Having listened to, talked to and worked with hundreds of small business owners, there is an underlying misunderstanding that seems to make it into every small business.
The simplest description of this is as follows: You find out that other businesses are doing something or using something, so you then take your focus off what you were doing, in order to run after this new thing. New Shiny Object Syndrome.
Where is your focus?
But, what we see runs much deeper than just that. Yes, there are new technologies and new apps and new platforms, tools, CRMs and on and on. There is a new Ad format on Facebook, so you must rush out to go and try that.
What is lost in all of this “New Stuff” is that at the end of the day, all you really need to focus on is selling stuff and serving your customers. There is nothing more to it. No need to complicate it any further. Everything else is wasted effort and distraction.
Before you come at me and tell me that there is so much more to business, there are 100s of things you need to get done this week or next week, just to keep the ship moving forward, I understand. However, I would still like to challenge you on this.
I can say with a very high degree of certainty, that you are doing a lot of things that you don’t need to do. Either because someone else can do them, or they simply don’t actually need doing at all.
I would challenge you to track for this coming week, EVERYTHING you do. Just keep notes on a pad for the week on everything you do. AT the end of the week, find some time to review the list, and ask of every task on the list to answer the following two questions:
How did that help the business to sell?
How did that help the business serve it’s customers?
Yes, this does apply to your business too.
Don’t cheat yourself over this. It will be easy to skim the list and then conclude that you need to do all those things again next week. However, if you take this seriously and really focus on these two questions, you will uncover unimaginable waste in your business. And this is even before you start looking at this process with every member of your team.
And before you tell me that your business is different, or too small or too big, I’ll tell you a story. (Dan Kennedy tells this story in his Mailbox Millions seminars.)
Lee Iacocca famously turned around the fortunes of Chrysler when they were a whisker away from going out of business.
One of the first things he did was to spend 3 weeks in his office with a whiteboard. He would call every single manager into his office one by one, and ask this simple question:
Draw a diagram on the board that shows me how what you do helped Chrysler to sell a car today.
If the manager couldn’t do it, or came up with some reason why he did not sell cars, they were fired.
Chrysler sells cars, and if you cannot show how what you do help to sell cars, then why are you here?
This seems really harsh, but when your business is struggling, or simply struggling to get to the next level, you may need to be this harsh.
Beware the Website Diva! (Or any specialist diva)
We had a perfect example of this recently.
We are working with a new client, who has an already successful eCommerce store. She recently moved from one platform to another, mainly because of the technical back-end functionality required as the business grows.
Now, any sane person will agree that the one and only function of an eCommerce website is to sell. Nothing else. It is not there to build your brand. It is not there to get people to download your latest brochure. Sell. That is its only function.
As part of the work we are doing, we needed to have the client’s Facebook Pixel added to the site. If you are not sure what that means, I encourage you to google it. If you don’t have one on your website, get to it! (But only once you know how it will help you to sell.)
So, we sent a request to the guys who built the platform and website. All we wanted them to do was copy and paste a few lines of code, which we provided, into the header of the site. This normally takes around 30 seconds, with slow internet.
Here is the response we received:
I see, unfortunately, this request would be bespoke to our existing implementation of the code – it doesn’t mean we can’t look at this however.
I will need to run this through our roadmap team to request we update our integration with GTM … it will need looking into properly and testing on our responsive wireframe. If approved, we would roll it out as a core feature upgrade, platform wide, of which the client could take advantage of at that stage.
This won’t be a quick request. If approved it would be added to the roadmap and done Free of charge, which is currently scheduling for Q2 next year.
The rabbit warren of your own self-importance.
These guys have lost all sense of what their business does. They develop and build eCommerce websites. They also claim to be digital marketing experts. How does it serve their customer to make them wait 6 months to have a bit of code added to an existing site?
They have also forgotten what their product does for their customers. Sell. Sell today, not Q2 of next year.
How is this happening in your business?
All the things you and your team do every day, how does it help you sell and serve? Or are you just so wrapped up in what you are doing, that you have lost sight of what you are really focussed on?
Track your activity this week, and then test everything against the two questions mentioned above.
We are have made some drastic changes to our business over the last 3 months, and continue to do so, in order to make sure we are not wasting energy on the wron things. I urge you to do the same.
Next week, I’ll come back and show you what to do with all the things on your list that does not help you to sell and serve.
Author: Pieter K de Villiers
Pieter K de Villiers is slightly obsessed with systems. The systems and process automation he builds for small businesses are transformative, to say the least. Pieter is a Co-Founder of Barefoot Digital and the Amazon best-selling author of “Barefoot Business: 3 key systems to attract more leads, win more sales and delight more customers without your business killing you”.