No matter what industry you are in, the core values of business remain the same: use the most effective concepts to create the most efficient product possible. The less time you or your staff spends on a project, the more profitable it can be. Of course, rushing through a task for completion is never a good idea—we all know this. Maximize your time, and train your staff to do the same.
Taking a step
In my previous life, I was a small business owner in the event planning industry who often got caught doing $10 an hour labor, simply because I wasn’t taking the time to train my staff to do things the correct way. I would jump in and do it myself, just to keep things moving. As I have gotten older (and hopefully wiser), I can trace this back to reasoning including ADHD, impatience, and even my upbringing.
It was this mindset, however, that kept me from doing the $100 an hour labor I should have been spending my time on. A very valuable lesson: business is simply about people, training, finding the right ones to work with and not spending too much time tolerating those you can’t.
As business owner, you don’t necessarily have to be the smartest person in the room. Surrounding yourself with competent people who bring knowledge to the table is vital. It is easy to say, “what if I can’t afford the most qualified people?” Well, you simply can’t afford not to or you shouldn’t be in business.
For example, sales are where it all starts and ultimately all ends. It is hard to find good salespeople—those that are motivated and are team players—so when you find one or two, hold onto them. To grow a company, you must grow your people.
You as the business owner must always be looking for ways to reduce your overhead so you can maximize profit. Let’s say you are a $1 million company, just for round numbers. If you could find ways to cut 10% out of your operating budget that is $100,000. But—rather than putting that on your net line, reinvest it in a quality salesperson or two, depending upon your market.
Look at your fixed expenses and don’t think, “I can’t do anything about them because they are fixed.” Think outside the box. Look at how larger businesses in your area operate and where they get their supplies. Do you think FedEx gets better pricing on a fixed expense, like fuel, than you do? Of course, they do—they are buying hundreds of millions of gallons a year. Use an idea like this to create new partnerships and programs. It might not be gas, but what about paper products?
I am a big believer in workshops and industry conferences. The best ideas are usually somewhere in those session rooms. The conferences don’t necessarily have to be in your core industry, either. Some of the best information I have gotten out of a conference has come from areas other than my own business. Seek people out that have been successful in their own way and learn from them. It doesn’t have to always be your idea for it to be a good one. But—don’t just look at what your competitors are doing; look at what they are not doing, too.
So, next time—before you sign that check or place that order or look for that new rock star salesperson—stop and think for a moment. What other options are out there for me?