• Are you up-to-date in every aspect of your business?

    14 Jun 2019 | 12:00 am

    A prophet wrote, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6 NASB). Today, business requirements will change at the drop of a hat. Read trade magazines, attend industry seminars, and attend trade shows to keep abreast of the[…]


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Category >> Management
Apr 15

Make Effective Trade-offs

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

I have a problem.  I want the best cost, the fastest speed, and the top quality all at once.  Reality teaches me that I can’t always have all three.  Often, I need to choose.  Some people say that you can have any two, but not all three. However, I try to find a balance among all three.  I try to find the best trade-off in any given circumstance.

When I approach a project, I determine my goal, what is needed, when it is needed, and how much it will cost. Each becomes a moving part requiring management.  That’s also where trade-offs occur.

Consider the budget process.  I start by asking two questions:  what funds do I have available and what funds should I spend? A business startup may have $1,000 to invest on a website. Expensive, original art work is not a possibility with this budget. The starting place involves stock images with original copy. With modern web tools they can get the website up and running in a few days at a low cost, but it won’t be the most impactful site. The budget required a trade-off:  using low-cost tools and in-house skill for higher priced web design services.

Time is another important component.  When a customer wants delivery on the first of the month and will cancel the order if not met; then, saving money or improving quality is a moot point. You must meet the time demand.  However, when you have limited staff or budget; that could be difficult.

 I was working with a ministry to launch a project. They needed a marketing specialist who was expensive. I suggested that they work out an arrangement with the expert to give him extra time to complete the work, but at a lower cost. The expert was able to use the job to fill open time over the next months. The time trade-off produced excellent quality at a lower cost.

In another example, I was working with a client who opened a new store location. They had messed up and not started the build out until late. This required spending more money on a contractor to get the place ready in time.  It was an unfortunate trade-off.

When I needed to hire a house painter, I talked with several people. One was very expensive but his quality was masterful. However, I didn’t need masterful quality for the minor improvement I was after.  Instead, I selected a competent painter at a lower price. The difference in the finished work was minimal. Had I restored an 1850 home, I would have hired the high cost expert.

Each project is different. Don’t let impatience make you spend more for faster delivery when it isn’t necessary.  Spend more for quality when it counts, but understand when to cut back when it doesn’t. Consider each moving part, its relationship to the project, and know what you require in the end.

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Mar 25

The Importance of Incremental Change

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

Most change in business is incremental.  That means that one small change or improvement builds upon another.  Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Tipping Point, makes the case that small incremental changes can reach a point to where they tip to unleash a flood of success. The result isn’t so much about the last step, but about the culmination of many steps.

Jan 17

Interfering With Managers

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

A common problem in businesses is when a business owner or senior manager consistently interacts, manages, or corrects staff who report directly to another person. While their intent to help is good, this typically creates confusion and rarely works. The staff person will become frustrated trying to please the direct supervisor and the other boss. This is especially true when work is assigned or changed. Then, both bosses become angry as each believes that their work should be done first.  The employee winds up caught in the middle.

Jan 15

Changing Project Specifications

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

Over the past several months I have received three questions about what to do when management changes specifications or time allocation for major projects.

Dec 26

Audit Your Business

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

I spoke with a business owner a while ago. The presenting issue was a negative slide in sales that pushed his business from marginal profitability into the red. He wanted more business and help with a marketing plan.  My initial review showed that most of his business transactions were by cash. I asked if he ever audited his cash or checked to make sure all the cash was recorded. The short answer was no.