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Symptoms vs. Problems: What’s the Difference?

Author: Larry Chester, President

“We can’t print packing slips, but let’s not worry about that now, just get that skid into the truck!”

Business owners are constantly putting out fires. They know the underlying issues and understand that they haven’t resolved them for a variety of reasons. Does any of the following sound familiar?

  • “There’s no money to throw at the problem.”
  • “We don’t have the knowledgeable staff to resolve the issue.”
  • “It’ll take too much time to fix it. We need to keep the business moving.”
  • “OK, I really don’t know HOW to resolve it. Just keep working.”

So, here’s the question: Are you trying to solve a symptom or the root of the problem?

Symptoms vs. Problems

It’s easy to know whether you’re facing a symptom or a problem when it’s a personal matter.

For example, when your nose runs, it’s a symptom of your problem—a cold. When you open your fridge and there’s nothing inside, it’s a symptom of your problem—you haven’t gone shopping.

But when your business is facing issues, how do you know if you need a piece of tissue or an antibiotic? The question is this, does the issue keep repeating itself?

Let’s list a few business symptoms vs. problems.

Infographic Symptoms vs. Problems

A Final Word

When an issue keeps repeating itself, that’s a symptom. It keeps repeating because there’s a problem that needs to be resolved. If you decide to ignore the symptom, you ARE paying a price every time it occurs. The correct solution is to dive in and get the help you need to resolve the problem.

Your company will operate more smoothly, and you will save money each time the problem doesn’t repeat itself (not to say anything about your not having to deal with putting out that fire ever again!)

Infographic for "Symptoms vs. Problems: What's the Difference?"

Read on to find out if your business is in need of a CFO or controller.


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