Over and over again, in Elevator Pitches, you can hear consultants talk about being “in it for the long haul” for their clients. For many clients, that’s music to their ears. It’s just what they need.
If you’re a Small Business Owner, an Entrepreneur, or a Bootstrapper, the “long haul” can be more like the music you hear in a horror movie. For you, an ongoing expense is an additional problem you can’t afford. For you, the “quick fix” can be a life saver – a business life saver.
A couple owned a small business. They decided that they wanted to be able to expand and knew they had problems in their current state. They made an appointment to talk to an expert at streamlining operations. For the first appointment, the wife made herself unavailable – a meeting with a potential client. For the second appointment the husband made himself unavailable. In each appointment, the first issue was that the husband couldn’t do the heavy lifting any more. In the appointment with the husband, he was clearly under stress and frustrated. In the appointment with the wife, her second issue was that the husband woke up every morning saying, “I hate my life.” She said it was nearly impossible for her to keep herself motivated to work with the customers when her day started that way every day. She knew that part of it was the long hours but much of it was physical pain from the heavy lifting. In the separate meetings, they each confided that the business had almost resulted in a divorce but they were trying to work through it. In only minutes of hearing what other issues were troubling the owners, several other tasks were easily identified as tasks that could be clearly defined and done by a part-time Employee. A quick fix but a permanent solution.
A friend and I were having breakfast at the counter of a coffee shop we frequented. My friend was an auto body repair man. People in the coffee shop knew him well. A man came up to us and said, “My trunk won’t open and I have some important papers in it that I need for a meeting. I’ll give you $50.00 to get it open.” My friend wasn’t happy about the interruption and letting his breakfast cool off but he went out to the parking lot with the man. He immediately knew, from his years of experience, what the issue was with that particular car. He had the trunk opened in less than a minute. He put his hand out for the money and the man said, “I’m not giving you $50.00 for less than a minute’s work!” My friend closed the trunk and came back in to finish his breakfast. The man followed him in and demanded to know why he thought less than a minute of work should be worth $50.00. My friend said he hadn’t put the price on it and it may have been less than a minute of effort but it required years of experience and learning to know how to do it. The man paid his $50.00 and got his things out of the trunk with a quick lesson on how to avoid the problem and how to fix it if it occurred again. A quick fix but a permanent solution.
A company that made a product requiring a substance to be glued to a glass slide had an unacceptable amount of breakage in processing and an unacceptable number of returns because the substance came loose. A few minutes at the wash station, provided the solution. The glass slides, in slots in covered trays, had to be washed to remove any possible contaminants. They had to be rinsed several times to be sure that there was no residue from the wash, which would cause the substance and the glue to come loose. The trays had slots in the sides to allow for action during the rinse. Because the number of rinses specified didn’t always remove all of the soap, the technicians had developed the habit of skewing the lid a little to provide more action. If they didn’t do it, it meant more returns. If they did it, sometimes they lost their grip on the lid and slides would fall out of the tray and break or be chipped. There was no reason for most of the surfaces to be solid. “Hogging out” all six surfaces of the tray and lid provided the needed action with the lid locked on. A quick fix but a permanent solution.
For the Small Business Owner, an Entrepreneur, or a Bootstrapper, the quick fix really can be a life saver – a business life saver. Don’t assume that a quick fix is always just a “bandage.”