I met with several business associates and affiliates recently to plan an upcoming Webinar we had titled, "Boss in a Box,” a nickname some had given our software, System100, because it allows companies to operate AS IF the boss/owner has been cloned, so as to oversee every job at once.
We discussed how our software aids businesses; listing its many benefits. We were also seeking anecdotes that would paint just the right picture—real life stories to best describe it. The team wanted to ensure that the people who had signed up for the upcoming Webinar would really “get it.”
One associate, Merle, a business owner from Hendersonville, TN, is an authentic country boy (the real deal, y’all!), and amazingly good-natured about being called our “redneck millionaire,” due to his molasses-slow southern drawl, and his business success.
Merle tends to use a lot of good ole' boy terminology when describing his business; especially how System100 (our "Boss in a Box" software) now gives him the advantage over his competitors. At times, Merle can be very comical and can lighten up any room in a nanosecond with his self-effacing humor.
"Guys, think of it like this,” Merle drawled. “Think of a business as a carton of eggs, and the eggs represent the jobs you do.” Merle paused, leaving everyone on the conference call waiting patiently for his notorious, often hilarious, homespun philosophy to find its mark.
“Y’all know,” Merle continued, in his thick Tennessee accent, “a carton is meant to hold a dozen eggs, right? Well, before Philip and I put in systems to my company, no matter how hard I tried, and no matter how long I worked at it, I just couldn't get that 13th egg in the carton without all my eggs breakin’!”
The rest of us didn’t know whether to remain silent, or burst out howling—but we GOT IT, what Merle was saying to us:
The reason most businesses CAN’T grow is...they are not prepared for the chaos new business can bring, and they buckle or implode under the weight of growth.
See Superman—Success at the Speed of Systems.
As soon as the words "thirteen eggs" came out of Merle’s mouth, it sent my mind back to the early 1990's when the same thing had happened to me. I couldn't work long enough or hard enough then, without errors being made, job orders failing to be placed in process, appointments being missed, employees walking out, customers leaving, etc. The more I tried to grow the business, the more “eggs” we broke. I just couldn't put that “13th egg” in my carton either, without it cracking and causing chaos.
My wake-up call came from a walk-in customer one afternoon, telling me the hard truth about the way our business looked from his view. He described our front offices as a “mess,” and strongly suggested we “clean it up.”
Thankfully, that customer didn't see our production area that day, because it looked (as it normally did) like a typhoon had just blown through. The customer was right, and I was embarrassed. It was true: my company operated and looked like a carton of broken eggs. And, the more we grew, the more eggs were in jeopardy.
The answer to our problem came in the form of a how-to book from a concerned friend; then MORE books, as I began a quest to bring order to my business—gaining knowledge about business systems, and simply making the decision to CLEAN UP ALL THE BROKEN EGGS that anyone with eyes could see.
I also searched and built tools—the System100 software—and implemented written processes and quality control procedures to ensure safe accommodations for the “eggs” entrusted to us by our customers.
Thanks for the analogy, Merle, and for the benefit of your simply-stated logic that helps many to GET IT, where these “Boss in a Box” systems are concerned!
Did I mention? Great systems work!
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.