Welcome back to #4 in our Straight Talkin’ Business section – today we’re going to do a personal favourite of mine…
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it
How many times have you heard that phrase before?
Well, here’s another question – how many times have you really thought long and hard about it? I mean really stopped and carefully contemplated it?
See, like so many of these phrases we tend to use them as conversational shortcuts. Once a clever phrase catches on it doesn’t take long for it to be overused to such an extent that we tend to filter it out subconsciously.
In fact I’m sure that, before deciding to embark upon your own home based business, you had at least one boss who loved to copy and paste that phrase, and others like it, into as many sentences as possible.
That’s why we become immune to them, and forget the simple, yet profound wisdom that they contain, and how they can be of benefit not just to our business endeavours but to our lives in general.
The importance of systems
As we mentioned in our previous post in this series, if you want to really make your business get ahead you need to refine your daily operations into procedures and systems. Not only does it make everything more efficient, it allows your business to expand your business swiftly. Once you’re up and running all you need do is provide those same systems to your staff, virtual or otherwise, therefore affording you much more leverage and earning potential and allowing you to grow your business exponentially.
This is not only good for you, the entrepreneur, it’s also good news for your workers because it means they have a clear work-flow which allows them to get on with their jobs without needing to ask so many questions. It’s also great for your clients because they’re assured that the products/services you provide are always delivered on time, on budget and of the same high standard of quality. Having systems in place help give the various operations of your business a sense of uniformity, reliability and consistency.
All systems eventually fail
No doubt prior to reading this article you’ve researched some of the topics we cover and come across a million and one internet marketers who’ve told you they have a foolproof system for making insane amounts of money online or generating enormous amounts of web traffic. True some of them might have come up with a very clever system, but is it 100% foolproof? No, because no system is, and furthermore, the system that works today isn’t guaranteed to work tomorrow.
Remember that last computer you got? Remember how quickly it booted up and how fast it seemed compared to your last computer? But then a year or two down the line it was taking five minutes to boot and when you launched certain applications it would just crawl? Well, that doesn’t just happen with operating systems, that happens with all systems.
Times change, tastes change, economic conditions change – what works today won’t work tomorrow. That’s how Japan came to become the top manufacturer of cars and consumer electronics, and it’s also why they’re now loosing ground to the Koreans.
The problem is that people sometimes get stubborn about systems, they don’t like to believe that what worked so well for them in the past is no longer working. There’s actually a lot of ego involved – and fear too, let’s not forget that either, fear of uncertainty, fear of failure, so they cling to the old systems like a life-ring.
In fact I doubt there’s a single company out there that hasn’t gone through some level of senior/junior power struggle where the young upstarts butt heads with the old guard because they dared to try suggest that they ought to alter, update or – heaven forbid – discontinue a certain system or product which had worked for so well in the past. That’s why you see so many companies – even some large global multinationals – see their sales suffer dramatically because some upper-echelon stick-in-the-mud insists on maintaining the status quo.
And I’ll bet you’ve experienced it first hand in at least one, if not more, of the companies you’ve worked for.
Always remember that however grating changes might be internally, the real issue will always be how your customers feel.
How do you find this out? Well, you can ask them. You can use surveys or even impromptu focus groups, and don’t forget to ask those loyal, long-term customers for feedback, chances are they might have a few ideas for improvement that you might have never though of – positive improvements that will elevate your user experience so as to get higher sales and customer satisfaction.
Resolve or Evolve?
Walking the line between convention and innovation can be quite tricky at times.
Too conservative and creativity and ingenuity become stifled, too liberal and change happens for the sake of change, without any valuable innovation.
Change can be a scary thing for many people, especially when one suggests changing something which has worked so well in the past. Without that will and courage to try new things you end up with a “Lost Decade” type scenario. Too much pandering to the other side, however, and you could well end up with your company’s own answer to New Coke.
Sometimes innovation is the only way out of stagnation – but before you take the leap you need to carefully ask yourself the following:
- Am I reluctant to change because I’m emotionally attached to this old system?
- Do the overall trends suggest the need for small changes to existing procedures/products or is a more radical approach needed?
- Have I exhausted all other possibilities?
- Have I done sufficient split-testing and market research to better inform my decision?
- Do my customers actually want these changes?
These are the key questions that you need to ask yourself, and we’ll be looking at these in more detail in the next post…