“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers
As a business owner do you believe that you are ever done improving your business? Do you think that your business is as good as it’s ever going to be? The answer is and should be absolutely not! I don’t believe any of us think that our companies are as good as they are going to get. I hope we’re all smart enough to know that. The issue is twofold – finding the issues that are adversely affecting our businesses and fixing them. Both present their own challenges, but fixing is harder than finding.
Why are companies willing to seek help in identifying potential problems within a company, but not so quick to do something about fixing them? Here are six reasons why business owners have a tendency to balk at doing something about fixing problems that they fully recognize exist:
Time Consuming – Depending on the problem or problems and the intensity and impact on the day-to-day operations, the problem fix can be very long and tedious. For example, replacing a desktop computer is easy. Replacing an entire department’s computers and the server that supports them, uploading new software or new operating systems, and then training the staff on how to use them is something else entirely. So in a situation like this, the business owner may not feel that he/she can afford the time that it would take to upgrade and update the systems. Of course that attitude changes pretty quickly when systems start to crash, data is lost, and customers start to complain. Then, the time to replace does not seem like such a big deal.
I Can Do It Myself – Many business owners will seek outside help in identifying problems and in soliciting solutions, but when it comes to implementing the suggestions, they fail to move forward. In many cases they do so because they feel that although they agree with the outside assessment and solutions, they can implement those solutions themselves without any further assistance. Unfortunately, they seldom do. They fail to realize that they either don’t have the time, the experience, or the expertise to implement the solution. If they did, the problem would have already been resolved.
Costly – Many business owners get to the point of wanting to know the problems and how they can resolve the problems right up to the point where they see the associated price tag to fix the problems. Then all of a sudden the problems are not that big and the timeline is not that important. The problem with that kind of thinking is that if you ignore the problems, they don’t go away and the longer you wait to fix the problems, the more costly it is going to be. So the question is not how much will it cost to fix the problems, but rather how much is it going to cost to not fix the problems?
Disruption – Depending on the type of problem, there can be a disruption to the daily operations and workflow and many business owners do not want that kind of disruption. There is the cost to fix the problem and the potential cost of not being able to fulfill orders or service because something is being fixed. You do the best you can to mitigate the disruption if you can’t avoid it all together, but not doing anything will eventually cause more disruption and may affect more areas of your business as problems very often have a domino effect.
Benefit Blindness – There are times when the business owner is presented with a problem and a potential solution only to reject it because they can’t see the benefit of fixing the problem. For example, a company had a very manually-intensive process that took two employees to perform. The process had been in place for years and the two employees who had been with the company for as long as the process knew it better than anyone in the company. The business owner was told that this was a serious problem that should be fixed. The owner stated that the process had worked for years and saw no reason to adjust it now as it was working fine. The owner failed to see the potential benefit of automating the process and the fact that the current process was the two employees performing the work. If they were ever to leave the company, they would take the process with them. This is a perfect example of being too close to the problem to see the potential solution.
Ego – This is potentially the worst of the six reasons. A business owner with a big ego will refuse to work on a problem because he/she can’t see it. If they don’t see it, then there is no need to fix it. Ego can also get in the way when the owner does see the problem but insists on fixing it without seeking professional help. That’s like believing you can perform open-heart surgery because you saw it done on TV. Egotistical business owners truly believe that there is nothing else to learn. They know all they need to know. They have a successful business that they built on their own and no one knows more than they do about any specific aspect of it. If the problem gets worse, they will find someone else to blame for it.
So there are a number of reasons why business owners don’t fix problems within their businesses as shown above. Some of the reasons are very legitimate concerns but I will state one thing and that is, the problems will not go away on their own. They will continue to grow, they will get worse, and they will affect other parts of your business. So having said that, I would offer one piece of advice and that is to do something. Identify the problem, find solutions for the problem, and establish a plan for tackling the problem. If you are currently in pain, then address the pain points immediately. If you anticipate pain coming, establish a plan for eliminating the problems before they become painful. If you want to avoid the pain altogether, establish a plan to eliminate the anticipated pain points in order of importance.
It doesn’t have to all be done at once. You can start small. You can start with the low-hanging fruit. You can start by utilizing the 80/20 rule. The solution is to start. You can’t reach the finish line if you do nothing, so at least do something!
About the Author — Ron Feher is the Chief Improvement Officer at WhiteRock Business Solutions. Ron’s business helps turn small business strategy into reality. He is an executive advisor with The BoardRoom (executive think tank), strategic partner with Prana Business (Line-of-Sight™) and specializes in improving all aspects of business operations including executive coaching, employee assessments, business planning, and day-to-day operations improvement. He is a certified professional analyst with TTI Success Insights® utilizing their behavioral, motivational, competency, and emotional intelligence assessments to help businesses hire, retain, and improve their teams. Ron does Career Coaching as an outreach (#givingback) to the community. WhiteRock is located in Orange County, California and can be found at www.whiterockbusiness.net; or contact Ron directly at firstname.lastname@example.org (949-466-0943). #dosomething @RonFeher