Owning a business is tough. Almost everyone who has been in the role of the owner or entrepreneur will tell you that it is way more complicated than it might seem at first blush. A lot of the complexity comes from having to deal with problems that the owner didn’t see coming or couldn’t have anticipated. But come they will.
Often, as businesses grow, the problems change from one form to another. In the startup phase, it’s not uncommon for the founder to be struggling with finding product-market fit. The brilliant idea that someone had envisioned that led to the start of the company has been translated into something that isn’t selling for whatever reason. This means more time listening to clients, learning about potential market verticals and a host of other issues. All of your work then becomes about modifying what you are doing in order to actually provide a product or service that someone is willing to buy.
Once (or if) you identify a product-market fit, problems of scaling come into play. If scaling is achieved, increased competition, funding issues, market changes and a host of other problems are going to present themselves. In short, in business, and in life, there’s always going to be something that potentially causes chaos.
None of this means that you have to accept the chaos or that chaos has to be the standard. To the contrary, when these roadblocks or challenges appear, it’s how you deal with the challenge that determines your chances of success.
We often hear people telling us that the software or technology solutions they have in place either “aren’t doing what we need” or “aren’t the product we were expecting”.
Clients like that have several choices, but a lot of them are bad. The easiest thing to do is simply complain about technology and continue spending hours with workarounds or just ignoring the problem altogether. You hear people saying, “We tried that, and it didn’t work.” Another common statement is “Yeah, we spent that money, but the program wasn’t working right, so we went back to just doing it on paper.”
These situations are especially frustrating to me because the person is really saying “We realized we have a real need and that we have to find a better way, but we tried something and it didn’t work right away, so we quit and went back to the process that wasn’t working right in the first place.”
Does that make any sense? Yet, the reality is that people tend to be more comfortable with the status quo than finding an easier solution – especially if the solution seems a bit more difficult to put into place than they had initially thought. Retreating to the comfort of the everyday, no matter how bad that is, often is seen as the obvious choice.
And while we probably aren’t supposed to have favorites, these are my favorite clients. They don’t necessarily always have most complex coding or software issues, but they often have had bad experiences that make them reluctant to find the right solution. Either they didn’t do it right themselves, or they were burned by false promises from another firm. Occasionally, they were close to the solution themselves, but just gave up a bit early.
In any event, my favorite customers are the ones that have been stuck in the “chaos”. They’ve experienced frustration caused by others, by themselves or by changes in the market. They’ve either given up or are about to. Helping people through the chaos has always been my biggest reward.
Wayne Hippo is an owner and Managing Partner of PS Solutions, a custom software development and consulting firm with offices in Altoona, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, and Wilmington, NC.
You can reach Wayne at firstname.lastname@example.org
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