When Good Enough isn't Good Enough

When Good Enough isn't Good Enough

Operations | Posted by YouInc.com - October 8, 2013 at 9:30 am
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How to spot when good enough just isn’t good enough anymore

Part of the fun of running your own business is tinkering with it.

Once you’ve got the basics right and customers are buying what you’re selling, your focus likely shifts to bettering your operations.  A tweak here, a small fix there, and bit by bit, your business will steadily improve.

It’s what makes business ownership so deeply satisfying: making minor adjustments and watching the results.

There’s always room for improvement. But the trick is knowing when and where.

For example, your current monthly newsletter may work just fine. It engages the right customer audience and brings them to your website. One day, a reader suggests adding social media buttons to the newsletter and you decide to do it. People can now spread your material on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Viewership doubles the next month as more fans share your insightful articles and useful tips.

Adding those share buttons is a small, incremental change to your existing way of doing things. And it improved your results. You understood when good enough was no longer good enough for your business.

  • The Japanese word ‘Kaizen’ refers to continuous improvement. It’s a popular philosophy about ‘changing for the better’ and can apply to all processes in a business.

It isn’t always easy to spot opportunities for improvement. Sometimes we are simply too close to our business to see what’s really happening within a process or system. But we can watch for any of these three signs that may indicate it’s time to do some tinkering.

  1. You discover a better way. What you’re doing now works, but you’ve noticed others in your industry are doing things differently. It’s time to check it out. For example, many small businesses have switched to cloud-based accounting for improved accessibility to their financial information.

  2. A customer suggests change. A customer comment or complaint could be a sign that something’s not working as well as it could be in your business. Take the time to listen to that customer – there could be other unhappy customers who are not speaking up. What can you do to address their concern? Pay attention to employee comments, too.

  3. The status quo is frustrating. You begin to question the way you are doing something. You ask questions such as, “Why can’t we ship orders the next day?” or “How can our employees collaborate remotely?” It’s a trigger to research change.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take a big change to see a small improvement in your business. For example, a minor investment in employee productivity tools could improve customer responsiveness, lower costs, speed delivery and boost profits.

Sometimes, resistance to change is the only barrier preventing an entrepreneur from exploring improvement options – in other words, accepting that ‘good enough’ is just that. It creates an opportunity cost because the business may be missing out on something great.

Thankfully, you know your business deserves better.

Tags: barriers, customers, kaizen, operations, opportunities, responsive, results, social media, status quo, tweaking, traits

Roger Pierce
With Roger’s experience in starting and running 12 small businesses, it’s no wonder that he is Scotiabank’s small business expert. Roger takes what he has learned and shares it with thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide in articles, blogs, videos, and presentations. He’s also co-author of the book, Thriving Solo: How to Grow a Successful Business.
Comments
Sina Fakhrabady
October 9, 2013 at 5:45 pm
Great article. As an entrepreneur, there are some days where you're just kicking yourself because you KNOW you can do better... but the light bulb just hasn't gone off, yet. However, just the fact that you know it's there (and that you CAN do better) is a good start. If you're not looking for opportunities, you'll never find them!!
It's also true that small changes can make a world of difference in a business. But if you're not organized, those small things can turn into mountains of work, wasted time, and money. Personally, I love using Gantt charts (since I'm a visual person) to organize work. It gives me some sense of what needs to get done and when. That way, even the small stuff doesn't get forgotten.

Sina, Addibuy
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