Abraham Lincoln has been credited with the following quote: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Regardless of the context, the premise holds true, especially in business. To a business owner, the tool isn’t an axe but can include technology, people, capital, knowledge, experience, and yes… actual tools. I find that many of my clients have very valuable tools at their disposal, but they often aren’t as sharp as they should be or they aren’t being used correctly. Based on my experience providing bookkeeping services for small businesses, I’ve seen three ways that tools are being underutilized. Here’s what they are and how to avoid it.
1. Even the Greatest Hammer Won’t Cut Down a Tree
You’ve got to put your tools to the right use, otherwise they’re useless. I often see this kind of misallocation when it comes to a company’s people. Your team is your most valuable asset. Take the time to hire the right people for each job, and make sure your employees are given the freedom to focus on their areas of expertise. Don’t slough off the bookkeeping services onto the office manager, for example. When each task is handled by someone competent, trained and enthusiastic – morale and efficiency skyrocket.
2. You Don’t Know Which Axe to Buy
Sometimes our tools are software solutions or outsourced firms that provide us with payroll or bookkeeping services. These kinds of services can be a boon to your business, bringing it valuable outsider experience and great new technologies. But you won’t get to benefit if you don’t know what you’re looking for. As a provider of bookkeeping services, I often see clients struggle to decide between QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop. They also may be overwhelmed in the search for the right Payroll Services Firm. Because of this, it becomes incredibly important to become an informed buyer. Read reviews online, speak to other business owners about their choices, and call in your trusted advisors, be they your bookkeeping services team, your grandma, or any other consultant you confer with.
3. Your Axe Isn’t Sharp
This is the issue Honest Abe was focused on, and I think it’s especially important to consider here. How do we make sure our axe is sharp in business? Well, first off one needs to realize that there’s more than one axe that needs sharpening. To succeed in your business means putting in consistent effort, and not growing complacent. Evolve your training processes as your business grows. Help your employees grow and develop within the organization. Review how operations are carried out and ask yourself if something needs to be updated. And remember that your most valuable tool is yourself -so keep yourself sharp!