It takes courage and endurance to build your own business: courage to sidestep the security of a regular job and the endurance to stay focused on its various operations. Running a business is not for everyone because it can be so uncertain and demanding. You need to be motivated, adaptable, confident, and resilient.
After you’ve developed an idea, tested its plausibility, written a business plan, and identified a market, you’ll need to figure out your costs, establish a budget, and work with the most suitable investors. Once that’s in place, you’ll need to decide on the legal structure, pick and register a business name, find out about your tax obligations, secure permits and licenses, buy insurance, set up the books, and choose a business location. Only once all that is done will you’ be ready to open your doors.
Unfortunately, that’s just the start. There’s more to the story. It’s rare for everything to go smoothly once you’ve finally got your business up and running. You’ll experience a bewildering range of problems that will test your mettle. These problems fall into two main classes: things you didn’t know you didn’t know until you started the business and unusual issues that would baffle anyone.
Closing Knowledge Gaps
The first class of business problems is due to a knowledge gap in your business. This is fairly easy to resolve. It can be remedied by taking business courses, researching what you need to know, and working with mentors.
Handling Unique Business Problems
Unfortunately, not knowing enough isn’t the only obstacle you’ll come up across. The second class of business problems is coping with novel business problems. To meet this challenge, you’ll need to get good at problem-solving. One way to do this is through a methodology called six sigma. What is six sigma? Here is a brief explanation of how it works and how it can help you resolve bewildering business problems:
1. A quick definition
The term six sigma is an interesting one. It’s essentially a technical term used in quality management. A high quality process only has 3.4 defects out of a million opportunities. In other words, the shift in the mean is a mere 1.5 sigma.
Six sigma, in essence, is a set of management techniques to improve a defective business process. It will either reduce or eliminate the problem. It will also take steps to prevent the defect or error occurring again. Any business process consists of two basics, an input, the x variable, and an output, the y variable. By controlling the input, you will be able to control the output. This can be expressed in the functional equation y=f(x).
2. How it works
Although there are no shortage of problem-solving courses for businesses, ranging from lateral thinking to critical thinking, what sets six sigma apart is that it takes an evidence-based approach. It deploys a specific conceptual tool to define a problem, quantify it, and analyze the cause. Once the problem has been clearly delineated, it sets about implementing a solution and then verifying that the solution works. Still, it doesn’t stop after the problem has been solved. There is another, final step: making sure that the problem will not recur by controlling it and maintaining a solution.
This methodology, called DMAIC– define, measure, analyze, improve and control—is the most widely adopted one, but it isn’t the only one in use. It’s just the most popular one because of its efficacy in getting to the root of a problem and resolving it with a sustainable solution.
3. Other conceptual tools
In order to improve a process, you need to work with qualitative and quantitative techniques. You can’t improve a process by just trying to control one or the other. For this reason, six sigma uses a variety of tools, like process mapping, failure mode and effects analysis, control charts, and statistical process control (SPC).
Business is Complex
In a society riding the wave of sophisticated technological advancement, you need more than an entrepreneurial spirit to be highly successful in your own business. While there is much to be said for having an aspirational personality, business model, equipment, computer system and mobile devices, you must also be able to do two things well after you’ve set up your business. First, you must be able to quickly close any information gaps that are damaging your results; and second, you must develop the technical skills to solve unexpected problems that arise, problems for which there is no obvious solution.