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Challenges are good for you and good for your business

Whether we call them problems, headaches, dilemmas, or issues, at the end of the day we still must deal with them. DAVID BROWN shares practical advice for overcoming unexpected issues in business.

Challenges come at us regularly in life whether we are a business owner or not. Sometimes they can be small and sometimes they can seem overwhelming.

In whatever from they arrive challenges seldom end without some effort on our part and it’s through that effort we gain the most benefit from these encounters.

Challenges in themselves don’t provide us with a benefit, it’s important to understand that it’s how we respond to them that will determine the positives that will come from the experience.

Firstly, let’s look at the types of challenges we can face. Macro-level challenges involve problems that occur on a large or significant scale.

From a business perspective an economic downturn, a pandemic or a change in government policy can impact your store. These challenges can be hard to control and are brought on by external forces.

Micro-level challenges occur on what we might consider to be a more ‘local’ level. A key staff member leaving or an issue with a customer’s order might be some obvious examples. Although often more immediately rectifiable they can also appear more overwhelming due to their closer personal nature. 

“History shows that our biggest challenges are the catalyst for change which can lead to improved efficiency and performance.”


While dealing with challenges is always frustrating, particularly for a ‘time poor’ small business owner, resolving issues can bring with them many benefits.

• Sink or swim: Challenges help get rid of weaker competition. An economic downturn can be tough on any business, however, it can close those who are struggling the most.

Some people choose to think of recessions as acting like economic ‘forest fires’ removing the deadwood and allowing more space for the healthy plants to grow.

• Rebirth: Creative destruction is a positive effect often found following the resolution of a challenge. In the world of business growth, development, and improvement are built on constant innovation.

History shows that our biggest challenges are the catalyst for change, which can lead to improved efficiency and performance.

• Self-assuredness: The experience of overcoming significant hurdles does a great deal for any small business owner’s confidence and competence.

As philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous work explains “that which doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger” - the things that we overcome will make us a better, more confident business owner and person.

• Highlights weakness: Facing adversity often demonstrates what doesn’t work or is failing.

Sometimes the issues in our processes or systems are quiet and unknown until a challenge arises and when that does occur, it’s important that we take the time to address it immediately.

As legendary inventor Thomas Edison illustrated with his many failed attempts at a light bulb, challenges can show you what not to do as well as what you should do.

• Develop determination: Overcoming challenges tests your resolve.

The obstacles you face, whether in business or life, can determine your desire and how badly you want whatever your goal is.

Are you willing to push through? Are you prepared to put in the effort?


There are a number of things you can do to make the situation better and increase your chances of achieving the best possible outcome when facing a challenge on either the macro or micro variety.

• Prepare for the worst: Many years ago, a friend’s father attended a course by US writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie.

His most key takeaway from the experience was that one should determine the worst that can happen and be willing to accept it, and from there be determined to improve.

• This too shall pass: How many of the challenges you faced a week ago, a month ago, or a year ago are a burden for you today?

Chances are the vast majority of them have come and gone after you took action to address them – it’s easy to catastrophise in the moment, however, it’s not helpful!

• Look for the positives: How will this improve you? How will this improve your business? What new skills will you learn from solving this?

You might have to have a difficult discussion with a staff member. As hard as it might be, know that you will become a better communicator once the issue is worked through.

Challenges are with us every day. You can see them as a burden or use them as a positive catalyst for personal growth and change and a means of improving your business.

David Brown

Contributor • Retail Edge Consultants

David Brown is co-founder and business mentor with Retail Edge Consultants. Learn more: retailedgeconsultants.com

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