When I was younger, my mum and I used to do jigsaw puzzles in the school holidays – you know the ones – thousands of pieces, where half of them are all the same shade of blue sky or green grass and over weeks, you piece together a few more until the final picture is revealed.
Business is not that different.
There are so many parts to put together… so many of those parts that actually look like they fit… they just don’t quite… Unlike boxed puzzles that you buy in the hobby shops, it’s often hard to get such a crystal-clear picture of your business, like you get on a puzzle box, to guide how you put it all together. And unlike the puzzles I used to do with my mum, there’s consequences if you settle for a ‘near-enough’ fit rather than a perfect fit – missed opportunities, lost sales, ineffective marketing and often just a feeling of things not quite working.
So how do you pull together your unique jigsaw puzzle?
- Recognise there are universal pieces to a business puzzle – a bit like placing the the corners and edge pieces first in a 2,500 piece picture puzzle. For example, each business needs to have a strong marketing framework, a profitable business model, an informative scoreboard and financial management system and effective and efficient process – they create the ‘edges’ of your business puzzle… how you colour it in will be different for each individual business.
- Understand that even though all the pieces may look the same (e.g., I often found it hard to distinguish between the shades of blue in the sky), there are always subtle differences between each piece. Don’t try and take pieces from your friends’ or competitors’ business puzzles… they might look like they’re a fit… but they won’t be a perfect fit.
- Recognise that not only is your business jigsaw not a static picture on a box, but a 3-dimensional inter-related system of pieces – a bit like cogs and wheels in a Swiss-watch. The pieces of your puzzle need to not only fit, but they need to inter-relate, integrate and synergise with each other to produce the lifestyle returns you went into business for.
- Accept that sometimes the final picture will change before you’ve got all the pieces in place, so you need to be flexible in finding new pieces that complete the picture; the edges and the frameworks are likely to remain constant.
- Remember, like jigsaw puzzles, building a business takes patience. Forcing a ‘fit’ might give you immediate gratification, but it will make the picture look weird in the end… so just keep moving pieces around until they all fit perfectly.
What do you think?
Does running your business feel like piecing together a giant jigsaw puzzle? Do you take the time to get the right pieces or are there a few ‘forced fits’ making an awkward picture?