Use Old Saws as the Tools of Business
When we sit in meetings there is a moment when someone uses one of the old saws below. As these are heard so often, they are usually ignored, but today we will consider their truth and try and throw in the odd business tip.
Another Day, Another Dollar
Always be on the lookout for another dollar. It can be revenue. It can be cost savings. At the end of each day ask yourself “where did I make my dollar today?”.
Low Hanging Fruit
Quick, easy and instantly rewarding defines low hanging fruit. For example, how about get your receivables in on time. Speaking of receivables, a quick phone call will bring better results than e-mails. Hard to do sometimes, but you need the personal touch.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Obvious right! Then why don’t you do it? How many times do you look at an Excel spreadsheet prepared by someone else and it is wrong and the reason is obvious. Excel is fickle. Check your work, include checks and balances, and please remember Excel does not substitute for common sense and it has no gut feel for the numbers.
Assumption is the Mother of All (you complete the sentence)
Assumption is never worth the time you thought it saved. It is the lazy way out. Empiricism is the foundation of decisive action. You can never avoid the risks but do not build your own extra risks in by way of assumptions.
No Time To Do It Right But Time To Do It Twice
This fits with measure twice cut once. Plan, budget, schedule, review thoroughly, criticize, revise and then do it for real. Forecasts, do them and regularly. Your budget is old; your variance analysis is just a guide. Re-think and forecast. Plan forward.
The Devil is in the Details
Scrutinize the detail in your product design, the detail in your contracts, the detail in your financial statements. Money creeps out the door if you do not watch the details. If you have a contract with a detailed work schedule and budget appended to it and something goes adrift you have a great chance of getting a change order. If not you will suck up the cost. And remember, change orders have a higher margin, you already have the customer.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
A killer in business. Are you at the mercy of your big customer or big supplier? They will turn on you. It is just a matter of time. One product, one market, one trick pony are all fatal in business.
Stick to Your Knitting
Of course you need new products, innovation and technological advances, but remember, the first car was a horse buggy with an engine. The trick is evolution not revolution. The iPod and iPad were a natural evolution for Apple’s computers.
99% Off Course and Constantly Correcting
If you sail from Vancouver to Hawaii you are off the direct line most of the time. The trick – observe, adapt to conditions, keep your chosen destination in mind. This is especially true for a start up.
So, next time you hear any of the above treat it as a wakeup call. Seize the day, get cracking, jump right in and remember, they got to be old saws by containing basic wisdom. Pull the ladder up mother, I can swim!