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In the early days of your business, when you put your first terms and conditions together, you probably did what I did, which was jump on the website of a competitor; copy theirs, change a few bits and bobs; borrow here, steal there, beg there, and generally speaking keep costs as low as possible.
It's a very sensible strategy in a lot of ways… in the early days.
But what happens is, as most businesses start to mature, they never really get out of this mentality. What you often find is when people or businesses have stagnant growth, what lies the heart of it is the poor-man/woman's mentality of the people at the top. People who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
Perhaps the most poignant example of this right now is mis-hires. The number of SME owners I know who are struggling to make their business go the way they want it to go, and yet they're paying under the market rate - or perhaps just matching the market rate - and then getting really annoyed that they don't have fantastic staff.
The fact is, most SME owners learn 'by hook or by crook' how to employ the right people. Even after a number of years, their most intensive employment process might involve maybe three interviews. The longest and most detailed hiring processes I've seen from an SME owner, took all of four hours of contact time over three interviews and a series of psychometric tests.
If you've read Daniel Kahneman's 'Thinking Fast and Slow' then you'll know that you can actually tell quite a lot, but most people aren't really tuned in at that kind of a level. So you end up hiring staff, and they come in and they do ‘okay’ over a number of years... But eventually they leave or you get rid of them because they were never doing 'fantastically'. And you really wanted 'fantastic', even while you only ever paid 'okay'.
I’m not saying it's about just throwing money at the problem. But what it is about is spending money wisely; focusing on value, not cost.
You get a quote from a new lawyer, or a new accounting practice and you know someone spent hours crafting a lovely proposal with all the various elements of service. But what do most of us jump straight to? How much it will cost. We rarely really listen and challenge what value it's bringing. And what you'll often find - certainly what anybody who's ever really, really needed a lawyer discovers - is that if you spend a bit more money in the first place, it really does pay dividends when the sh*t hits the fan.
Again, I'm not advocating throwing money at the problem. But what I want you to recognise is when you buy cheap, more often than not you will end up buying twice. And in the long run, that may well end up costing you a lot more money.
So whenever you're in buying mode for your business, whether it's hiring a member of staff to come and work for you or a lawyer to come and do some contracts in your business, your only conversation with that individual should be about the value this person's going to bring.
Because times like these do create opportunity.