Over the years I have reviewed a large number of business operations. Following are a few of the major mistakes businesses make in their business operations
Most businesses, large and small, have too many things they do over and over which sap time away from being more productive. For instance, there are still business people who will write the same email or letter from scratch instead of making a template or form letter that can be easily tweaked instead of being rewritten each time. Same goes with most of the operations and procedures the business has set up. Instead of creating procedures to streamline their operations so it can react quickly to a customer's needs, they keep reinventing the same process when needed. The result is slow service or response to a customer's need.
Action Plans not thought out for the Negatives
Since most business owners are more sales oriented than operations oriented they sometimes will not look at what might happen if something goes wrong. This type of business person only wants to think of the positives and run from the realities that in every plan there is an 80% chance of something going wrong.
The sales only or driven businesses fear that thinking negatively will cause them to be negative or the negative they are thinking will happen.
The truth is thinking out a plan for all possible happening is positive. I am sure that if NASA had not sat down and thought out all that would go wrong in the attempt to put a man on the moon, I am sure it would have never happened.
A business with a sound operation will think out all that could happen as well as all they want to happen. This is a positive move for a well balanced business.
Projecting an Unsuccessful Image
One of the biggest mistakes I see too many business people make is to think that since they are in business they can act and dress the way they want to act and dress. In most cases, this results in a less than professional look or behavior.
Portraying an image of success is very, very important. Simply put, successful people are the people who have the money to spend. Successful people want to be around successful people, and successful people only want to do business with successful people. So, if you look and act successful chances are you will be able to do business with successful people.
The same goes for where people conduct business and where they go to network business connections. Nothing is worst to a business image than not holding to a high standard of business image. This does not mean you have to be in the high rent area to be successful. I have seen very successful businesses in some of the lowest rent section of town. What made them successful is that their building, office, signage and immediate surrounds were impeccable.
Portraying a successful image holds true online as well. Who you associate with online, how your web-site looks, what groups you join and what you provide online all will effect a business' image.
Being overly aggressive, obnoxious, arrogant and aloof is portraying a negative image. I see this mistake happen more than it needs to be happening and it is mostly done by two distinct personalities. First there is the person who is not aware of their negative image or does not care and thinks their action is popular or accepted by the people around them; and secondly the person who is desperate to generate business immediately. There are better ways to generating business that appearing obnoxious or desperate. Nothing turns off a prospective client quicker than appearing foolish or needy.
All of this is purely imagery, but is a fact of business life related to the operations of the business. If you look unsuccessful and hang out in places where other unsuccessful people hang out, then you will have a better chance of becoming successful.
More emphasis on Sales/Marketing
The classic mistake a sales and marketing driven business will make is to ignore the need for operations. I see it way too many times. Most of these type of businesses feel a sales driven organization will overcome all operational problems. They also will feel the operations side of the business is something that will take care of itself though high volumes of sales revenue.
There is no argument that a business could buy its operations, but what is arguable is that by the time the sale is final the product is usually suppose to be delivered, which is the operations part of the business. I get asked all of the time to take a look at a person's business operation only to find that everything they do is driven to make a sale and that there is not any operations procedures set up to service the sale after it is made.
The explanation I usually get is "I hate details", or "I just love the excitement of the sale more than the boring operations of my business". There are way too many people who are overly aggressive and live on the adrenaline of the excitement of making a sale who are going into business only to fail miserably. The result of a business that puts too much emphasis on sales and marketing will fail to deliver to their customers. These businesses without any operations muddy's the water for other businesses in that industry who balance their operations with marketing sales.
Lack of innovation
I usually am brought in to look at a problem a business has with something that deals with a change. Change is one of the biggest problems a sales driven business has to overcome. A business that has a sound operations or good operations manager usually will deal with change better than a company that feels that increased revenue will solve any problem that deals with a change. These companies that I am called in to look at what they are dealing with lack the ability to think outside the box or find innovative solutions. A business today has to be innovative to survive change.