It's OK to Spill a Little
You can’t sell from an empty wagon. If you aren’t too busy, you aren’t busy enough. Keep all the balls in the air. It’s OK to spill milk...you can always clean it up. If you want something done right, give it to a busy person. What are the other metaphors that apply?
Too often I find many small-business people to be too conservative. I don’t mean in the political sense. I mean they become too risk-adverse and afraid to take on new things because they are "too busy." "I will think about that tomorrow," as Scarlett O’Hara said to Rhett Butler in "Gone with the Wind."
Of course there is another extreme. There are those people that tend to be scatterbrained and never focus on one important thing. Life and business can be a challenge and depending on our personality, one must manage "within our limitations." As Clint Eastwood said in "Dirty Harry:" "He didn’t know his limitations."
What’s this got to do with us? It’s simple. We need to keep challenging ourselves to find out where our limitations are. Another way to look at it is to ask ourselves, "Where are the bottlenecks in our company that keep us from growing and/or becoming more efficient?"
I always felt that if I did not have more than I could get done, it was time to take on something new. The same is true for staff members. If they are not taxed a bit, they become inefficient. I recall one acquisition we did that came shortly after we had done a pretty big one two months prior. We really had all we could absorb with the first one. But, the second opportunity was going to pass us by if we didn’t jump on it.
We ended up spilling a bit. Our customer service suffered for a while as we merged new people and started running a company that was twice the size as it was only a couple of months before. We came out of it fine even though we spilled a few customers who became unhappy with our service, and we weren’t close enough to them to notice. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Just don’t ask my former partner or the staff members! It was rough on them, but we all got through it and we were a much bigger and more successful company as a result.
Spilling a little can make good business sense as long as you don’t put your company at too much risk. Sometimes you just gotta go for it.
Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.