Hey guys. This is James P. Friel of Contract CEO.


Today, I wanted to give you a simple 4-step tool that will allow you to demolish any obstacle that’s standing in your way if you are an entrepreneur trying to grow your business. A lot of people that I’m talking with sometimes just get stuck. Or maybe, they’re not stuck – they just lose their clarity and are not 100% sure what they should be doing or when they should be doing it. And the first thing you need to know if you’re in that camp or you’ve ever been in that camp is that’s okay! Part of the process of growing your business is trying to figure these things out. You don’t have to stay in that place of chaos, or lack of clarity, or feeling of being stuck for very long if you use this 4-step process that I’m going to share with you right now.

It’s an acronym to make it really easy to remember. And the acronym is OPOS. Another way of thinking is O-positives – or moving in a positive direction. If you are trying to figure something out, I’d ask – What’s really important to you? Some people want to grow their business. Some people want to have more free time. Some people want to have systems in place. Some people want to have cash flow, long-term value, exit their business. So, there’s all these different things that you really might want. So, the very first thing in any problem-solving activity that you need to be doing is saying, “Okay. What is my outcome?” And then you might even take it a step further and say, “On a scale of 1 to 10, what does a 10 outcome look like? In worst case scenario, what does a 1 outcome look like?” That way you know what you’re really going for. It’s very, very difficult to hit a goal or a target if you haven’t clearly defined it. Part of the OPOS process is helping you get clarity through defining your target more effectively.

So, the first thing is what is my outcome? Now, just like a lot of other entrepreneurs you might say, “Oh, I wanna make more money.” Okay. Great! Well, let’s start quantifying that. How much is that? How much more money do you wanna make? I was talking with a client last week and he said, “Okay. You know, I wanna make this amount of money in my business.” He wanted to add another million dollars to his business in the next year. And I said, “Okay. Cool.” That is a good outcome, right, because we know the number. We know how long we’re expecting it to take and when we want it. That doesn’t mean we always hit it exactly on, but you need to have an outcome and it needs to be really, really clear. Because as human beings, we are the Greek philosophers called teleological beings, which means that if you give us a target we are designed to go in the direction of that target. So, let’s say your outcome is “I want to get 50 new clients in the next 6 months.” The next thing we have to do is say, “All right. Great. That’s awesome that you want those 50 new clients the next 6 months, but there’s something standing in our way of making that happen and that is a problem.” Right? This is where a lot of people tend to get stuck because they don’t know exactly where they’re going. And what makes it worse is they’re not exactly sure what’s getting in their way. So it’s difficult to make any movement. If we clearly say this is where we want to go, then I would ask you – “What is the big problem that’s getting in your way?” There’s probably a lot of little problems contributing to this, but it’s the big problem we are concerned with. Maybe you have a marketing problem – maybe you don’t have enough leads. Maybe you’re getting plenty of leads, but you’re not able to convert those leads to sales, so that’s a completely different problem. Or maybe you don’t have a problem getting leads. You don’t really have a problem closing them, but you have a really big problem fulfilling it. You have a delivery problem, or a backend problem. So, it’s important to say, “Well, what’s the big area that’s getting in the way?” Right? There’s not that many of them. There’s marketing. There’s sales. There’s delivery. There’s financial and maybe internal and operational type of stuff. So, what’s the big problem? Now, once we’ve identified what we want and the big problem that’s standing in our way, we can actually do some more proactive problem solving.
When I was studying to be an engineer, one of the things that we had to learn was how to take big complicated problems and break them down into smaller problems. And that’s part of what we need to do next in step 3. Okay, we know the outcome. We know the big problems standing in the way. So, what we need to do is to identify what the smaller problems are. And I call these obstacles. That doesn’t sound quite as big and it’s because it’s not. So, if my problem is we’re not getting enough leads, then we’ll say, “All right. Where are the obstacles? Are we running ads? Are our ads being seen by people? Are they not being seen by people? Are people clicking on the ad, but not telling us who they are?” There’s all these little things that go into diagnosing this so that we can say, “All right. What are the things that I can actually control here?” If something hasn’t happened yet, it simply means that whatever needed to happen first hasn’t happened. Right? So, if I’m not getting enough leads, that means that my messages aren’t resonating clearly enough or I’m not getting my message in front of the right audiences. Maybe we don’t have enough ads going. Maybe our message is a little off. And so, we really need to dig in and evaluate this systematically.


If you’re like me and you really enjoy data and looking at data and numbers, it definitely makes this piece a lot easier. So, step 4, once we’ve identified the obstacles (these are the bite-sized chunks of this problem) then we want to say, “Okay, we want to take specific action.” I use the phrase specific action very deliberately. It means what are we going to do to rid ourselves of this obstacle – we are going to overcome this obstacle and hit these off one at a time in bite-sized chunks. But plan it out ahead of time – Okay, so we have obstacle 1 and we need to do this, this, and this to complete that and then we have obstacle 2 and we need to do this, this, and this to complete that.
That’s how this exercise really works so that you start getting very, very clear on what you want. What’s the big area that’s getting in the way so we can identify the direction that we’re trying to focus our effort and what are the obstacles, what are the smaller components of solving this problem? What are the smaller problems that we’re actually looking at? And then finally, once we identify those obstacles, we just say “What are the specific actions that we need to take?” And at this point, you should be feeling really clear. Nothing should be feeling scary. I’ve helped tons of people get just insanely clear. I had people literally hug me after going through this. And I hope that you don’t stalk me down to try and hug me, but I do hope that this is incredibly valuable and useful for you in getting unstuck, getting more clarity, and doing whatever it takes so that you have the focus that you need to just do the simple things necessary to take your business to the next level. If you guys have any questions about this, feel free to reach out to me. If you like some help going through this, I’d be happy to schedule a session with you where we could do that. And I hope this is valuable and I’ll catch you later. Thanks.