In Jim Collins book, From Good to Great he spends a great deal of time discussing the bus metaphor. He claims that you need to figure out who the right people are (great employees) and get them on the bus (in the company), then you need to get the wrong people (bad employees) off the bus. Then, and only then can you figure out where your company....uh, er bus is actually going.
This concept has resonated with me since I read his book almost a year ago. Let me tell you friend, it is a painful bus trip to take....with the wrong people on it. I feel that 'Ya we got the right people on the bus', we have the right people in our corner, we know what we have to do, we know how to do it.....the bus is even driving itself. Last year we had a staff meeting with our big announcement about a HUGE partner and the possible work load increase...one of our artists literally quit the next day. She could not even imagine the work load increase, and good for her for recognizing that. The rest of us looked around at each other, smiled and said, 'cool'.
If you are looking at your business and trying to figure out any of the following:
- What shall I make next?
- What are my competitors doing? I should do that!
- What other products can I sell?
- How can I expand my product line immediately?
- How can I market my own products?
- What is the next big thing? How can I do that?
- How do I mass- produce my products?
- What will I do if my work load increases 20% 50% or even 100%?
- Who is on my bus?
- Bus? What bus? It is just me ON THE BUS!
These are all very goodquestions, however you better know the answers to these questions. These are questions you need answered before you jump into another line of products, another big change in your company. You need to figure how to do what you do first, before doing something else. I am a big proponent of processes, and doing things the same way,The E-Myth taught me this. No surprises, no changes, we do what we do, and then we do it again, and again, and again. Michael Gerber writes about this so well, it is so simple yet so complex. He thinks businesses should all take a note from McDonald's....you always know what you are going to get - same bad food every time.
Don't get me wrong we are not perfect, we have tweaks, we have changes. And if you are the only one on your bus, no investors, no support, but you can handle the increased work load - well then good for you. That expression, careful what you wish for....is so true - be prepared for what can and will happen when you keep adding products/themes/sales channels to your company's bottom line.
If our orders increase by 20% or 50% or 100% we can handle the increased work load. I have the employees, I have the warehouse space and I have the processes in place ALREADY to take that on. I say this from experience, I have been where the orders increase, and you scramble to make them, and you scramble more, and you hire more people, and have meetings, and work nights, and then work weekends...it is another ....band aid.
Now I am not standing here pounding myself on the chest, gloating about my accomplishments. We have grown, we have grown steady...but we are not even on the tip of the iceberg of sales channels. I would like to be everywhere...in all stores all over the country, the world....cue evil laugh (kidding) - however, we had to fix the problems we had and work through them...and we had to find the most efficient way of doing things BEFORE explosive growth.
We changed things, we dropped things, we altered our original product. If you were to take our original Name Tile and hold it up against the one today there are LOTS of differences....hmmm, future blog? Change is good, it is sometimes necessary... A product that is made by one person, hand painted in her garage vs. one that is manufactured, it has evolved, it has matured so to speak.
You will know when the right people are on the bus, and when they are on the bus then, and only then can you figure out where the bus is going. I may have stalled a bit, been a bit, oh distracted, but don't second guess my intentions, I know where this bus is going. We will be riding this bus for a long, long time....