Businesses are People, too
If you have to skills to take care of yourself, you can take care of your business
If you look at your business as though it were a person, and you can see some issues more clearly.
It might be hard to see the limitations of having a single vendor for your product. ”The vendor has a contract, and I have exclusivity,” you argue. They have a long standing history of stability and enough slack in their process that spikes in demand can be managed.
This is like not knowing how to cook and only ordering your meals from the place down the street.
What happens if that place raises prices? What if they switch from healthy ingredients to cheaper, less tasty ones? What if they have a fire and completely shut down?
Now what do you do? Do you just starve? No, you have a back up. Another restaurant, maybe some thing easy to cook at home, some sort of a back up.
What about redundancy in your business? You’d be hard pressed to find a sane business owner who says, “We don’t need any backup systems. Our systems never go down.” Every business-critical system should have at least one redundancy. Some people go a little further and have a backup to that backup. And why not? What’s the worst that could happen?
It’s like having an alarm clock in addition to your cell phone to wake you up in the morning. If you only use your cell phone, there’s a chance a power outage will keep it from getting charged while you sleep. So, just in case, you get an alarm clock that plugs in and has a battery backup.
There is always a cost to redundancy.
You have just increased the amount of work in your life. You have to make sure to silence both your cell phone and your alarm clock when you wake up. You also have to make sure the battery in the alarm clock is tested and changed periodically.
Maybe that’s a tradeoff you’re willing to make for yourself, but what about your IT department? Are you willing to have a backup system that hasn’t been tested recently? Are you willing to put off mission critical activities to check the backup to the backup system?
There are two crucial things that a functional adult and a functional business need to have.
- An understanding of cause and effect.
- A planning process with feedback loops.
Without an understanding of inputs and their effects, outputs will seem random. Did I have a good night’s sleep because I meditated or because I went to bed early? Did the number of customer complaints drop because we’re doing a better job or because we stopped tracking them the same way? In either case, you would want to test your assumptions and see if you can replicate the results.
Having a plan is better than winging it. Sticking to a plan without any deviation is insane. Let’s say you want to drive across the United States from New York to Los Angeles. So, you hop in the car and trust that your cell phone’s directions will get you there. And then, as you drive through the Appalachian Mountains, you lose signal. Do you freeze in position? Do you try to backtrack? Do you pull into a gas station and buy a physical map?
Now, let’s say your company wants to promote a product. You decide to work with a marketing firm that specializes in social media. Just as you start to notice the increase in sales, they get involved in a scandal involving influencers and payoffs. Do you distance yourself from them? Do you cancel the contract and find another firm? Do you abandon the initiative?
It’s easy to think you can’t be any good at business because you don’t have an MBA. It’s easy to think you can’t grasp accounting or human resources or operations because you never studied them.
But that’s wrong.
If you can take care of yourself, you can take care of your business.
I find ways to help people perform to the best of their abilities, make processes as efficient as possible, ensure technology is being used to accelerate not complicate. In the end, there will always be work. But if we do it together, maybe it won't feel like work.