Cutting through your business logjams

When you consider the delicate balance of people, operations, finances and goals in your business, things get complicated – fast.  Dealing with the forest and its trees would be like a walk in the park. It’s more likely you feel you’re dealing with a low resolution Google earth image of the Amazon rainforest on last year’s graphics card. The result? A logjam based on too many issues, not enough resources, and no plan.

Senior business leaders confronted with problems within their fields of personal experience have it easy. They’ve been there, tried that, and have the trophies and scars to prove it. It’s not rocket surgery for them to assess the challenge and figure out what may or may not work.

Funny thing is, good consultants can spot problems (and envision solutions) just as easily. The management consulting industry has a long-standing inside joke; great consultants almost always know what your problem is and how to fix it within the first 15 minutes of meeting you.


Simply put, they can see through the ‘noise’ you’re dealing with, whittle the problem down to its key issue and map a solution to success in their head – often before you have finished sharing all your information.

All of which begs the question: why do you and your business problems have to wait weeks or months for a binder filled with solutions?

[pullquote]Why do you and your business problems have to wait weeks or months for a binder filled with solutions?[/pullquote]

Look for the specialist

In my experience, during an introductory meeting with a business owner or leadership team, I’ve been able to come up with ideas about how to generate new revenue that have never before been considered in the entire company’s history.

It’s not because I am smarter than they are. It’s because I’ve spent my professional life focused on how to create new streams of revenue for existing and new products and technologies. I’ve seen so many ways other companies have been successful, and done it myself so many times, that I’ve become  attuned to all the scenarios.

It’s like the tired cliche. You go to your doctor, a general practitioner, when you aren’t feeling well. If your illness is serious, your GP  refers you to a specialist. The specialist has been trained specifically in your area of need and has spent his or her professional career being exposed to that problem over and over and over. Of course they will be your best resource for recovery.

[pullquote]If you want the quickest road to business recovery, think like a patient and look for a specialist. [/pullquote]

Why would it be any different in business?

Understand quickly. Execute diligently.

A perfect example is Sirona Biochem, a public company I ran as CEO. In Sirona’s previous 3+ years of business, they hadn’t succeeded in licensing a development-stage diabetes drug to a leading North American pharmaceutical company. The data for the drug was very promising, but the target market wasn’t willing to take the leap. The question was whether or not the rights to the drug could be sold at all.

I tried to understand why the target companies were not recognizing the potential of this great new drug. I then needed to figure out if and where any other appropriate companies might agree with the potential value of the drug and choose to license it themselves. Finally, I needed to understand how to present the opportunity to the new target companies in order to maximize the value of the sale.

All of this took about 20 minutes to figure out.

[pullquote]Quickly understanding the solution didn’t mean leaping to immediate action.[/pullquote]

It is critical to note that figuring out a potential solution did not mean immediate action. My assumptions needed to be validated – then the execution work began in earnest. I’m proud to say that 12 months later, the first cheque came in from the successful closure of the Sirona’s first ever transaction.

Steps to breaking up the logjam

When you have a logjam, consider the following:

  • How does your company make most of its money?
  • Who are your clients?
  • Could other clients see value in your products or services? Other industries?
  • How can you provide more value to your customers?
  • How can you elevate the performance of your sales team?
  • How much time does your company waste focusing on unimportant tasks and details?

Stepping away from your business and asking high level questions like these will open your mind to new opportunities that will never have been on your radar. You will be surprised how much you’ll learn about the potential of your business.

Marc Stoiber is The $2000 Coffee’s marketing expert. He's also founder and CEO of Your Ultimate Speech, author of Didn't See It Coming, marketing prof at Royal Roads, prolific public speaker on brands, and (in his spare time) a marketing consultant.