The Starting from Scratch Syndrome
The Starting from Scratch Syndrome is a propensity for trying to reinvent the wheel. Clearly, it’s wasting time and effort duplicating something that already exists.
From our vantage point, working with countless small business owners, this syndrome manifests in several areas.
For example: building a Company Operation Manual from scratch when many document templates exist for free.
Or spending a considerable amount of money having customized software designed from the ground up. It is better, and more cost-effective, to use ready-to-go solutions offered by a well-established software company.
If customization is necessary, some software firms will add those special features as an alternative to starting from ground zero.
Unfortunately, by the time a small business gets close to developing their own functional customized software, the result is often the loss of valuable time and money.
A Season for Starting from Scratch
To be truthful, there is a season; a time when starting from scratch is right.
There are opportunity zones, unique situations that open a door for entrepreneurs to discover a new niche; which is very profitable, not to mention life-changing.
In 2003 we started from scratch, investing years into developing our BPM – Business Process Management Software. However, before making that decision we searched the world over for a solution that would solve our business frustrations once and for all. We did NOT want to reinvent the wheel!
HOWEVER, we found little in the software market that would help organize our business from front to back, systematically. You see we were searching for MORE than a Job and Service tracking software; we wanted a solution that even “big business” would envy.
For example: UNDER ONE ROOF, we wanted a Job and Service tracking, a Daily Routine System, Quality Control System, CRM, Repair Request & Preventive Maintenance System, CAPA system, New Hire Orientation systems, Document Management system, Document Designer System, and much more.
We wanted it to be a browser-based software that would function on desktops, tablets, or phone.
Again, within this framework, and at that time in the market, we found nothing.
Actually, we found bits and pieces of software solutions that might have worked. However, we realized that, at that time, using too many software solutions would be chaotic and more time consuming than using our manual system.
Given this circumstance, we started from scratch.
As a result, it took over a year to roll out our first version BPM – Business Process Management software with the bells and whistles we couldn’t find in other ready-to-go solutions.
Counting the Cost by Measuring
As I said, developing something previously created or optimized by others may be wasting time and money. Again, there are circumstances and seasons, where starting from scratch is the best option.
Still, before starting from scratch on ANYTHING, we recommend spending time researching the new idea, to AVOID “reinventing the wheel”.
As business professionals, we’ve all had projects we THOUGHT wouldn’t take much time, and that we would SAVE money by building them ourselves. We realized later; it was a BIG mistake!
Consequently, the project cost us TWO or THREE times more than first imagined.
To avoid this blunder, we MEASURED our WASTE and found that, with the right business system, we could save thousands of dollars per year.
In fact, BEFORE starting the costly effort of designing our BPM software, we developed a manual system. Whereby, we tweaked and modified our manual system for EIGHT YEARS, proving its value.
Our reasoning was, if our manual system WORKED, we knew our plans for a custom software would work better, exponentially.
Before considering something as a COST, such as a business asset or service, think of it as an INVESTMENT.
In conclusion, if a business asset or service costs money, the business probably doesn’t need it. If it doesn’t make the business money, then why buy it? Scratch the idea!
Did I mention? Great systems make money!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.