In a challenging economic cycle, many of the most brilliant and capable professionals are anything but successful — some even end up having serious financial problems.
It’s not that they don’t work hard. In many cases they work too hard. The problem is they fail to manage the fruits of their labors effectively and let their profits slip away.
One of the real challenges of running a business is to make sure that you end each year with profits, earnings, and savings.
So, how can you manage your business to keep more of what you take in, and keep building a larger and larger equity? By watching both the macro and the micro dimensions of all transactions.
Watching the macro dimension has to do with managing the big picture of your career. It includes such activities as:
Staying in touch with your career vision and long term goals.
Monitoring your overall progress to make sure you are achieving your objectives in all areas.
Managing your client load and workflow.
And executing your integrated marketing strategies.
Watching the micro dimension means keeping a close watch on all the thousands of details that go into operating a busy and productive business. Managing the micro includes such things as:
Making sure each staff person is working both efficiently and effectively.
Controlling costly wastes of supplies and inventory.
Checking minute details like postage meter readings, packaging of shipments to clients, and the way phone calls are handled.
As one of my clients says, “Managing the micro is not just expecting performance from everyone in your organization; it’s inspecting to see that you get the performance you expect.”
Some professionals are strong in watching the big picture. They love to quote Ben Franklin saying, “Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.” In other words, don’t get so caught up in the details that you lose sight of the big picture.
Others manage the micro very well. They believe that if you watch the details, the big picture will take care of itself. They also like to quote Ben Franklin — especially his famous statement, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
Neither of those approaches is adequate to meet the management needs of true professionals in today’s volatile marketplace. Success comes from constantly watching both dimensions — the big picture and all the details. Let me illustrate how crucial this dual focus is by sharing a couple of stories my clients have told me.
One of our corporate clients, a large home furnishings manufacturer, once introduced an exciting new furniture line, in a style that had been taking the market by storm. Every detail had been worked out to assure that the design and pricing were right, and that production was ready to go.
They had planned to announce the new line with great fanfare at an upcoming international show. There was only one thing wrong — nobody had bothered to research the market. The new offering fell flat on its face because it was designed for a trend that was quickly dying.
They had been so caught up in the details of preparing the products and promotion that they’d overlooked a major consideration — whether or not anybody would buy it. They had managed the micro dimension, but not the macro.
Another client, a consulting executive, had carefully put together a very expensive direct mail campaign to promote a new round of seminars she was planning to conduct. She had carefully researched her market, she’d created a magnificent mailing packet, and gone first class in her presentation.
There was only one problem. The day after all the mail pieces had gone out, one of her staff noticed that the response cards containing the prices, dates, and locations of the seminars had been left out. And, since it was the only place she had listed her return address and phone number, her expensive mailing was useless.
According to her own estimates, that one micro-slip-up had cost her thousands of dollars in wasted mailers and postage. But, even worse, by the time she could reprint and distribute the mailer, she had missed many paying clients who would have responded if they’d only known how to get in touch with her. She had covered the macro, but had not checked up on a very important detail.
To be really successful, it’s crucial to manage both the big picture and the minute details with equal care.”
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