Entrepreneurs Solve Problems Differently Than Other Professionals. Really! Here Are the 6 Ways. Entrepreneurs stay calm. They adapt. They work from the general to the specific. And more.

entrepreneur daily
Shutterstock

Problem-solving is one of the most important aspects of entrepreneurship. As both the founder of your organization and the leader of your team, you'll be responsible for identifying and solving the problems of your customers, partners, employees and your company, in general.

Related: Don't Just Start a Business, Solve A Problem

The question might be posed as to whether successful entrepreneur-problem-solvers use their natural talents to find success, or whether those skills are cultivated after years of experience. But, either way, I would maintain that successful entrepreneurs think about and solve problems differently from most other professionals.

How is this problem solving process distinctive, and how can you apply that difference to your own work habits? And what's different about entrepreneurs-as-problem-solvers in the first place? Here are six ways:

1.They identify problems first.

Some people think of entrepreneurial types as creative inventors; given a blank canvas, they can come up with a product that people will love. But that's not usually the case. Instead, the most successful entrepreneurs are those who first identify a key problem in the market, then work to solve that problem.

Airbnb, for example, started when its two founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, realized that two problems existed in the same business area; one, they themselves were having trouble affording rent in New York; and two, nearly all the hotel rooms in the city were consistently booked. Those founders didn't come up with their idea out of thin air; they recognized two key problems, and devised a solution to solve both simultaneously.

2.They stay calm.

According to a study by TalentSmart, 90 percent of top performers are able to manage their emotions successfully when they experience high levels of stress. This isn't a coincidence: When you allow your emotions to get the better of you when facing a problem, you subject yourself to reactive decision-making, and lose touch with your logical side. Accordingly, you make poorer decisions, and in some cases, may look bad in front of your employees.

Of course, "staying calm" when you face a major issue is, itself, a major issue. It takes years of practice and self-discipline to learn how to prevent your emotions from taking over. You need the kind of perspective that only high-stress experiences can give you. That perspective? No problem, by itself, is unconquerable or incapable of being solved through alternative approaches.

3.They start with the general and work toward the specific.

When addressing a problem, most people get caught up in the details, but successful entrepreneur-strategists tend to think about problems more generally before working down to the specific details. For example, if entrepreneurs' cars break down on the side of the road, they aren't immediately concerned with the peculiarities of the engine that led to its malfunction; instead, they recognize that the car isn't drivable, and work to get it to the shoulder -- and safety.

Related: 8 Problem-Solving Practices That See Startups to Success

This approach helps you see the high-level nature (and consequences) of your current problem, giving you a reliable context for solving it.

4.They adapt.

Successful entrepreneurs are also willing to adapt to solve a problem; they aren't beholden to the image, processes or lines of thinking that got them into the problem in the first place.

For example, Nokia -- probably best known as the top cell phone provider in the world between 1998 and 2012 -- started out as a paper company that later transitioned to producing rubber tires and galoshes (as the needs of its customers changed). When the demand rose for military and emergency service radio phones, Nokia transitioned again and started making those devices, eventually selling off its paper and rubber divisions.

In short, faced with changing available resources, market demand and competition, Nokia reinvented itself rather than remaining stagnant or applying old rubrics to new problems.

5.They delegate and distribute.

Entrepreneurs also know they aren't the most effective problem-solvers on their own; instead, most problems are best handed over to specialists who better understand those problems. Accordingly, when an entrepreneur faces a tough decision or a difficult situation, he or she typically delegates the judgment needed to an expert and calls in help to carry out that expert's solution as efficiently as possible.

Entrepreneurs also aren't afraid to delegate authority to the internal hires they trust, and aren't hesitant to spend money on external firms and consultants if that solution will solve the problem faster and more efficiently.

6.They measure outcomes and reflect.

Successful entrepreneurs actually do more than just solve the problem. After applying a fix, they spend time measuring the results of their efforts with analytics tools, and reflecting on those outcomes. Learning from the approach they've chosen, whether it turns out to be a success or failure, is what equips them to make even better decisions in the future.

So, if you aren't an entrepreneur in your own right, there's much you can gain from adopting the problem-solving tactics of someone who is -- someone who's a success at both entrepreneurship and decision-making.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is Not About Problem-Solving

Applying different modes of thinking and new leadership styles, and being open to more potential problem-solving options are the strategies that will help you solve problems more thoroughly, and reap better long-term results.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Starting a Business

How Can You Make Sure Your Business Will Survive Anything? Try These 3 Proven Strategies

No matter how uncertain the economy is, you can survive anything as long as you prepare. Here are a few strategies to consider.

Business News

State Attorney Generals Sue RealPage, Landlords Over 'Astronomical' Rent Hikes: 'This Was Not A Fair Market At Work'

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes alleges that the $9 billion software company RealPage helped create a "rental monopoly" in the state.

Marketing

7 Ways to Create a Seamless Marketing Campaign Across All Platforms

Achieving cross-platform harmony requires strategic goal-setting, customized content optimization, and a mix of paid and organic efforts.

Business News

Grads From This Midwestern School Are More Likely to Start a Billion Dollar Company Than Founders Who Went To Stanford, Harvard, or MIT: Study

Some surprising schools outranked Ivy League universities with the likelihood that their grads would found a unicorn.

Side Hustle

Getting Laid Off Allowed Him to Focus on His Sentimental Side Hustle. Now He's on Track to Earn Over $700,000 in 2024.

Alaa El Ghatit wasn't fulfilled at his day job. So he started LifeOnRecord to help people record memories and well wishes.