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Tackle Business Problems Before They Throw You for a Loss

Challenges will occur, but they're less of an obstacle if you plan on them.

Small business owners have many titles — boss, financial manager and primary customer contact, among others. One title that is rarely publicized is that of chief problem solver. Sometimes this means finding ways to overcome the many challenges involved with starting and growing a successful business. Others are not so pleasant. There may be impending cash crunches that may force you to seek more capital or curb operations, disputes among employees, or even a legal claim against your business.

Recognizing a business challenge early is the first step to removing a success roadblock. Many challenges can be faced before they grow into problems, which require attention in a crisis. Begin by trying to anticipate problems before they occur. Develop a plan to handle a few critical issues that could be disruptive to the business. By mapping out a solution plan, you can quickly move from a problem occurred (let’s analyze it) to the plan (here’s the plan), to solving it (let’s get to work).

For new or existing problems, gather as much information as you can about them. Determine elements of the problem, possible causes and effects. Evaluate the significance of the issue. Frame solutions to match the level and complexity of the problem. Develop a list of possible solutions. Make a list of possible solutions both your own and those of employees or your trusted advisers. After you have the list of solutions, eliminate those that are not feasible and arrive at the most logical and effective solution for the situation.


Santa Barbara SCORE meets every Wednesday, from 8:30-11:30 a.m., at 402 E. Gutierrez St., Santa Barbara. No appointment is necessary. For more information, call 805.563.0084, visit  or register for counseling at In addition, the Santa Barbara SCORE Chapter publishes a great tool for aspiring entrepreneurs, How to Start a Business in Santa Barbara County.

Without a plan of action — well thought out and executive — your effort will be wasted. You don’t have time for such unproductive activities. Be proactive and look for ways to prepare for the unexpected. You can’t address every business contingency, but you can identify your top 10 concerns or business issues, which is where you focus your efforts.

Many potential problems can be avoided simply by creating a written business plan that outlines your business and financial goals for the year and maps out how you plan to achieve those goals. The business plan can contain an appendix for you and your management team that focuses on one
more specific issue of concern, as well as planned responses for what would otherwise be unexpected events.

You can plug into a wealth of business know-how by contacting your Santa Barbara chapter of SCORE  “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” SCORE counselors offer free, confidential advice about every aspect of starting, running and growing a successful business, even mentoring.

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