When my computer gets sluggish, I defrag the hard drive to make it more efficient. Defragging is a process that cleans up your hard drive. It does this by tidying up stray bits of information to leave more free space, which enables the computer to operate more efficiently. Businesses need to be defragged on a regular basis too.
Tough economic times demand the very best from business owners. For the most part, it’s easier for businesses to thrive in a robust economy. But when a downturn hits, the claws come out. Continuous innovation and persistent defragging are the secret to not having your business bounced out of the gene pool. On a larger scale it seems like the economy gets bloated from time to time and does its own defrag. In a very Darwinian way, many small businesses get cuffed into place or trounced out of existence along the way.
As owners, we’re defragging different parts of our business at any given time. You know those processes in your business that just break down, fall apart or become redundant over time? They get slower and slower, more noticeable, then downright annoying; that’s usually when we’re motivated to defrag.
For a small business there are always things begging to work more efficiently. Here are a number of areas of you might consider for potential defragging:
- Business Concept – your vision, corporate mission, which products and services to offer, and short-term business goals
- Marketing – market area, customers, competition, how you sell your products and services, advertising and promotion, and pricing
- Operations – computer hardware and software, how you manage your people, policies on safety, banking procedures, invoicing, trade accounts, your telephone service, insurance, and staff training
- Financial – sales forecast, costing, operating expenses, asset management, how you collect your receivables, and how you manage your payables
If the items listed above look suspiciously like the parts of a business plan… they are. Improvements to any of the above areas can make the difference between smooth sailing or crashing in a ball of flames.
In times of plenty, we tend to over indulge and get bloated. This is as true for businesses as it is for people. When the economy gets crazy and none of the old rules seem to work, it’s time to trim the bloat and get back to basics.
The sun always shines after a storm. There are positive economic times and an abundance of opportunities just around the next corner. The lean, efficient entrepreneurs will survive to do business on those bright days.