As I work with businesses, their management, their staff. and even individuals, I often see two classic problems to improvement:
When business is good, there does not seem to be TIME for improvement.
When business is not so good, there does not seem to be MONEY for improvement.
What do I mean by “improvement?” To me, “improvement” can be investing in training, investing in technology, developing better processes and the supporting documentation, increasing marketing efforts and a host of other efforts. Basically, improving the “things” that will help a business grow, survive, service, and thrive.
So when should you as an individual or as business leader work to improve?
In my years of working with clients, I’ve seen a clear pattern. THE most successful businesses and business people make improvement continually, not just periodically. Now that may or may not mean a huge project every day or even every month. But it means improvement is part of the ongoing business operation (or personal growth) regardless of the cycle of the economy.
To do this, you have to plan for improvement as part of your business planning and efforts. You have to budget for it with time and money. You have to execute your plan on a regular basis.
Naturally, there is some ebb-and-flow based on many external factors and we always want to stay customer focused. But I contend that being a better business is, in the long term, exceptionally customer focused.
Now I know there are those that are saying, “I don’t have time or money to work on improvements, I’m just trying to survive!” When I hear this, I usually think, “By not improving earlier, now you are in a bigger ‘hole’ of problems that is challenging your survival, and you may have waited too long,” or “If you survive, will you then work to improve to avoid this problem in the future? For most, promises made in storms are often forgotten in the calm seas.”
I also contend that if you do not include business improvement as part of your business philosophy, then you will eventually be left behind those that do.
We all know of success stories that burst on to the scene locally and nationally, only to crash and burn a few short years later. Many of these stories were centered on those that believed they had found a secret to success, so there was no need to improve. Eventually, the smart competitors adapted, improved, and survived.
So, what are you doing to improve? And is it random shots in the dark or part of an ongoing, strategic plan? Is improvement something you always will do “tomorrow?” What are your competitors doing?
Life and business both have enough barriers to success. So strive to limit the number of self-inflicted ones.