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How to overcome business frustrations

We define business frustrations as a series of specific recurring events in your business over which you feel you have little or no control.

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Every business has frustrations. From small "hiccups" that hinder the flow of work, to fatal flaws that can have a devastating impact on the bottom line, and everything in between.

As it is with every challenge you face, the question is really about how you deal with it. You can ignore the frustration all together; you can abdicate and hope that somebody else will take care of it, or you can apply a quick band-aid fix—but all of those options would be doing yourself, your team and your business a great disservice.

I'd like to share this story about Michelle who owns a printing and design business. Michelle was having trouble finding the time to develop systems and processes because of constant interruptions from clients. She was getting so many project status requests that she couldn’t focus on the strategic work she wanted to do. Michelle told me that she was feeling frustrated by the fact that her customers weren’t relying on her support staff. She hadn’t taken any proactive steps toward fixing this situation because she was afraid that her clients had gotten used to working with her and she didn't want to jeopardize the level of service they'd come to expect.

Three types of business frustrations

There are three ways people typically perceive business frustrations like the one Michelle was experiencing.

  1. Self-directed: I am the cause. “I make my clients rely on me too much.”
  2. Outer-directed: Someone or something else is the cause. “My customers aren’t utilizing my support staff.”
  3. System-directed: The lack of an effective system is the cause. "There's no system in place for proper project communication."

For Michelle, her first inclination was Outer-directed. And that's typical, we all have a tendency to blame other people. But if you ask the right questions you can move through the blame game and focus instead on the system solution.

Questions to ask yourself about business frustrations

Finding the solution to frustration begins by asking the right questions. The questions that will enable you to discover what the true, underlying business conditions are.

  • First explore the big picture. What's the real impact this frustration has on you, your employees, your customers and your business?
  • Then quantify anything and everything that might be a result of this situation. Whether it's lost time, productivity, or lost revenue—every frustration is ultimately costing you money.
  • Finally, keeping the first two steps in mind, observe the frustration objectively. Avoid blaming people, instead focus on the systems. Walk step-by-step through the sequence of events until you're able to dissect what’s really going on. You'll probably identify areas that can be improved with system implementation right away.

For Michelle, it boiled down to the fact that her clients went to her for answers because they were never told to do otherwise and her support staff did not have the systems in place to regularly contact clients. In short, there was no customer communication system in place.

With a System-directed frustration identified, you have the clues you need to begin understanding the underlying business condition that is the cause of your frustration.This will eventually lead you to the solution—a system solution. What Michelle needed to do was work with her support staff to create the appropriate communication system for clients.

Now her clients receive introduction emails from their assigned Customer Service Representative at the beginning of each project along with regular status updates until the project is completed. They improved their email signatures and website contact information so that clients can be clear about who to contact for what.

The result? Michelle estimated that establishing this client communication process freed two hours of her time each day. Imagine that! Two hours she can now put to very good use working on her business. Her support staff now has clearly defined steps to take to ensure clients have an exceptional experience on each project. The positive results from this system implementation just keep coming. And it was all born from a frustration Michelle couldn’t see a solution to before!

This process—the Key Frustrations Process—is a client favorite and is really about the essential skill of systemic thinking. It helps you look at problems and frustrations strategically to pinpoint gaps in your systems and processes that a new system or set of systems can solve. When you engage in this process with your team (you should include them!) you end up creating a powerful culture of strategic thinkers looking for ways to solve problems and improve business operations instead of an endless cycle of blame and discouragement.

Want to learn more about how to transform your frustrations into solutions? Download our free guide below.

systems development guide

EMyth Team

Written by EMyth Team

We share free resources and stories from our clients, Coaches and team members about how to build a business that serves your life. Our posts will give you updates on our business insights and free educational content.