An entrepreneur is someone who assumes above average risk for above average gain. It’s no different than being a professional athlete or artist. Entrepreneurs create things of value for the marketplace. Another trait entrepreneurs share is that they like to solve problems and fix things. Gary Gilbert, one of my first mentors at Midas, removed emblems from cars at the age of 13 and painted the car over (it was the thing to do back then.) My son Milo has run lemonade stands before. By fulfilling a need or solving a problem, entrepreneurs get remunerated for that service.
But sometimes, solving a problem is counterproductive. Because when you’re trying to solve every problem you can, solving a problem is seen as an opportunity. That perspective is dangerous to have all the time, because when you’re constantly trying to repair situations, you’re in that reactive mode. Problem fixing mode is very easy to get stuck in. More opportunity exists in creating things that aren’t there than by solving things that are there and need fixing.
In order to create value, you have to create something that didn’t exist before. If you’re always working on the problems that come up, you’re not creating anything – you’re responding to existing situations. The law of the universe states that you’ll magnify what you focus on in your life. This means that focusing on what’s wrong with your business is a guaranteed way to stay stuck. If you’re always fixing, you’re never creating. You can’t be in repair mode and creation mode at the same time.
When you create something of value, you’re always starting from scratch. At the end of the day, the difference between what you create and what you consume is how productive you were that day. Make sure you’re putting in as much time in creative, ‘working on your business’ mode as you are in problem solving ‘fixing your business’ mode.
You can be busy all day long and not get anything productive done. It’s very easy to get trapped in the inertia of being busy. We’ve got to recognize as entrepreneurs that effort and results are not always directly correlated. In some cases, working longer and harder doesn’t get more done. If you find yourself jumping into the trenches every day without ever measuring the results your efforts are producing, you may eventually think you’re in the wrong business. But what it’s really about is that you’re working it the wrong way.
If you focus on your problems, you exacerbate your problems. I’ll give you an example of this that happened to me just this morning. I’m laying down some new grass along my backyard fence. I’ve laid down seed for my new patch of grass 4 times so far, but my bulldog Victor has acquired a taste for digging up fresh seed. If I just lay down the seed again, he’ll just dig it up again. So laying down the seed is making myself busy, but it won’t get me any results in the end. (Busy, not productive.) For me, training Victor not to dig up the grass is the real way to solve this problem. And it has nothing to do with laying the grass. Sometimes the solution to a problem is totally different than what you think it is.
Training a dog not to dig up a garden instead of seeding it again fixes the root problem and will yield the desired result of a full yard of grass. It’s a productive solution instead of just getting busier to fix the problem. In this case, you have to think outside the box and realize the solution has nothing to do with the problem itself. And I had to ask myself: how many times am I going to yell at the dog? Nothing’s going to change if I do that.
Today, look at the part of your business that you’re not getting the results you want from. Focus on creating a solution that eliminates the problem instead of trying to fix the problem. Myself, I’m going to look for mentorship online about how I can train Victor not to go into my garden and rip up my grass seed. I’ll look for toys he can play with that will take his mind off of the grass. I’ll look to create a solution rather than fixing the problem. They may sound like the same thing, but they’re not – one is proactive, and one is reactive. One is me being productive, and one is me being busy. Which one will you be today?