about becoming ‘A-List’ clients. He would then pass on the others to his assistant (who is good, and can work well when given instructions, I’ve met her on several occasions).

#2 – Tell People Why They Need You

He’s going to put together a ‘Why You NEED Me’ package (focusing on his USP) to give the owners that he works with, in helping them sell or rent their property. No more wasting time answering the same silly questions, or having to run around getting this document, and that piece of information together.

Everything is to be pre-arranged in a package that not only looks super professional, but also answers all the questions he runs into, in regards to these specific relationships all the time. The rest he can update on the FAQ section of his website (which is good).

#3 – Screw the Competition!

Local competition. Screw them!!! Nobody has the experience he does, that I know of.

The fact of the matter is, however, that its a local market, where the local, Filipino real estate brokers are very much in bed together (some even ‘working’ clients and splitting commissions, etc.). But, there is one MAJOR feather in my friends cap – he’s a foreigner (American). And the very large majority of the prospects that contact him are foreigners, too. So, he will leverage that with a new ‘no holds barred’ approach to relationship building and conversions through social media and other online channels.

These tips for marketing a small business, coupled together with a well run ship and a professional mindset should make all the difference.

#4 – Daily ‘Strategizing’ Time

His goal was/is to focus on growing his business this year. With the other points above, after a while of taking care of teething issues and ironing out the inevitable bumps that come with ‘change’, he should have spare time, every day, to work on his goal for 2012.

As mentioned, he’ll start becoming more active in social media, he’ll start blogging, shooting regular videos on the local scene here in Cebu, along with property ‘walk-thru’ clips  to put on his website and Facebook page, etc.

This is What We DO!

If you look carefully above you’ll see that the ‘problems’ as well as the ‘solutions’ I helped define for my friend’s business, can basically be successfully merged into ANY business – online, or offline.

They revolve around the following BASIC business principles:

  • Don’t waste time.
  • Make sure your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is clearly defined and communicated.
  • Keep an eye on the competition – but, work SMART to beat ‘em.
  • Never stop planning for growth and expansion.

This is the entrepreneurial way of life.

Solving problems is right there at the top of the list. The thing is, from time to time we get frustrated dealing with the daily grind of running a business. And that IS what you’re doing for the first couple of years of any new venture – deal with the daily grind.

If you think being your own boss means checking your email whilst enjoying your morning coffee, publishing a blog post and then logging into Paypal in the evening to count your millions – think again!

After you’ve been in business for a while and you’ve achieved a certain level of success (and we all define success differently, remember that!), we can start developing plans to remove ourselves from our businesses a little. This might begin with just working in different locations. But, could develop into full blown trips away for a month at a time, or simply working from home four days a week and spending one full day in the office – its different for everyone.

So, the next time you get pissed off with dealing with a pain-in-the-butt client, or stressed out with competition copying an idea of yours, or with staff screwing up, or with suppliers raising prices on you, or with your better half moaning at you for not spending enough time with the kids – just breathe. Think about how to solve those problems, and then deal with them.

Become good at solving problems, and you WILL make it in the business world.

Have you come up with any solutions to business problems recently? Are you struggling with some right now, that perhaps the VBL Community could help you with? If so, we’d love to hear your insights and comments below.

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Tshepo Mashigo April 16, 2012 at 19:19

You Sir! Have slapped me right across the face with the title alone lol.
I tweeted “If i could split myself into 4 people, i would be much happier.” and 5mins later your tweet came out with this…

Thanks Chris. Back in focus mode now…

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Chris C. Ducker April 17, 2012 at 00:42

Happy to slap you, buddy!
:-)

Now, go make something happen…

C

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Ian Robinson April 16, 2012 at 19:47

Problem solving isn’t just the name of the game for entrepreneurs, it’s also important for every aspect of your life!

Bullies? Problem solve.
No girlfriend? Problem solve.
Bad Health? Problem solve.
Boring Existence? Problem solve.

The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that you take on so many more problems that you become an expert at solving problems. This capacity to manage problems will recycle through everything you must overcome.

Thanks for the post Chris!

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Chris C. Ducker April 17, 2012 at 00:43

Great points, Ian.

You’re right – I’ve used the concepts of solutions to problems in the work place in real life many, many times.

Thanks for the insights.

