I learned many lessons during a very rainy and cold sojourn out in the forest with the North Carolina Outward Bound School; the value of teamwork, the joy of overcoming real fear, the sense of accomplishment that comes with pushing past your limits. But the greatest lesson I took away is one that we learned on that first day. Keep it simple – travel light.
As entrepreneurs and leaders, we are responsible for making decisions about how our company outfits itself to perform, compete and grow. The more processes, rules, procedures, manuals, equipment, real estate, staff, inventory, etc., we accumulate along the way, the more it weighs us down.
Here are some practical ways I have found to keep our company’s backpack light and manageable:
Pack light – Keep a close eye on inventory turnover. Most companies have far too much money tied up in dead inventory. If a product is not selling, mark it down and get it off your shelf. Teach your sales reps to sell what you have and don’t try to stock everything all of the time. Remember, you often make your profit by how and what you buy, not just what you sell. Buy smart.
Lead the way – Seek out vendors who continually bring in new and exciting products and services. Every time you offer your customers these kinds of products, you separate yourself from the competition and reinforce their desire to give you the business.
Leave no trace – Teach your people to only buy the supplies and products they need to get their jobs done in the foreseeable future. Excess supplies require extra shelves, closets and warehouse space. Let your vendors store this stuff on their nickel. Cut the clutter and cut down on the waste. Don’t leave a mess lying around.
Move forward as a team – Everyone has bad days (and sometimes weeks). Make it part of your company culture to know each other’s rhythms and choose together to carry each other’s pack when necessary. Make getting to the goal as a group a high value among your people.
Lead from the Front - As the leader, it is your job to set the pace that everyone else will follow. Make it a point to set a pace that is aggressive enough to ensure high growth while still being attainable and sustainable by your people.
Swap packs once in a while - Everyone benefits from gaining a fresh perspective. Take advantage of slow times in your business cycle to cross-train as many employees as possible. When the trail gets steep and muddy, you will be glad you did.
Go jump in the lake - Life is too short to not have fun as we work. Make time and opportunities to have fun with your people. Give them friendly competitions that will focus their energies and harness their playful imagination. Most of all, set the example by not taking yourself too seriously. Unless you run an emergency room, police station or fire department; keep in mind that this business is not a life and death thing. Have fun!
Think about how you can influence your company in ways that will make your corporate journey together more fun, impactful and profitable and make it happen!