Can’t see the wood for the trees?
While mentoring and coaching, I come across so many business owners who struggle with different business challenges and they sometimes just can’t see the wood for the trees.
As a business owner it’s expected that you’re across all aspects of your business, including all the challenges that running a business presents. When you’re so close to your business, it can be very difficult to look at it objectively.
Have you ever had that feeling of walking in the forest but not really being able to see the trees?
Let me explain.
I’m a keen cyclist, mountain biker and triathlete and when I look back at some of my best business ideas or business problem solving solutions, they occurred while I was riding, running or swimming. They didn’t happen when I was sitting at my desk, or in a team meeting, they occurred when I was riding my bike through a national park, or swimming in the ocean or a lake.
While exercising, I had removed myself from the normal day-to-day and placed myself in an environment where I could think about my business from afar.
Imagine you are standing in a field and the business is ‘over there’ on the other side of the field and you are looking at it from afar.
In your mind, remove yourself from the title and position you hold within the business. Don’t think of yourself as the owner. Just view the business from afar as its own entity.
When you have a clear mental image of the business ‘over there’ and you are standing afar looking at it, that’s the time to take the next step and deal with the challenges you’re facing.
The next step is to use a white board. Yes, I know it’s old school, but it’s a great skill to get those thoughts that are floating around in your brain out of your head and onto a white board that you can stand in front of and look at.
Write down the challenges the business is facing.
Then draw a box around each challenge. Repeat the process until you have all the current challenges listed on the board.
Step away from time to time and again visualise the business from afar and make sure the challenges you have captured represent what they are to the business. This process may take a few hours or a few days but stick with it.
Assess if any of these challenges are the same as others and can they be combined? But, it’s really important to keep each challenge in its own box.
Now let’s go back to the idea of standing on that field looking at the business from afar. Now that you have your thoughts clearly written on the whiteboard, you can see the business and you can also see the various challenges in their own separate boxes.
Your next step is to use a priority scale of 1 to 5. Five holds the greatest priority (and possibly the most urgent priority), down to number one, which is the lowest priority.
Give each challenge on your whiteboard a ranking of 1 to 5. If some have the same ranking, then ask yourself which one you should tackle first to bring the most benefit to the business.
Now that you have ranked your challenges and identified which holds the highest priority, you can plan your action steps to solve, fix or improve each one. At this stage you have captured and clarified your thoughts on the challenges facing the business.
Depending on the size of your business, it’s a really good idea to get your staff and support team involved in this exercise because they may have ideas you hadn’t thought of.
Communicate to the team within your business what the challenges and priorities are and what action steps are to be taken. Most importantly, every now and again visit that field and look at the business from afar. Always allow yourself the opportunity to remove yourself from your business and do this activity which allows you gain some perspective.
Allow your awareness to grow.