Sometimes it Just Takes One Millimeter Change

If you've recently seen a shift in business and not for the better you can actually change everything with just one small change. Yes, sometimes it just takes a small shift in how you're doing something to suddenly realize major results. How did you find out what the small change can be? Experiment with the little AKA millimeter things. In running a business you really only have a handful of areas that can impact sales:
  • Customer service
  • Marketing and public relations
  • Sales tactics
  • Cash flow
Cash flow seems minor and unrelated. Not true. If you've made sales but cannot collect the money it can greatly hurt business. So what small changes can you make to these areas?
  • Customer service: implement one small change in your customer service policy. You could do something as simple as send thank you cards for each visit. You see it's one simple thing.
  • Marketing and public relations: you could add a mailing list sign-up sheet as part of your client intake process and then launch a newsletter.
  • Sales tactics: you could start relationship building through networking with just one organization.
  • Cash flow: you could add collections into your business model if you don't have any.
None of these ideas are genius per se. It's just being prepared to make one change at a time. Again, you can add that change to your weekly or daily goals. If you don't have weekly or daily goals, then THAT is the area to start and build from.

When Do You Reinvent Your Business Model

In business when do you know it's time to reinvent or change your business model? You don't want to get so out of control that whatever needs to be changed becomes insurmountable and spirals out of control. Some people believe the economy drives business success, and while that is true to some extent, reality is a business owner's ability to change and be flexible to outside is influences is the greater driver of success in any economic environment.

Business leaders must stay one step ahead of potential influences and be ready to shift. Now this gets back to the first question, but when do you know and how do you forge ahead? It's something that you use my millimeter approach for both facets. As a business owner you are aware of the financials (and if you're not then you should be). It's prudent to keep your eyes pealed to small, but long-term shifts in your customers' buying trends. If one area of the business is growing, but another area is shrinking then put your focus on the growth area and continue what you're doing.

In the meantime, look at the area that is shrinking. Ask yourself why? That is the first small step toward either dropping the service and focusing exclusively on your growth area or starting to pull apart what is driving the drop in business and changing it it .... slowly. Again, using my millimeter approach you will want to brainstorm and try small things first. For example, if widget sales dropped, then maybe you need to do small promotions in that area. Don't spend a lot of money on marketing materials, but rather spend a little money and see if that solves the problem. Spend no more than a month trying your new effort and then re-examine the sales. Are they increasing? Keep going. BUT (and this is huge) if the other facet of the business is eclipsing the shrinking sales, it's time to examine it.

And this is where reinvention comes into play. If the increase in sales in the other area continues, you are without trying reinventing in that direction. And that is what automatically changes your business model and keeps your business afloat. And it wasn't a dramatic reinvention either. It was millimeter because you just kept an eye on it and kept doing what you were doing. Any change whether or small or big doesn't have to done dramatically or overnight. It's about flexibility and constant attention to details. And those details drive decisions and decision drive direction and direction drives business models.

How Do You Know When It's Millimeter Time?

Change is tricky. Sometimes you're on the right path. Sometimes the path is getting rocky. How do you know when the right time to make change is necessary? The answer is simple. Are you getting the results you want in business or life? If your results bring you professional and personal satisfaction and at the very least contentment, all is probably fine. If the results you're getting make you feel unsettled and full of angst then change might be necessary. Life isn't all about happiness. We can't be happy all of the time. Contentment though is a very good goal. Here are some good measurements to realize whether or not change might do you some good:
  • Do you meet the day excited or at least pleased to begin anew?
  • Do you look forward to your "what's next" steps?
  • Do you review your business or life and feel remarkable satisfied with your perceptions?
  • Are all facets of your life running pretty smoothly?
  • Do you feel reasonably certain you'll make your goals?
​If you answered "no" to even one of those questions then it's time to implement the "millimeter approach" an​
​d start to move in the direction of total satisfaction. ​

Getting Started with a "Millimeter" Life

If you've been reading my blog then you know I advocate small changes for big results. The "millimeter approach" can be applied to all facets of life and business. Most people think of it as something to use in business, but you can remodel your entire personal life one "millimeter" at a time, too. How so? The first step is to look at your life holistically (every facet). Is there any area you're dissatisfied with and want to change? We'll start with areas you feel dissatisfaction although you may want to improve an area, too, and this formula also applies to improvements.
Let's break life down into smaller categories to help you identify which area(s) you might like to start changing.
  • Family
  • Material Interests (buying or upgrading a house, car, possessions)
  • Relationships (divorce or finding one)
  • Lifestyle (health, exercise, recreation, travel)
  • Appearance (weight gain or loss, style, hair, makeup)
These areas are then broken down further -- that is, if you want to change any of them. If you're contented say in your marriage then relationships might not be something you want to address. Determine which of those areas you need to change. Now the key is next to prioritize. Again, in the "millimeter" approach, we don't try and make big changes by taking big steps. So determine which of the ones you checked off you feel merits the most attention. For example, you're unhappily married but you don't necessarily want a divorce (or maybe you do). In either case (repair or divorce), you will next break that down into smaller, do-able steps to make the change. 

Let's use the example of repair your marriage. Ask yourself, what steps might I take to repair my marriage? For example, improve communication. Good. Now how might you break that down even further? What could you do to improve communication?

1. Turn off distractions (TV, Smart Phones, Computers) more often. Break it down. How many hours will you reduce your TV-watching time, use of your Smart Phone, or time on the computer? Give yourself a daily allotment of hours reduced. 

2. Redirect that time toward your marriage. Tell your spouse, we are agree to only watch X hours of TV, etc. Instead we are going to take those hours and redirect them to interpersonal communication time (e.g., dates to dinner where you can actually talk), walks taken together where you can talk, bike rides where you can talk, etc. The idea is to replace distractions with connected time. 

That single step alone in a marriage can completely alter a relationship dissolving from lack of communication. And that's just the first goal you can make to improve communication. It's a daily, small step toward the end result -- an improved relationship with your spouse. It's not that big or scary when you break it into smaller, simpler tasks.
Hint: this formula only works if you commit to keep your daily, weekly or monthly goals. The minute you slip back into old habits and routines the problems will return.