My 9 year old son has taken an interest in Rubik’s Cubes lately.
The standard 3×3 cube and triangle puzzles we know. But also the more advanced 4×4 and 5×5 cubes of which I didn’t even know was a thing until he came home from school one day and asked me to get him one of each from Amazon.
As I fiddle with them in vain to try to solve it, I’ve been coming to the realization that you need to often think of just not the next move, but the move after that, the move after that, and the move after that. They all have a compounding effect as one move affects the move four moves ahead.
This got me thinking of one of the major misunderstandings I’ve come across this year with clients is a perception that the next immediate goal has to come through sales.
Just like a Rubik’s Cube, it’s not always about the next immediate goal, or move.
This, I find, actually hampers a lot of potential sales efforts in small businesses. If someone’s next goal is a 10% monthly increase in income—often, I find, that’s available in the current revenue of the business. There are probably waste opportunities all over the place:
- Hours and labor cost reductions/redundancies
- Cancel dues & subscriptions (is there a reason there’s a cable TV subscription in addition to internet at a butcher shop? Who’s watching TV?)
- Audit your internet, phone services, and other utilities. Mention a competitors and most companies will quickly find you a discount
- Negotiated blanked purchase order discounts
- Take advantage of discounts offered through your local chamber of commerce or association
- Stop discounting
- Reduce warranty work, replacements, or re-works
- Limit transportation. Fly coach. Stay in 3-star hotels. Conduct virtual meetings where possible
- Inventory management
- High priced office real-estate
- Restructure/consolidate debt. Negotiate lower rates with cred card companies and/or banks.
- Auditing your in-house services and see what can be outsourced (accounting, IT, bookkeeping, etc.)
- Outsource service to less expensive vendors (janitorial, landscape, IT, marketing, bookkeeping, legal, accounting, etc.)
- OR replace outsourced services with in-house services (janitorial, IT, marketing, etc.)
- Consider hiring a full time employee rather than 3 part time employees to create predictable employee coverage
And the added benefit of that is not only more cash—it means there’s more freedom for investing in the things that will create cash, even though they might take longer.
Digital ads take a while to optimize, for instance. So instead of feeling like an investment is a net cash drain for a period of time before they start working, there’s some extra cash in the business to cushion and fund the investment.
As I go further in business, I realize, we often think there are certain silos of information and things operate separately—the cable TV, for instance, is not related to the ad spend. But they are. They are related. Businesses do not have silos, not really. They have ways of organizing, which create silos, but those are constructs for understanding information—not a deep investigation into how the business works as a whole.
This, I find, is the major difficulty most people face in their businesses. In order to solve one problem, we often need to solve three problems. That’s good. That’s the way it should be. It works best for the business and for your clients. But it means a fundamental change in perception often. If we seek advice from a digital marketer, they will sell you digital ads. If you seek advice from a business expert with experience in marketing—we will see the business as one operation.