Growth Strategies

Competitive Advantage Through Problem-Solving: The Path to Business Growth

Competitive Advantage Through Problem-Solving

The world is full of problems. And if you own or manage a business, that’s a good thing.

Yes, you read that right. In fact, business in the modern world is all about problems – or, more specifically, finding solutions to problems.

This happens in two key ways: solving internal business problems and addressing consumer pain points. Below, we will discuss how problem-solving in these two areas can give you a competitive advantage and drive your business growth.

If you’re not yet running a business for yourself, you can still leverage the techniques discussed below in showing problem-solving skills on your resume.

Putting Out Fires

If you own your own business or work in management, you may feel like you spend all day “putting out fires” – jumping from one new problem to another.

If that is true in your case, you can consider your experience as good practice. For you, problem-solving is nothing new.

The key, though, is to move past putting out fires. Now it is time to employ your problem-solving skills to seek solutions that prevent “fires” from breaking out in the first place. How?

Look for patterns. Are certain problems recurring? Take a deep dive into what factors lead up to the problems – not only direct cause-and-effect, but also environment, attitudes, and company culture.

For example, your assembly line may be plagued by frequent injuries. Or your computer infrastructure may have been hacked repeatedly. Instead of just looking at the nuts and bolts of the issue—the physical components of the assembly line or the cybersecurity software you use—look for other things that may be creating an environment in which problems can occur. Perhaps the safety culture is lacking or employees do not yet see protecting company data as their personal responsibility.

Now you have identified a larger, systemic issue than the specific “fire.” The next step is to think of ways the company can adjust – taking away the matches before the fire even starts. In these examples, employee training may be the solution.

The fewer fires you have to put out, the more energy can be directed into growth.

Also read: 7 Tips for Making Quality Business Decisions

Plan for Future Problems

Once your immediate “fires” are under control, you can shift your focus to anticipate, prepare for, and avoid future problems.

One way to do this is to track your business’s progress. Explore market trends. Compare customer satisfaction rates and new customer numbers to other businesses in your industry.

It is also advised that you take the time to create a vision and goals for the business. This will keep you on the critical path to growth and avoid business decisions that may actually harm your products, employees, or bottom line.

Consumer Pain Points

Above, we mentioned getting feedback from consumers. Doing so can help you to identify specific pain points your customers encounter when using your products or services.

Merriam-Webster defines a pain point as “a persistent or recurring problem (as with a product or service) that frequently inconveniences or annoys customers.” The dictionary also points out that “when you’re in an established market… their needs and pain points are clearly laid out on your competitor’s review sites.”

In this case, the pain point is the problem you need to solve. What do your customers complain about? What do your competitors point out when claiming their product is better than yours? What complaints do reviewers site on similar products?

Once you’ve identified the pain point, task your research and development team to address it. Often, subtle tweaks can revamp a product or service. At other times, you may need to go back to the drawing board to design an entirely new product.

Retaining your customer base, and expanding on it with the help of positive word-of-mouth marketing from the same, will definitely count positively towards your growth goals.

Also read: How to Use Technology to Promote Business Growth

Pain Points and Niche Markets

Establishing a consumer base in an established market—one filled with huge companies and their deep advertising pockets—can seem like an insurmountable task. But some companies have looked to the overlooked pain points of niche markets to attract under-served customers. Consider some examples.

  • The founder of Loyal had a deep interest in the science of life extension but faced huge regulatory hurdles. So she found a back door into the industry that also attempts to address a niche pain point – that of dog owners distressed by their pets’ short lifespan. Loyal has made strides in medically extending the canine lifespan, with plans to expand into human medicine in the future.
  • Travel enthusiast Zim Ugochukwu founded Travel Noire after finding a few young black travel influencers on Instagram. The company now provides the African diaspora with tools, tips, and group trips to help them feel comfortable exploring the U.S. and the world.
  • Harry’s pain point was that men’s shaving razors cost too much. With underdog storytelling, they started as a mail-order brand that eventually made its way into retail stores. When they noticed women’s interest in their shaving products, they launched a candy-colored sister company called Flamingo.

So, what under-served niche communities are languishing within your consumer base? You can expand your market reach by getting creative with products and services designed just for them.

Key Takeaways

To round up our thoughts, we can see that problem-solving skills can boost the growth of your business in a number of ways, including:

  • Helping you solve immediate problems, such as those that arise on a daily basis. Getting these problems out of the way leaves time to focus on expansion.
  • Analyzing risk, predicting future problems, and taking steps now to manage or avoid them.
  • Creating a business plan, vision, and goals to assist in making decisions that will constantly move your business forward.
  • Keeping current customers by addressing their pain points, and expanding into niche markets by looking for creative and innovative solutions to their unique needs.

With the right staff, partners, and training, you can utilize this commonly sought-after soft skill to give your business or workplace a motivating boost in growth.

Written by
Barrett S

Barrett S is Sr. content manager of The Tech Trend. He is interested in the ways in which tech innovations can and will affect daily life. He loved to read books, magazines and music.

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