So I want to talk to you about two companies. One that sells 40 cupcakes and one that sells 100.
On face value the 100 cupcake company is the better one, but we all know to take that with a pinch of salt. For example the 100 cupcake company could be losing huge amounts of money on every sale whereas the 40 one could be make loads instead.
Simple really when you think about it, and yet something in your gut still wants you to think of the 100 cupcake business as the better one.
This basic desire for the bigger number is a human thing, it’s a basic fault we all have in built. We fail to prioritise what we are really aiming for (profit) instead just going for the big shiny number.
It’s why the phrase “busy fools” came about, humans just love to fool themselves into thinking that being busy is best.
I was guilty of this once and I want to tell you why after 8 years it still grates on me.
Along with some friends we had booked to go to Sean Locke, a comedian, one evening in Newcastle. We had friends coming from all over the UK for a semi reunion and it was one of those events you’d pin up in the social calendar.
But when the time got close I got an offer to go to an event, an event that promised lots of business rewards, and so I didn’t go. I had spent months thinking of this night out and in the end ditched it for my work.
I didn’t get anything out of the event I chose to go to instead. Worse still I had been to one before but because I felt guilty at not being busy I went anyway, tricking myself into thinking it would be worth my while.
It’s a funny thing the desire to be busy. Busyness simply doesn’t equal success.
Looking back now, I regret that decision to a degree but I wouldn’t change it. It had such a profound effect on my attitude towards business, to focus on output that I think overall it was a positive that I made that mistake.
Yet focusing on output only tells half the story. Output much like being busy can be false because you focus on the 100 and not the 40.
Weighing up then the right output for your end goal is what’s really important. If you’re goal is simply to sell 100 cakes then great, but if you want to survive and buy a nice house for your family that outcome is going to have to centre around financial goals like profit.
Output then shouldn’t be something physical, it should be financial.
Still today, in a very different world I see the same output mistake being made by big businesses. For example one particular business I work with is obsessed by two things, leads and applications.
Neither of these are financial measures. You can have all the leads in the world and 1000’s of applications, but if they never actually pay you any money then what’s the point.
You also have a situation where a “meet the target” at all costs situation becomes the agenda of the day. I was recently engaged to create a sister business to the aforementioned company. The original business had transformed over time but as it stood it was run by two guys.
Two guys seems a small amount and the owners of the business felt so too, these two guys must be experts.
But when I arrived it transpired that these two guys were employing a legion of external consultants, somewhere in the region of 10, to do all their work.
What you got was a satisfactory lead result, but I was up against a team of 10 to make my business work and their budget was ridiculous; yet no one noticed this spend because it was never a “marketing cost” as displayed next to the lead total.
Focusing on being busy then or the wrong type of output can be fatal for a business. Don’t do it.
Keep it simple and make money your end goal. Don’t be fooled by the vanity of size.
• Effort does not guarantee success
• Running the wrong way down the motorway won’t help you achieve your goal
• Being busy isn’t always a good thing; output is more important
• Output should be measured by the financial impact on your business
Read our next blog post “Find a ham sandwich idea”.