In my last post, I talked about the importance of fixing your business before you grow it. But what if you don't know what needs to be fixed? That's what this post is all about. I've been helping my clients manage their companies since the '90's and I've come up with a simple way to objectively evaluate a small business.
Ask yourself, and any employees you have, these three questions:
- What frustrates you?
- What do you do that you shouldn't be doing?
- What do you avoid doing?
Take your time in answering. Think about it as you go about your day. When you feel frustrated, make a note of what is frustrating you. As you go from task to task, think about each job. Do you need to do it? Could you do it more efficiently? Could someone else do it better?
If there's a job you hate, try to figure out why. Do you feel it's a waste of your time? Does is interrupt your flow? Do you feel like you're not good at it? Be honest, and be thorough. Make a list of every issue you can think of.
Make a chart for each issue
Tackle each issue one at a time. Write each problem at the top of a piece of paper. Then write any possible solutions to that problem. Then, under the solutions, write any problems with that solution. Continue with problems and solutions for every item.
I know that I should not be going to the post office every day to mail my Rolodex cards and dividers to my customers. It's a waste of my time because the post office has a service where they will come to a business and pick up the packages. That is the obvious solution for me.
But my postal scale is old and unreliable. I'm afraid that if I put the wrong postage on my packages, my customers won't get them, or they'll be charged for extra postage. So I like to go to the post office to be sure that I have the right postage.
Obviously, a new digital scale would solve that. But my office is so small and cramped that I have nowhere to put it. Here's what this issue looks like on paper.
I typed it here, so it looks nice, but when I did the exercise I just scribbled it on a sideways piece of paper.
Another problem is that I spend so much time keeping up with my orders that I don't have time for the other things in my business. I'm still working on all the possible solutions for that issue, but here are a couple of ideas I jotted down.
Another problem I have is that product photography takes me way too long. My office in the basement has terrible lighting, so I need a lightbox. But I have no space for it, so I keep it under a table and have to set it up and take it down between each photo shoot. More wasted time.
Check out how many of my problems have to do with not having enough counter space. When I saw that, I realized that I had outgrown my current office, and that a bigger, more well-lit office would solve most of my problems. So that is what I am working on.
I hope this system helps you to identify some the the things that you need to work on. Best of luck in your continued growth.