The Solution to the Problem

Did you ever have someone always come to you with a problem? This could be a friend, a business associate, or a fellow employee. They present a problem or in a conversation say “the problem is” … but what is the missing piece? It is a suggested solution.

I recently spoke with a nurse that was set to meet with her supervisor to discuss issues that related to patient care. Prior to her meeting, our conversation started with – the problem is when they bring the trays up, the coffee spills on the sugar and it’s gross. It bothers me to give this to the patient. Not only are we providing patient care but because meals are cold, we are having to heat them one at a time. This is affecting our capability to provide quality care and impacting the patient’s ability to heal because of unsatisfactory nourishment. She had a laundry list of issues and as I listened, I asked, “What’s the solution?”

The nurse thought about my question and proceeded to offer ways that could improve a patient’s experience and provide solutions to her concerns. Before her meeting with the supervisor, she put a wet condiment packet from a food tray where coffee had spilled in a baggie took it with her to the meeting. The supervisor was unaware of many of her concerns, but what helped her cause was the fact that she provided an example of why it bothered her to serve a patient a try with a condiment that “looked gross” as well as offered solutions. The outcome…. some of her suggestions have been implemented.

An engineering colleague spoke of an entirely different situation where a junior engineer is choosing to not step up to the plate with solutions to work situations. After a number of years of working for him, the junior engineer still comes to him wanting answers to problems he is qualified to solve. The junior engineer has been asked to get his PE, but he says he doesn’t want that responsibility. The lack of drive and the ability to want to problem solve will eventually hurt his career. The senior engineer indicated the junior engineer has the right answer, but doesn’t want to offer the solution. He would rather allow someone else make that decision for him. Many senior engineers will be retiring soon and he told the young engineer that in the not-too-distant future, he would HAVE to make decisions because they wouldn’t be there to ask.

Problems and solutions in two different industries… but very different outcomes.

What steps should you take to become a problem solver?

  • Identify and define the problem. Break apart the situation and identify a root cause of the problem. Document how the process currently flows and identify how the problem is impacting your ability to effectively perform your job.
  • Look at various software tools, operational shifts, and changes in policy that would impact the situation.
  • Offer multiple alternatives that could be modified to determine a best outcome.
  • Evaluate alternatives. Include affected parties to garner feedback and buy in for the solution.
  • Sell your solution to leadership or if you are the business owner affected staff.
  • Implement and reevaluate proposed solutions allowing for feedback and/or modification.

At the end of the day are you going to be a problem solver or a person who doesn’t want to take the responsibility to improve customer service, operations and ultimately help a business be better? I challenge you to evaluate your conversations to see if you can shift your mindset to offer solutions to today’s problems.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior-level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

There’s an App for That!

Apps can serve a variety of purposes – entertainment, productivity and even find your phone when you lose it! It seems like you can get lost in the app store trying to find the best fit for your needs. From accounting software to video conferencing and marketing apps, there are tons of options available in your app store to help you with productivity, efficiency, and communication.

As business owners, we are always thinking about ways to streamline, process and track activities in everyday business. With tablets and cell phones, business is on the go now more than ever. The digital age has offered up a myriad of tools to enhance creativity and productivity. Technology continues to evolve at the speed of light and new apps are being developed every day. The flexibility and reliability of moving from desktop to your mobile devices allow business owners to manage tasks on the go.

Mobile apps are powerful and can help your business run more smoothly. They can help improve daily operations, organize ideas, manage travel expenses, automate tasks, to name a few. If you can think of ways to run your business more easily, there’s probably an app to help you do so.

In a recent blog on Productivity, Constant Contact shared the 17 Productivity apps that can make an impact in both business and your personal lives.

How many do you use?

Once you’ve established an app that you feel works, evaluate the product with staff and share with them the vision you have and how it will improve their jobs. Get feedback for their buy-in and/or allow them to offer up alternative apps they may know that you haven’t discovered.

Habits are hard to break, but many apps have trial periods or basic users in order for you to determine if the fit is right for you and your business. The key is once you land on an app, that you incorporate its usage into your everyday business for it to be effective and you to reap the benefit of efficiency. Create procedures and processes as necessary to implement the app and evaluate its effectiveness.

Don’t settle for “we’ve always done it this way” when there can be a better way through the use of technology. I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone and find an app that will streamline your business, improve productivity, and increase profits.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior-level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

Add Some Fun to Your Marketing Efforts

It’s safe to say that during the course of 2020, businesses had to adapt and learn how to do things differently. While some were able to step outside the box and pivot, other businesses closed their doors. One thing that was consistent across the board is the fact that business as usual took on a whole new meaning.

Through my relationship with Bridgeway Capital, I work with several new business owners who are reaching for the stars in their quest for business ownership. One of the lessons learned is that growing your business requires PATIENCE!

Building your tribe can be done through a variety of methods. Social media is a great way to develop a following and share news, events and sales, but it requires consistency and planning. One of the keys to success is to find out where your customers hang out and become active in that space. Written content, videos, podcasting, print ads, google ads, billboards and more leaves one to wonder where to spend their advertising dollars.

When business owners take the time to identify holidays, sale timeframes, class offerings and customer appreciation events and open houses, to develop a marketing plan for the year, it helps guide not only the messaging, but also ad focuses. For example, many publications are running back to school focuses for August. If your business sells to that market, you will already be planning your ads and social media content. September is Healthy Aging month targeting seniors and by the first of August you will be planning out that strategy.

Some ideas for inspiration for B2C businesses.

  • Host a grand opening party or a customer appreciation event.
  • Become part of a community scavenger hunt.
  • Create a customer loyalty program.
  • Offer a Back-to-School sale.
  • Partner with a nonprofit organization to support a cause.

Although these types of activities require planning, by partnering with others you can share in advertising costs and increase exposure through cross promotion of each other’s customer lists.

For B-to-B businesses, hosting educational events, networking and partnering with complimenting businesses to expand your brand and create awareness are good marketing strategies. People want to do business with those they know, like and trust. For some of the clients we work with sharing “get to know our staff posts” have resulted in high social media engagement.

If you haven’t already done so, I challenge you to list the remaining months of 2021 on paper and identify each month your marketing focus, activities and outreach that you will execute to grow your business.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior-level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

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