I had to make a long drive this weekend. Shortly after I left, I noticed my car was pulling hard to the left. I had to turn the wheel to the right and hold it firm to stay in my lane and not drift across the road. I stopped to check and found my front left tire was a little low. Unfortunately, I was in a remote area and it was many miles to a service station where I could add air to my tire. By the time I go there, I was already tired from fighting the car to keep it on course and I still had most of my trip ahead of me. Once I filled the tire, the rest of my trip was much easier and more comfortable.
When our car is properly maintained and when all the tires are in balance, it runs much more smoothly and with less effort and stress than when we neglect it.
The same is true in business. A business runs best and with the least amount of effort and stress when all aspects of the business are properly maintained. When we neglect any one key area, it puts additional stress the rest of the business and we have to work much harder to stay on course.
If you neglect your marketing, you’ll soon find it’s tough to keep bringing in new business.
If you neglect customer service, you’ll have unhappy customers—and yes, they will talk.
If you neglect your finances, you’ll soon find yourself in the red or, worse yet, in trouble with the IRS.
So, how do you keep your business firmly on track and running smoothly on all cylinders?
You need scheduled maintenance. Just as scheduled maintenance for your car keeps it running well, scheduling proper maintenance for your business will also keep it running well.
As part of your work routine, you need to schedule time for the critical aspects of your business, including marketing, customer service, finance, product development, along with other tasks that may be integral to your business success.
Some of your tasks may be delegated to an employee or assistant; others might be tasks you must complete yourself. If you aren’t yet ready for outsourcing, you will need to develop self-discipline—and a calendaring system—to complete even those essential tasks that you don’t particularly enjoy.
Whether you delegate the tasks or do it all yourself, you need to work out a system that allows you to devote the necessary time and effort to your critical tasks. Figure out how much time you need to spend on each of your business’ critical task and then set aside appropriate blocks of time on a regular basis. If your critical tasks are taking more than the amount of time you need to work, or if they are cutting into your profitability, then it is probably time to consider what you can outsource. If there is a task you find yourself putting it off because you either hate it or dread it, that is the first thing you should outsource.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, unexpected problems can crop up, just as they do in cars from time to time. And just as tending to that funny noise under the hood right away can forestall an expensive auto repair, so can dealing promptly with business problems keep them from turning into a business-damaging crisis.
Taking a road trip in a properly-maintained car is much more fun than traveling in a broken-down jalopy. Riding to success in a well-maintained business is also more enjoyable than bumping along from crisis to crisis.
Which type of business are you driving?