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How to Handle the Unexpected

How you deal with crises--big and small--decides how successful your business will be. Are you up to the challenges?

(YoungBiz) - Here's a problem that just about any new 'trep would be happy to face: too much business. But while it sounds like a nice problem to have--and it probably is--it can also wreak havoc on your company if you're not ready to handle it.

Problems are familiar territory for any business owner, like Shazad Mohamed, the 16-year-old president and CEO of GlobalTek Solutions Inc. in Dallas. And since Mohamed founded his business in 1999, plenty of challenges have come his way. Like the time one of his clients was looking for a way to sell its gourmet dog biscuits nationwide: GlobalTek showed the company how to plan, design and create an online store--problem solved. But Mohamed was quick to learn that not all problems come with such ready-made solutions.

Handling the Unexpected
In GlobalTek's early days, Mohamed and his then two employees found themselves in a bind. As word got out about a teen running a computer company, GlobalTek was mentioned in technical business journals as well as a Dallas Morning News article. Mohamed was also interviewed on radio and TV, including MTV.

"After that, things started taking off," he said. "We got some press coverage, and that brought in a lot of new business. It was a volume of business that, frankly, we could not handle."

They had more customers than they could take care of and not enough resources to hire more staff. Mohamed came up with a creative solution: contract employees. By hiring contractors, GlobalTek was able to take on the extra work and continue to build its customer base.

Though Mohamed had one problem solved, another was lurking right around the corner. It was about that time that the industry began to change. The economy slowed, and spending on the kinds of services GlobalTek offers slowed with it. Many companies like GlobalTek laid off employees or went out of business.

Mohamed and his team had a better idea. They used telecommuting--one of the same problem-solving solutions they had been selling to their customers--to improve their own operations. By asking his employees to work from their home offices, Mohamed was able to reduce drastically the company's overhead. Technology tools--such as videoconferencing, e-mail, instant messaging and collaborative portals (workspaces that are shared over the Internet)--helped them work together, despite not being in the same building.

Tag-Teaming Problems
When it comes to solving customer problems, Mohamed takes a team approach. He not only hires talented people--GlobalTek employs 20 full-time and contract employees--but is also committed to making sure those employees' ideas are heard.

When GlobalTek is faced with a problem, Mohamed assigns a team to tackle it. His job, he says, is to find out what each team needs, ensure that they have the resources to complete each project, and provide them with the best technology. The rest is up to the team.

Though solving customer problems in the ever-changing world of technology is never simple, Mohamed and his team enjoy their work. "I love technology, and I love business," Mohamed said. "The whole process of creating interesting technology solutions and seeing them actually help customers is incredibly exciting."

In fact, Mohamed welcomes a good challenge. "The most interesting thing about business is that new challenges come up all the time," he says. "Overcoming problems requires thinking logically and creatively."

Next Step
  • It's not easy figuring out how to run a company when you've never done it before. Check out YoungBiz's article "How to Be a CEO" for some guidance.
  • From building a better business to jumpstarting your sales program, Entrepreneur.com has plenty of solutions to all your business problems in our How-To Guides.
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