No, I Will Not Take Out The Trash – Zig Zag Principle #40

September 23rd, 2011 by Rich Christiansen

Adding resources is harder than it sounds, but it’s the only way you’ll build your dream.  I have a neighbor who owns a shoe repair shop.  This man makes a decent living and takes care of his family’s basic needs.  However, to keep his head above water, he has to work day after day, week after week, repairing those shoes single-handedly.  If he needs a day off, he has to close the shop.  Same if he’s under the weather or has to take care of a sick wife or child.  Of course, that leads to a loss of income.  Now, his business model allows for some days off, but it’s a pretty thin margin.  If something major happened, the effects could be catastrophic.

My friend has made it through zig number 1 profitability—but he has not thought to turn his skis in the other direction for zag number 2.  In other words, he has not added the resources that would allow him to live a fuller, richer, and safer life.

A key reason many people have a hard time adding resources is they have become accustomed to micromanaging every aspect of their business. As hard as it can be to let go of control, as you hire the right people to fill in the gaps of knowledge or skill that you don’t have, and then as you help them learn your processes, your company will begin to reach its full potential.  Think of yourself as being akin to Emperor Shah Jahan, who may not have known how to carve flowers out of stone but was able to hire someone to do that job—and thus help him create his masterpiece.

I’m familiar with a family-owned business, run by a father and his sons, where the father has micromanaged every aspect of the business.  The father is now getting old and is about to retire.  He has talented sons who want to modernize the business, but his response is always, “We have been doing business this way for over forty years.  This is how it has to be done.” When the sons bring up the need to modernize equipment or processes, the father adamantly refuses. 

It’s no wonder the sons and their families are frustrated.  They feel stuck in a business that is archaic, and they would like a little leeway in bringing the business into the computer age and making it more productive. 

This example is common among family-run businesses, but the same plight is found among businesses founded by a strong-minded personality, who is then unwilling to bring in additional resources and let them do what they were hired to do. As you begin to take zag number 2 in order to grow your business, remembering that it is all about disciple will help you loosen your grip on the controls.  The imagine I keep in mind to help me do this (because, I’ll admit it, I can be a bit controlling) is what I call the “Yes, Yes, Yes, NO! Principle.”  While you are working on zig number 1 and trying to get to cash, you will, of necessity, say “Yes” to many things, such as:

  • Yes, I will do the accounting.
  • Yes, I will sell a small order that has potential for larger orders.
  • Yes, I will answer the phones.
  • Yes, I will take out the trash.
  • No, I will not compromise my values.

 

Now, as you add resources, it’s time to add a few more “Nos.”  Some of these might be:

  • No, I will not take out the trash. I will hire a cleaning person.
  • No, I will not do my own accounting. I will outsource my taxes to an accountant.
  • No, I will not answer the phones and do the bookkeeping. I will hire an administrative assistant.

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