“If you make your business about helping people you will always have plenty of work.”
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, page 187
This quote on page 187 made me think of a Japanese strategy, tactic, philosophy, or discipline known as “Kaizen.”
Kaizen in its simplest form means “incremental improvement.” It is the polar opposite of advancing one’s current situation by taking a quantum leap. At first glance, taking a huge new step in a new direction may sound prudent, but time and again it has proven to be a failing strategy.
Let me explain the kaizen method by using an example I am sure most of you can identify with. I think it is safe to say that the majority you reading this column today find McDonald’s French fries to be both tasty and addictive. Most of you also know that these fried, salty potato sticks are not very healthy. As logical as it may sound, giving up these treats “cold turkey” is a lot easier said than done.
Unless, that is, we adopt the kaizen approach to do just that. Here is how it works: the next time you find yourself ordering at McDonald’s purchase a bag of french fries and before eating the entire bag, throw one single french fry away. The next time you’re browsing through the golden arches throw two french fries away before showing down. The assignment calls for three, four, five less French fries, etc. for the next six months. Soon, you will be buying a bag of French fries for a $1.50 which consists of a single French fry. In all probability this will go against your frugal nature and you will have weaned yourself off of these dangerous side dishes.
That’s how kaizen works; now let’s look at how this same approach can put more money in your bank account. By making small adjustments to the way you handle your prospects and clients day by day, contact by contact, the overall improvement will prove to be staggering.
I am not familiar with the way you run your business today, so I cannot with any degree of accuracy suggest any type of small improvement. You are going to have to undertake this assignment for yourself. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. You were just looking for small ways you can add more value to your customer relationship without entirely giving up your current methods.
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