How To Improve Each Area Of Your Business

Hoe Kan Je Alle Delen Van Je Bedrijf Verbeteren? - Webdesign Mechelen
"Focus on being productive instead of being busy" - Tim Ferriss

Running a company can be quite complex.

As an entrepreneur you're constantly trying to improve your business by trying out new things. But off-course not everything is equally as important which makes it sometimes unclear if your time, energy and money is spent in the best way possible to achieve your goals.

You have to manage the different areas of your company which can be overwhelming at times, you have to stay on top of the continuous influx of new information and technologies that you can use and at the same time be able to manage your personal life.

We all want more "bang for the buck" on both a personal and professional level!

But how do we find the key actions that'll make the most impact on our (business) life?

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The 5 Areas Of Your Company

In order to find these crucial actions it is useful to divide your business into smaller parts. This helps to maintain an overview and makes it easier to tackle each part separately.

The 5 core areas of any business - according to Josh Kaufman - are the following;

  1. Value creation (Offering a service or product with an added value)
  2. Marketing (That's of interest to others)
  3. Sales (Where they are willing to pay for) 
  4. Value delivery/Customer Satisfaction (Delivering your product/service whilst meeting the expectations and needs of your clients)
  5. Finances (At a price that makes it worthwhile for you to continue your operations)


Any action that isn't focused on improving one of these 5 core areas is at best unnecessary/inefficient, and at worst outright harmful and wasteful.

Alright, but how can we find the specific actions to improve these parts?

The WIGWAM Method

A simple method that you can use to improve every part of your company is the WIGWAM method. This stands for;

  1. Watch (What are the factors that influence this area of your business? What are the current things that are working/not working?
  2. Ideate & Guess (What are your options to improve these factors? + What is - based on your current knowledge -  the "best" action you can take to improve this?)
  3. Which? (Choose your top 3!)
  4. Act (What needs to happen for this change to take effect?)
  5. Measure (Measure your result! Were you changes favorable/unfavorable?)


This might seem obvious, but "common knowledge" is not always common practice. We are sometimes so absorbed in the hustle of our business that we do not take time to take a step back and reflect on our actions.

To give a better idea of exactly how this is done, I have listed below a brief description of each step and some useful tips.

If this all sounds too obvious, you can simply skip this step and check how you can start applying these in your life.

1) Watch

Stap 1: Determine which factors influence the five core parts of your business

  1. What are the factors that determine the value/rate of production of your product/service?
  2. What are the factors that determine the effectiveness of your marketing?
  3. What are the factors that determine the effectiveness of your sales?
  4. What are the factors that determine whether your clients are satisfied with your product/service?
  5. What are the factors that determine whether your business is financially feasible?
  6. What's working right now? What isn't? (Do more of the first and less/none of the latter) 

2) Ideate 

Stap 2: Brainstorm about the possible solutions!

Have you ever had a conversation where you solve your own problem by simply speaking to another person? Or have you ever tried visualizing your problem by making drawings or writing things down? This is called externalization.

See, your head is a bit like a factory that produces the answers to the questions you ask it. However, people have a better overview of the information in their heads by either writing their thoughts down on paper or saying them out loud.

"We don't know what we think until we see what we say" - Clifford Geertz

Tip: It is always best to find solutions to problems and not their causes. The way you ask the question can make a huge difference! Questions such as:

  • Why do my finances suck? 
  • Why don't I have any customers? 
  • Why doesn't anyone pay attention to my advertisements?

Can be improved by:

  • What should be done to improve my finances? 
  • How can I attract more clients for my company? 
  • How can I make sure more people read my promotions? 

The nuance may be small, but the answers you get are very different and much more useful. Try to catch yourself on problem-oriented thinking regularly!

To find as much ideas as possible, try the following;

  • Brainstorming
  • Restperiod (Incubation)
  • SCAMPER
  • Learning from others

2.1) Brainstorming

Webdesign Mechelen | Outside The Box

This is probably a technique that everyone knows.

