Book Review by Kristen Cudd
Business owners frequently find themselves weighed down by an ever-growing stack of problems that need to be fixed as soon as possible. This crushing responsibility can feel completely overwhelming, impacting every aspect of the business owner’s life and the organization itself. When faced with a city block of raging fires, the business owner sets to work, trying to extinguish the one whose flames reach the highest first, then moving on to increasingly smaller fires. This is a natural human response. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, after all. But what if this approach is all wrong?
In Fix This Next: Make the Vital Change That Will Level Up Your Business, author, business owner, speaker, and podcaster Mike Michalowicz asserts that this instinct is all wrong when it comes to business problem-solving. Urgently attacking every pressing problem using intuition as a guide can actually lead a business owner to hurt, not help, their business. In this latest book, Michalowicz teaches readers the key to prioritizing problems by identifying which problem should be fixed next.
A Framework to Discover What to Fix Next
Using trial and error, beta-testing groups, and loads of refinement, Michalowicz developed a tool called the “Fix This Next (FTN) analysis” that he has subsequently taught to hundreds of entrepreneurs in coaching sessions. When business owners find themselves in “fire-extinguisher mode” this tool “gives you the pause to pinpoint the core issue.” Instead of simply moving along tackling all the challenges you see without making any lasting progress, FTN serves as a compass and “points you to true north.” It “finds the critical issue you need to resolve—wait for it—next!”
Entrepreneurs have great instincts. It is one of the traits that makes them so good at recognizing opportunities in the marketplace. They are used to listening to their gut but this reliance on intuition backfires when it comes to problem-solving. Business owners end up focusing on the wrong target, which ultimately leads to slow or unhealthy business growth. Michalowicz says that “the biggest problem business owners have is that they don’t know what their biggest problem is.” Using the FTN analysis, a business owner can apply the right fix at the correct time to move the business forward with less frustration and greater benefit.
The Business Hierarchy of Needs
Most people have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a theory that has been presented in countless classes, talks, coaching sessions, and articles. In it, needs are organized into five categories, displayed in a pyramid. The needs at the bottom are Physiological and Safety. Humans cannot survive without food, air, and water and they fare much better when their basic needs of shelter and good health are met. As those lower, base-level needs are met, a person can attend to the higher levels: Belongingness, Esteem and Self-Actualization.
Michalowicz ties his theory to Maslow’s hierarchy, stating that businesses also have foundational needs that must be met before the business can rise to focus on other, nonessential advanced needs. He calls it the “Business Hierarchy of Needs (BHN).” Basic levels are Sales, Profit, and Order and the advanced levels are Impact and Legacy. The FTN analysis relies on the BHN to pinpoint which problem must be fixed next. A business owner must “always satisfy the most essential need (the one closest to the base), before addressing a need above it.”
Business owners are facing complex and unprecedented challenges. Many are finding it extremely difficult to meet the most basic need of transacting sales. Making a profit with a greatly reduced revenue stream seems all but impossible. The economy is in chaos and business owners cannot find order in the mayhem. There has never been a more relevant time for business owners to receive guidance on which problem to tackle next in order to move forward. Fix This Next gives entrepreneurs a clear path to make sense out of the madness. A generous selection of ready-to-use resources give readers ready access to implement effective changes, immediately.
Kristen Cudd is a Contributing Writer at Soundview. She spent seven years in publishing working with business book authors. She loves sharing her viewpoint as a contributing writer for various publications across multiple niches. Her other reviews can be found here.
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