C

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Carrie April 16, 2012 at 19:54

Great post Chris- the most important for me is #4. When you enjoy some early success, it’s really easy to stop planning for the future- but that needs to be part of your daily/weekly/monthly habit (in different forms) in order to continue to grow and be successful. It’s a great reminder at the beginning of the week!

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Chris C. Ducker April 17, 2012 at 00:45

Glad to help out, Carrie.

Being consistent on your pursuit for success in business is certainly one of the most important traits of any entrepreneur.

Some might struggle with it, but those that STICK with it achieve the most success, by far.

Thanks for dropping by.

C

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Valerie Joy Deveza April 16, 2012 at 20:11

Great article Chris! I admit sometimes doing it all freaks me out! I’m delegating some of my tasks to my VA now. I’m trying to focus more on getting more clients for my biz. :)

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Chris C. Ducker April 17, 2012 at 00:46

I love it that you are now delegating to your own VA, Valerie.

Good for you.

Onwards and upwards. Keep rockin’…

C

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Mirek Burnejko April 16, 2012 at 20:11

Great post. It’s nice to hear advices from guy like Chris. I will use these 4 steps as my new mantra. Thanks and I can’t wait for more.

I would really want to know where you find energy to do not waste your time.
Thanks, Mirek.

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Chris C. Ducker April 17, 2012 at 00:48

Hi Mirek

Hard work is what it’s all about. I’m lucky to be possessed with energy flowing out of my ears!!!

Keep your head down, work hard and it will come your way, buddy.

Thanks for the nice comment.

C

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Mirek Burnejko April 17, 2012 at 03:45

Thank you so much. I was listening today your podcast Outsource to the Philippines. Great, great work. I will for sure use your Virtual Staff Finder with my new project.
Great work.

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Chris C. Ducker April 17, 2012 at 16:21

Hi again, Mirek.

Great – appreciate the kind words.

We look forward to working with you once you’re ready to rock! :-)

C

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Wayne Edward Clarke April 16, 2012 at 22:22

Great post Chris. At your consulting rates, your buddy owes you $250. I hope he pays you, lol!

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Chris C. Ducker April 17, 2012 at 00:49

Me too, Wayne!!!

In fact, I’m sure he has already – in beer, over the years I’ve known him!

Glad you enjoyed the post.

C

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Steve Wyman April 17, 2012 at 00:46

Hi Chris

An excellent artucle and as always using a real world example (case study :-)) to illustarte the points is great.

I really liked the way you came up with #1 thats an excellent xolution. Not unlike outsourcing (insourcing) tasks that are easily managed or time consuming with respect to ROI to somebody otehr than the business owner.

I’m sure many here will find this advice invaluable.

regards

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Chris C. Ducker April 17, 2012 at 00:52

Thanks, Steve.

I really appreciate your kind words and feedback. It’s this type of comment that I love to get, because it means that YOU ‘got it’ and that means a lot.

Yep – real life case studies are the best posts, as far as I’m concerned. I have many of them ‘in the attic’, and feel like I’m gonna be posting more of them in the future….

Thanks again, mate.

C

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Dean Soto April 17, 2012 at 03:14

Chris,

Dude, great re-framing! It’s hard not to feel that way though. The picture that a lot of online entrepreneurs give is the whole “I quit my job and I love every second of life.” Because of that, most new (and some veteran) business owners have the expectation that it’s going to be totally easy. But great point that when there is a problem, that means that there is an opportunity for a solution, and point #4 is where you would definitely figure out how to exploit that opportunity.

Loving it,

Dean

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Chris C. Ducker April 17, 2012 at 16:23

Hi Dean

Thats the thing – this is a story about an OFFLINE business – yet, the principles can be merged to online business easily.

Business, in ANY form is nothing from easy. It takes hard work, massive amounts of perseverance, balls (if I was to be totally frank!) and an element, every now and then, of good luck.

Glad you enjoy, matey and look forward to more of your insights in the future, too.

C

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Mike April 17, 2012 at 11:53

I absolutely agree with you Chris!

Being a business owner involves being able to solve problems and not complain about them arising. If everyone complained about the things that were bothering them, imagine how much gibberish we would be hearing around us!

PS. I really liked the post LOL!

Mike

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Chris C. Ducker April 17, 2012 at 16:20

Hi Mike

Glad you liked the post and was able to resonate with it a little.

