Upside, Downside, and The Problem with Slothiness

Upside, Downside, and The Problem with Slothiness

Next week I’m traveling to the UK with one of my clients.

We’ll be flying business class, drinking champagne, and spending many hours talking about the next stage of his business growth.

I’ve been working with this client for almost five years now. In fact, it’s the same client who was featured in one of the early and most famous Tuesday Tidbits written years ago. At that time, we were getting together to discuss what working together might look like.

Here we are five years later.

When we’re doing a good job and providing value to our clients, they continue to keep working with us. One of the most valuable metrics for customer retention is often the most obvious one.

This client and I have developed a fantastic working relationship where I’ve acted as a trusted advisor and confidante to many areas of the business.

As I prepare for this trip, it got me thinking about the majority of my clients ranging anywhere from a few million in revenue to north of a billion in revenue and the traits they share.

My best clients are the ones who try things quickly. Plain and simple.

They also get help when they need it and aren’t afraid to make the needed investments.

They set up business experiments, move quickly from the ones that fail, and invest heavily in the ones that show promise.

Let me give you an example of both.

With this client in particular, he’s a manufacturer in an industry that’s historically been pretty status quo.

One of the things we’re continually trying to do is disrupt the business model or the old way of doing things. Some of our implementations work remarkably well, and others don’t.

For example, one initiative dramatically changed the business providing a variety of benefits including increased revenue, decreased days to cash, improved customer engagement/community, and much more.

We set up an industry-specific platform to connect him to buyers, much like Kickstarter – this allowed him to presell his products and generate cash before spending money on R&D, and avoid expensive, timely development costs. This allowed the customers to become a more significant part of the brand’s story.

It was also entirely untraditional to his industry.

With another client, one of the things we tried to do was update a few of their existing processes. When we did so, it worked as expected, but found it was taking time away from fulfilling their client needs in other areas.

I wouldn’t say the intervention was a failure, it was just the wrong time, and there were other holes in the bucket that needed fixing first. We were able to make mid-course corrections and set ourselves up for success when the timing was better.

That’s true of most business experiments. I see company after company failing to pull the trigger on change efforts because, “What if they fail?”

Well, so what if they fail? 

There’s no scorecard at the end that rewards you for making the safest choices, or for never being wrong.

The scorecard measures your successes, and how well you were able to capitalize on them.

Investments that have a low downside (except for embarrassment, minor expense or inconvenience), but immensely positive upsides should be no-brainers.

The challenge for this week is simple: 

Look at the things you’ve hesitated on trying. Look at the investments you could have made over the past six months, but didn’t. These might include training, or launching new products and service offerings, or they might be implementing a new process that some of your people might not like immediately…

Whatever it is, look at it through the lens of upside & downside. 

You can exhibit these behaviors in your own business without having me there, of course. I give you those actions every single week!

Pick a tidbit, and take action! 

Pick a strategy you’ve heard me talk about, and get going! 

Take a challenge and give it a try. Send me your results, and I’ll respond!

Obviously, you’ll get the best results when we can work together to identify exactly which issues would produce the most impactful results, but you can get started on your own, without me!

In fact, some of my best clients said that by the time they hired me, I’d already paid for myself – the strategies they’d implemented from these Tidbits, and from some of my talks had helped them grow enough that they wanted to step on the gas by working directly together.