Tuning up your business? Be sure to do things in the right order!
If you ever owned an older car, you’ll remember that you needed to make regular adjustments to keep it running at its best.
You couldn’t just do the tweaks in any order, though.
Without getting too technical, you’d need to sort out the electrical systems before you tinkered with the fuel. Only after you’d got the ignition timing correct and reliable was it worth adjusting the amount of petrol entering the carburettor. If you did it the other way round, you’d end up with a car that ran badly, used too much fuel or both.
In other words, you’d be making work for yourself. Your car wouldn’t run optimally until you’d gone back and tuned the ignition before adjusting the carburettor once again.
Tuning up your business – logically
When it comes to ‘tuning up’ your business, similar rules apply. If you improve certain aspects of your business before others, then you can run into major problems.
Let’s take an example. You decide you want to increase sales, so you plough money into a marketing campaign.
The campaign is a major hit. Customers flock to buy your product. Thousands of orders are pouring in each day.
The question now is whether you can fulfil those orders. If you can’t, it could be because of one of these issues:
- You don’t have enough products to meet demand
- You don’t have the capacity to send the products out quickly enough
- Your finance and / or fulfilment department can’t handle the increased number of transactions
Now you’ve got real problems.
You’re disappointing your customers because you can’t get products to them quickly enough, if at all. Your financing and fulfilment teams are becoming mutinous because they have a huge workload and not enough resources. Angry customers are leaving bad reviews and social media posts all over the place.
You haven’t tuned up your business – you’ve probably damaged it.
The reason? You needed to tune up different areas of your business first. You needed to invest in product supply. You needed to make sure your finance and fulfilment teams could cope with extra demand. And only then should you have launched your marketing campaign.
The way to avoid this problem is to decide on your goal and then list all the steps – in order – that you need to take to achieve it. In the example we’ve looked at, the aim is to sell more of a certain product. To achieve it, the steps you need to take are:
- Project the demand for your product
- Invest in enough product to meet projected demand
- Ensure you can fulfil the extra orders
- Ensure your finance / IT / other systems can cope with the spike in demand
- Launch your marketing campaign.
Of course, this is a simplified timeline. The key point however, is that all the different aspects of your business are related to each other – and they need to work in harmony.
Returning to our old car analogy, if you suddenly increase orders it’s a bit like putting a higher octane fuel in your tank. Unless you change the ignition timing to handle it, you’ll suddenly find the engine running badly – and could even damage it permanently.
So, before the orders come flooding in, make sure all the other parts of your business ‘engine’ are ready for the change – that way the increased demand will run as smoothly as possible!
About Ben Locker
Ben Locker is a copywriter who specialises in business-to-business marketing, writing about everything from software and accountancy to construction and power tools. He co-founded the Professional Copywriters’ Network, the UK’s association for commercial writers, and is named in Direct Marketing Association research as ‘one of the copywriters who copywriters rate’.