Gibberish, indeed – PROMISE, none of that hear on VBL, thats for sure! :-)

Thanks for dropping by.

C

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Garry April 17, 2012 at 18:57

This is my favourite post of yours so far Chris. Having recently sold one business to a big brand, I am now in the daily grind phase on a new one and even though I know these things already it’s really inspirational to be reminded of them, thanks!

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Chris C. Ducker April 18, 2012 at 20:39

Hi Garry

Glad you enjoyed the post.

Congrats on the recent sell and good luck on your newest venture. Keep me posted on it!

C

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Jan April 17, 2012 at 22:43

I can totally relate to your friend Chris! I juggle my time between being a VA, a mom, and an internet marketer and I struggle to find a balance between the three. Being an Internet Marketer right now is my biggest challenge because I can’t seem to find the time to go for my projects. I’ll have to ‘strategize’ as I have mortgage payments coming up. LOL!

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Chris C. Ducker April 18, 2012 at 20:43

Hi Jan

Well, first up – after being a Mom, your mortgage is the most important thing, obviously – and because you’re a Mom.

Balance is tough, especially when you have clients to take care of (another important thing – because of your mortgage!), and want to work on your own projects, too. Do your best and God will take care of the rest – or, you could get a VA…..?!! :-)

C

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Elmer Shore April 18, 2012 at 04:37

Problems in business and in personal life are both good, depends on how you look at the dillemma whether as an opportunity to solve it for the better that creates a win-win situation for both parties involve or complain about it. But as for me, I choose the former rather than the latter part.

Competition is a good thing, it keeps prices in check and consumers to have choices in where they buy a product, property or service.

But the real competion really is that reflection on the mirror, everytime you get up on the morning, not so much out there, as to what the market is doing, but rather what are you doing that could make difference in someone’s day in order to make him/her happy in doing business with you and referring your services to their friends and neighbors.

As a former realtor tax advisor here in U.S. when I get back there in Cebu, I may just practice real estate there, too, and see what the housing market is like. Btw, I’m still very fluent in speaking visayan and tagalog languages and some other dialects.

So looking forward to going there real soon…maraming salamat.

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Chris C. Ducker April 18, 2012 at 20:46

Hi Elmer

Thanks for the insights and good luck with your plans to ‘come home’ It’s changed a lot in the last 10-years now. But, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the changes you experience.

And you’re right about competition – it does keep prices in line. Although, price wars are sometimes inevitable, I’m a believe that they only affect the weaker player in the ‘game’.

C

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Matt john Canty April 18, 2012 at 09:33

Totally agree. When your in business its guaranteed that problems will arise. Before when I was still new to having a full time business, lt seemed that every problem was magnified. It seemed like one day things were going fine and we were super happy then the next day we had a problem and we were super depressed. Needless to say we knocked out most of our problems now and its much smoother but when things do go wrong we seem to be able to deal with them much better these days. It is true if your in business and cant deal with problems and with things not always going your way your probably in the wrong game. One way or another something WILL go wrong and you need to be the one to deal with it no passing the buck your fellow employee like in a job because let me tell you it wont get done. Great post Chris cheers!

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Chris C. Ducker April 18, 2012 at 20:48

Hey Matt

Appreciate you dropping by and for the insights.

I know you guys have struggled down there from time to time, but you’ve stuck at it – and ANY entrepreneur will be impressed by that.

I’ve found that the more problems I have learned from the more confident and cocky (sometimes a bad thing, so be careful!) I have become in business, and life in general.

I absolutely LOVE solving problems. It simply gets my juices flowing!
:-)

C

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Rick Resch April 18, 2012 at 13:25

The first definition of Intelligence in the dictionary says: “the ability to learn and understand, or to solve problems.” So the more problems you solve, the smarter you get. That is why being an entrepreneur requires great intelligence. That is why I enjoy being an entrepreneur. I want to be a problem solver.
I enjoyed this post and I like templates where you use them in a specific problem and plug in the appropriate answer to solve the problem. At least that is how I look at it when I have a problem. That is why you have systems too, to streamline a process after solving all the problems to make it flow. You know the answer everytime you have a problem because you worked the bugs out of it.
I learned about this when I was in the U.S. Army and had to troubleshoot a problem on a vehicle that I drove. You followed a system and it led to a problem and the correct solution. It was foolproof.
I hope your surgery was successful by the way. Take care Chris!

