Running a business is a bit like owning a dog. There’s an initial commitment and lots of excitement at first, and then reality sets in. So allow me to share how my family’s experience in dog-ownership might help you improve how you run your business.
Recently, I got my daughters a puppy. And your response is:
A) “Ah, what a nice guy you are.”
B) “We love dogs. Way to go.”
C) “What in the heck were you thinking with that one, eh Steveo?!”
Yes, I admit that there have been a few times (say, 5:00 a.m. this morning!) when I have thought that last thought too, but mostly, it’s gone great. But it was not always so; this is not the first time we have owned a dog. The last time didn’t go so well. My wife, kids and I were overwhelmed with the work involved, the dog never really took to housetraining, she barked a lot, and in the end, we had to give her away to an older couple who had more time and patience than we did back then.
We waited a long time and talked a lot before deciding to head down that path again.
This time? My girls are teenagers now and far more responsible. They are more able to buy into the program. I have more time to train our cute little Goldendoodle. My sweet wife is on board. All in all, the disasters of a decade ago are a distant memory and little Rosie already feels like a long-time part of the family.
So what does this have to do with your business? Plenty.
Many businesses start out sort like the Strauss house did with our original puppy – full of enthusiasm and good intentions, but short on experience, skills, know-how, and follow-through. Sometimes those fledgling businesses even have to admit defeat, like we did.
Mostly however, businesses figure out how to make it work – again, like we did. What that really means is that after the initial startup phase ends, the business matures and begins to institute policies and procedures that standardize things.
Sure, they remain flexible and innovative as any good small business should (that’s our strength after all), but like a puppy, eventually, a business has to grow up. It will then concentrate more on what it does best and less on less important matters.
Example: Here we are at Concur Breeze. There is a great testimonial here from Popchips. In it, they explain that one of the beauties of adding Concur Breeze to their business systems is that it simplified and streamlined the accounting process. Employees were able to spend more time doing their job and less time on mundane expense accounting.
And you can bet that that extra time spent on better things will eventually mean more money for Popchips. So that’s the lesson. By creating smart systems and processes, by adopting technology that allows you to be more efficient, mature businesses spend less time chasing their tail and more time being a good dog.