Even outside a business situation, when you’re looking for a solution to a problem you’re facing, it’s easy to run into a situation where you’re debating what would be best—a one-size-fits-all solution, or something that’s tailored exactly to the problem at hand. When phrased like this, it seems bizarre that you’d choose anything other than the latter, but it’s important to remember that with specific utility comes a lack of flexibility. General solutions are beneficial because they may be able to be applied again and again to a variety of situations, even if they don’t offer quite the same depth or level of quality that specific remedies can.
Specific to What?
Trying to decide if specific or general solutions are better is, in itself, a very general way of going about things. As always, the nature of the specific situation at hand is always going to determine what the outcome of this conundrum is going to be.
One of the first questions that you’re going to ask yourself in this regard is, what does this have to be specific to? If you’re in construction, for example, you might find that a certain material best suits some work that you have lined up, but if you find that this is the only instance of you needing this material, it might not be worth it. In this case, getting something that still applies but could also be used elsewhere might achieve a mildly less ideal result, but it could be much more economically viable due to the amount of use that you ultimately get out of the purchase.
On the other side of the coin, you have something like professional financial services. While these are something that any business might think of procuring, think of the various financial specificities of your industry. A broad stroke might not make sense here, as such a professional might lack the expertise or knowledge that will inform you of specific taxes or situations that you might encounter. To use the same example as before, construction accounting firms might be in a much better position to help people in that industry than a more general professional could be. Thinking carefully about the nature of your situation can help you to tailor your approach accordingly, and this means balancing the pros and cons of what each option entails.
Tried and True
There’s also a more abstract nature to this than you might initially think. When you use the term “general approach”, do you mean by general that it can be applied to many different situations, or do you mean that it’s general to businesses and has been used in the past, so might apply well to your situation too? If you’re encountering a situation that’s new to you, you might not know how to go about it. In this scenario, you might look to how businesses have gone about resolving situations like it in the past and use this to inform your situation. That doesn’t mean that you have to entirely ignore the nuances of what’s specific to you, but it can help to provide you with some confidence in dealing with it.
In this way, specific and general don’t always have to be entirely opposed, and instead, it might be more about recognizing when to apply a more specific hand amid a broad solution.
Resolving workplace disputes are a good example of this. If you’re hoping to come to an amiable solution, you might look to understand how these problems are often dealt with, leaning on what has worked in the past to inform your decision. However, that won’t entirely relate to what’s happening right now or the temperaments of those involved, and a distant, general approach might risk alienating people in an emotional moment. Instead, using this general approach as a framing device to deliver a more personal solution might help you to get the most out of both options.
Time and Efficiency
Looking back at the potential pros and cons of either approach, it’s worth remembering that you might not always have the time or resources to figure out the perfect solution to each and every problem; sometimes you’re just going to have to make do with what you have. If you need someone on your team to do some marketing for example, but you haven’t employed anyone specifically for that role, you might get someone whose primary job focuses on other means to simply add it to their tasks. As long as it’s not too much of a burden on top of the other things they have to do, this might be a positive solution—it’s even something that can be distributed among many people. Of course, this might not lead to your marketing being at the level that you’d prefer, but it also means that you’re not losing out on marketing altogether. Even if it’s just social media, you might find that a particular marketing method is more effective than you give it credit for.
An advantage that general solutions often have is that they are efficient: efficient of time and efficient of money. This might make them more appealing to you when you’re in the early stages of your business, when you potentially don’t have the resources to spare to handle each problem so attentively.
How Does This Help You?
With the ultimate answer to the initial question being “sometimes one is better than the other”, it doesn’t seem like you’ve walked away with any particularly helpful insights. However, it might be enough to get you thinking more inquisitively about any given problem that you encounter throughout your entrepreneurship. Stacking the nature of the scenario against your own circumstances and the resources that you have at your disposal can have you making the most informed decisions possible, and this is something that can hopefully help you to avoid making mistakes in smaller areas where such things could have been avoided, even though mistakes are natural and hoping to always avoid them might not be a realistic goal.