From my experience one of the biggest causes of grief in my businesses over the years has been spending way too much time cleaning up the mess because I didn't spend enough time working on the details in the beginning. I got caught up in the excitement of a new project or a new client and rushed through the details, paying the price down the line.
Today I try to spend as much time as I can working on the details before I sign up a new client or commit to a new project. In fact I go to great lengths to slow things down, to ensure that everything is done correctly, right at the time when most people want to speed things up. I suggest taking this approach in a number of areas of your business.
1. Spend more time up front with your clients
I am a big believer in spending more time up front with your clients before you start a project. This ensures that you are really clear about their expectations, their objectives and their time frames and they are really clear about your expectations, your time frames and your requirements to get the job done.
2. Spend more time up front with your suppliers
I recommend that when you are planning to use a new supplier it makes good sense to spend time talking through your needs and expectations to make sure the supplier can deliver. It is very frustrating to find that a supplier can't deliver to your time frames, especially when you have already told your customers that you could.
I have had suppliers that I have worked with for almost 20 years and most of this is due to the fact that our relationships started off on the right footing.
3. Spend more time up front when working on your estimates and proposals
We have all ended up doing jobs where we don't make any money because we didn't think the job or project through in enough detail. This really needs to be avoided. These days it seems that we are getting less time to prepare quotes and in many cases it is a ridiculously short amount of time.
If you don't spend enough time really thinking through and planning a quote, and being very specific about what you need from the customer to complete the job on time, it can come back to haunt you. Specifically it can cost you a lot of money.
4. Spend more time up front working out your prices
A lot of businesses don't actually put a lot of thought into their prices, preferring instead to go with approximations and trying to figure out what people are prepared to pay. I have worked with a surprisingly large number of businesses who can never make a profit because they simply don't charge enough.
Setting prices needs to be done in a smart way taking into consideration our expenses, our available working hours, cost of goods and a clarity on how much profit we want to make.
5. Spend more time up front with your new staff
Before you sign on the bottom line to employ a new member to your team, it is vitally important to spend a considerable amount of time talking about your business, your vision, your goals and your expectations to the potential staff member, and spending an equal amount of time talking to your new potential staff member about their goals, expectations, ideas etc. There needs to be a strong alignment between the two.
How many of us have had to spend a lot of time and money cleaning up the mess created from employing badly?
The real moral to this story is to slow our businesses down. Spend more time planning and thinking through the important issues rather than wasting time cleaning up the mess. An added bonus to this slowing down process is that we actually get to enjoy our business a lot more and our overall level of professionalism increases.