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Chris C. Ducker April 18, 2012 at 20:52

Hi Rick

So nice to see you commenting again at VBL – they (your comments) are few and far between, but I always enjoy reading them!

Systems are great – most of the times. But every now and then they will ‘test’ us. And we must be ready for those tests to be able to react to them properly… fundamentally resolving another problem. Great, isn’t it! :-)

Surgery – went okay. Recovery – a different, slightly longer, more drawn out story! But, getting there!

Thanks again.

C

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Adam Stanecki April 19, 2012 at 10:53

If owning and operating a business were easy, everyone would be doing it. I’m thankful that it isn’t easy because that means people like us get the spoils.

Some thoughts:
– Competition is for the 80s and 90s. It’s now about collaboration.
– Having a USP is great, but it’s more important to have a story.
– Your language will define your community and your clientele – choose your words wisely.
– Plans are nothing without execution.
– Complaining gets you nowhere.
– Just make the decision and deal with the consequences whether positive or negative.

Thank again for a thought-provoking post, Chris!

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Chris C. Ducker April 19, 2012 at 20:19

Hi Adam

Great additional input, mate.

Particularly liked your mention of competition being so 80s and 90s… Teaming up is way more fun that butting heads, isn’t it!?

Appreciate your support.

C

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Lewis LaLanne@mynotetakingnerd.com April 19, 2012 at 14:14

One of my favorite lessons I’ve learned that’s extremely relevant to the life of an entrepreneur is the premise that “All News is Good News”. This is nothing more than a spin off of Napoleon Hill’s “Within every adversity lies the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” And both of these fold right into the next level of empowerment that frames the entrepreneur as a problem solver.

And if you’re out to make a mighty impact on the world you can expect a ton of challenges to show up. And I believe a high number of the people who don’t own these beliefs are part of the 96% of all businesses that never see their 10th birthday (stats for here in the U.S.). But with people like you Chris who are bringing consciousness to this topic, more people can transform themselves from being victims to being heroes.

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Chris C. Ducker April 19, 2012 at 20:18

Thanks, Lewis.

Appreciate the comment and feedback.

I agree – changing the world aint an easy thing to do… But, its great fun trying!!!

C

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ralph@cantankerousoldcoots April 23, 2012 at 01:16

Chris,
Maybe problems don’t make you happy but they also are signals that something is working, you have clients, somebody notices you and what you do. And it means that you solved the first problem of putting yourself out there and claiming attention. Problems are a success message.

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Chris C. Ducker April 23, 2012 at 18:56

Could.

Not.

Agree.

More.

Thanks, Ralph!!! :-)

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Sergio Felix April 26, 2012 at 08:00

Hey Chris,

One word: AWESOMENESS!!!

I recently started providing offline services and to my disbelief, our first client upsold themselves from $500 USD to $1,500.00 USD.

To save my time, I built three different packages and I made them public with prizes and everything (no call us to request a quote stuff)

About solving problems, I am having people interested in designing their own sites (custom-made) so instead of looking at it as a problem, I’m re-learning coding again (I quit that a long time ago) and trying to teach my partner some of it as well so he can chime in too.

To fight our competitors, our USP is that you’re hiring a Systems Engineer + an e-Marketing Director.

Just from the two of us, hold more than 10 IT credentials mixed with many years of e-Marketing experience and our prizes start at a very low fee.

I still haven’t promoted the site yet, locally or offline (not 100% ready yet) and there’s a ton of people asking us for help.

So to sum all of this up, I think that embracing a problem and finding its solution, is essential for success (at least for service-based businesses).

How’s the recovery coming along, everything good now? Man, you’re a bull! Take care! ;-)

Sergio

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Sergio Felix April 26, 2012 at 15:23

Oh Chris,

I completely forgot to tell you about two ninja tips for offline marketing that I recently learned and that focuses on “Pain Marketing” and this addresses #2, your UPS (I think).

Disclaimer: I saw these on a guy on video but I can’t remember who it was.

You just tell your prospects this (nothing more, nothing less):

(If they are making a lousy job)

1. “Your competitors are getting your customers”.

(And if they are already in business)

2. “You’re paying way too much”.

(that last one is like magic btw)

I just started applying this strategy myself and people want to pay me even before hearing any more details.

Cool stuff right? ;-)

Sergio

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