Just take out a sheet of paper and in the middle  write down the problem-solving question or just pose it to yourself out-loud.

Then just write down all the answers that come to mind!

The key here is not to restrict yourself, filtering only comes afterwards.

2.2) Restperiod (Incubation)

Much of our thinking happens at a subconscious level and studies show that switching from a focused state to a more superficial thinking period improves our creativity (1)

"The findings discussed in the current article support the idea that it is not merely the absence of conscious thought that drives incubation effects, but that during an incubation period unconscious processes contribute to creative thinking."

If the answer does not come naturally, it's a good idea to give yourself an incubation (rest) period where you first pose yourself the problem-solving question and then afterwards focus on some lighter work.

Your subconsciousness will then passively process this task in the background.

For example; you can write the question down on a piece of paper and hang it/place it in a place where you see it often. This will make sure the question stays fresh in your mind and you'll be able to provide your subconscious with enough repetitions to get to the answer you're looking for.

You've probably already experienced a similar situation where the answer to your problem came to you in the shower or whilst you're cycling. 

2.3) SCAMPER method

Do you have absolutely no idea where to start? Use SCAMPER. 

The SCAMPER method is simply a list of starting questions that can give your a starting point for your brainstorm. The scamper method stands for substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to other use, eliminate and reverse.

These are all ways you can use to alter each influencing factor of your business area. Read more here

2.4) Learning from others

There are probably other organizations that offer similar services/products that you can learn from! See how they approach each area of their business and just copy whatever seems to be working.

3) Guess/Which 

Stap 3: Choose the most likely option that will make the most impact.

Alright, so now we've compiled a list of possible ideas that can help improve your business. But where do we start?

Usually it's not really clear what to do with all those options and we simply try to make our best educated guess. It's a bit like a torpedo searching for its target. 

First we'll "scan" the environment and based on the feedback we get from our "tracking system", we make adjustments.


Eventually, we'll just try one direction, measure the feedback and then simply refine our actions until there is a "hit/result".

The step "guess" is appropriately named because this is our most likely bet to improve our business. Nobody can predict the future, it's all guesswork.

Simply choose your top three of all the options you've collected from the previous steps and try out the first (most likely one)!

4) Act 

Stap 4: Implement the change :)

How are you going to execute on this solution?

  • Is there any further information that you need to make this change, or do you need more advice? 
  • What tools will you use to address this? 
  • Who is responsible for which tasks?
  • When should it be finished?

If it is a change that requires a lot of time, energy or money, it is a good idea to first do a test phase, on a smaller scale!

5) Measure

Stap 5: Measure the result you've caused by the change!

Finally, don't just go at things blindly where you have no idea if your actions are working or not. How will you accurately measure whether your change has had an impact?

You can easily measure the impact of your actions by weekly tracking some values in an excel file. Here are some things you can keep track of; 

  • Amount of time per project/client
  • Regular quality tests for your product/service
  • Amount of calls made/prospects contacted
  • The amount of closes per meeting/call
  • Average feedback rating of your clients
  • Revenue per month
"What gets measured, gets improved" - Peter F. Drucker

"Now, all very cute quotes Simon, but how can we practically apply this info to the different parts of our business?"

Value Creation

Webdesign Mechelen | Value Creation

Value creation is the creation of your product or service with added value. Again, it's a good idea to divide this into smaller factors (watch). 

Questions you can ask yourself;

  • What factors contribute to the value of your product/service? How can you improve this? 
  • How can you improve the speed of your value creation?
  • How can you improve the quality of your product/service?
  • How can you test new concepts quickly enough before spending too much time/energy and money on them? (Don't waste months and years working on a product or service before testing the concept!) 
  • What new products/services can you offer to your clients? What are people currently looking for?
  • What value can you track to measure the impact of your actions in this area?
  • How are others doing this and what parts can I improve upon/copy?

