For Want of a Nail
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
This is a story that goes back centuries and implies that an entire kingdom was lost because someone was sloppy with stocking the materials needed to properly shoe just one horse.
What if the rider was carrying a message to the commanding general with information from a spy that had the entire battle plans of the enemy? And without that information the general was ambushed, lost the battle, which lead to him losing the war, which meant the king lost the kingdom.
Since few of us ride horses to work or into battle today, let's look at a 2016 version of this story:
For Want of a Sale
For want of a sale an email was sent.
For want of a headline the email was unopened.
For want of an opening the email was unread.
For want of a reading the offer was not conveyed.
For want of an offer the link was not clicked.
For want of a click the landing page was unvisited.
For want of a visit the sale was never made.
And all for the want of a sale via email.
Or how about this:
For Want of a Referral
For want of a referral a sale was made.
For want of a CRM the staff was not notified.
For want of a notification the order was not fulfilled.
For want of a fulfillment the order was not shipped.
For want of a shipment the order was not received.
For want of the product the customer asked for a refund.
And all for the want of a CRM.
Entrepreneurs are, by definition, dreamers, big-picture thinkers, visionaries.
We get irritable when forced to do anything tedious or repetitive such as data entry, social media image creation, create lengthy proposals, or sit through long meetings, conference calls, and webinars.
We get depressed looking at the minutiae of accounting, web hosting, personnel issues (i.e. business pigs), order fulfillment...and ordering every single nail for every single horseshoe for every single blacksmith for every single horse in the entire Army.
But those jobs have to get done.
And they have to get done profitably.
And if they're not done right the first time, they need to be fixed the first time and processes put in place so the same mistake doesn't happen again.
Which is why I tell my clients to look at what you do 2-3 times a day or 4-5 times per week and create a process for it and automate as much as you can.
Which is also why I tell my clients to forget about software for a moment and detach from the frantic, hectic day-to-day goings on at work and take note of your actual processes and procedures.
Look at every little thing you do to:
- Gather a lead
- Launch a webinar
- Bring a new product to market
- Write a blog post
- Promote your blog post
- Create a proposal
- Close a sale
- Fulfill an order
- Secure a referral
- Capture a testimonial and promote it
Then document each step. One client, Chad Kusner, wrote out over 30 steps on his white board. I use packing paper pulled off in six foot pieces and laid out on a conference table. You may prefer mind-maps.
The form of documentation does not matter. What matters is that you document what needs to get done. If you need a little help, check out this free video and PDF I call "Process Before Login."
Once you know what needs to get done you can isolate what is not getting done and/or what is not getting done efficiently and/or properly and correct it.
Let's say you have an assistant who replies to 30 customers per day to update them on the shipping status of their order and it takes him 5 minutes per customer to find and communicate that information each time.
That's 150 minutes or 2.5 hours per day not only doing menial labor, but your customers are growing increasingly dissatisfied because they are in the dark as to where their product is.
Now let's say you pay your assistant $20/hr. That's $50/day, $250/week, $13,000/year looking up shipping information. If you only pay $10/hr that's $6,500/year. If you have an overseas VA doing this for just $5/hr that's $3,250/yr.
Talk about "For want of a nail"!
And I GUARANTEE you have at least five similar wasteful processes going on in your business right now. What could you do with an extra $16,250 to $65,000 per year forever?
While the big things get noticed, the big things usually are created after overlooking several little things for too long. Case in point, termites cause more destruction each year than hurricanes, tornadoes, and windstorms combined in the U.S. each year but when is the last time you saw the news open with a lead story on termites?
A couple of thousand years ago a particularly wise man said
"The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones."
What small matters have you been ignoring? What small matter can you look into today, as in right now?
Maybe it's something small like getting some chalk.
Tomorrow we'll look at how you can get paid more, faster, and with less stress.
Want a little help with a tune up? Check out my Initial Process Assessment.
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.