Marketing & SalesWebdesign Mechelen | Marketing & Sales

Marketing & sales are generally about generating attention and convincing new clients. 

Questions you can ask yourself;

  • How can I make my business more remarkable/make it stand out more? 
  • What are other companies doing that stand out?
  • Who is my target market and where are they located? + What's the best way to reach them?
  • What are the benefits my clients derive from my offer? How can I emphasize these?
  • How can I present my offer visually, so they understand more clearly what I have to offer?
  • What are some free things that I could give away to inform my clients about the value of my services? 
  • How can I convince my clients of the value of my services?
  • How can I customize my website to get more prospects? (We can go over this one together! ;))
  • What are the main concerns of my clients and how can I counter these?
  • What metric should I track to measure the impact of my actions in this area? 
  • How are others doing this and what parts can I improve upon/copy?

Value Delivery/Customer Satisfaction 

During all the negotiations with you clients, you're making a lot of promises you're trying to keep. The satisfaction of your clients can be compared to the reality minus the expectations that you've drawn. You can promise the world and give it too, but still have unhappy clients.

For real satisfaction it's important to provide something extra that was not in the offering and consistently deliver the same quality level

Many companies employ very good tactics, but never consistently enough.

Imagine that every time you drink a Coke, you would taste a different flavor or when you go to the hairdresser you always have about 50% chance that they'll get your haircut right this time. 

What would happen?

You'd stop buying their products/services immediately. People love similarity in their purchases! So be sure to give it to them.

Questions you can ask yourself;

  • How can I surpass the expectations of my client? (Underpromise but overdeliver)
  • What tools can I use to improve the speed/quality of my service/product?)
  • How can I make my service/product more similar. (Create checklists/procedures/templates)
  • How can I follow-up consistently with my clients?
  • What value can I track to measure the impact of my actions in this area?
  • How are others doing this and what parts can I improve upon/copy?

FinanceWebdesign Mechelen | Finance

Of course the result of your hard work isn't in vain and you'll be rewarded for your efforts!

Try using as many ways to improve your finances by either; increasing the number of clients you have, increasing the frequency of purchase, raising your prices or by raising the purchase amount per client.

Questions you can ask yourself;

  • How can I increase my profit margin? (By reducing costs or increasing revenue) 
  • How can I win more clients and make them visit/buy more frequently? 
  • How can I increase the total purchase amount per client? 
  • What repeat purchase could I offer my clients?
  • How can I improve/expand the value of my product/service so that I can raise my prices? 
  • How can I simplify/automate my accounting?
  • Where can I invest my income into for a higher return on investment?
  • What value can I track to measure the impact of my actions in this area? 
  • How are others doing this and what parts can I improve upon/copy?

Essence

These are simply a number of ways you can use to improve your current tactics! If it all seems a bit overwhelming at the moment, that's ok.

You should not necessarily apply all the steps of the WIGWAM model on every part of your business. You can also just pick one evening (or a Sunday) where you try to answer some of these questions on a piece of paper. 

Then simply choose three things that you think would make the most impact on your company and try it out! The key to take away from this article is the power of taking a step back and reflecting on your current actions.

An hour of planning can prevent weeks and even months of wasted effort.

Keep in mind that I'm ultimately not an expert in all these areas but simply try to improve my actions based on the information I've learned so far and want to share that with you.

In the end we simply make the best choice from the available information that we currently have to steer our business in the right direction. 

If you do this and see some results - be sure to let me know in the comments below :)!

What other good questions can you ask to improve every part of your business?

Good luck & talk to you soon!

- Simon

References

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3990058/
  2. https://litemind.com/scamper/
  3. Personal MBA - Josh Kaufman
  4. The Ultimate Sales Machine - Chet Holmes
  5. Psycho-Cybernetics - Maxwell Maltz
  6. My Head

Questions/Suggestions?

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