Look for posts about business topics and general business concepts that have helped us. One thing we’ve learned is that there’s a lot to learn! This page will include some thoughts on business and things that work for us. The end goal is to provide a place with useful tools to help others. We don’t claim to be business experts, but hopefully some of these will be helpful for you!
The 52: making strides without going crazy
One of the things that i’ve come to realize is that as a business, there’s always a bunch of things that need to get done at any given time. We used to make a huge list and try to organize and prioritize the order of the list, but it ended up getting very intimidating with so much to do and so little time to keep building the product and tackle the list. It was time to try a little different approach and see how it helped things overall. We call it “The 52”
What it is
We started experimenting with the idea of completing at least one task or need a week to improve something about the business. It began each week with the simple question: “What can I improve this week to make the business better NOW?” It seemed so simple, but we started to see some very focused results and small improvements add up to significant changes in efficiency and the bottom line.
Real life Examples
Some of our “52’s” this year have looked like this. They range from very simple to more complex, but they all mean something to the business overall.
- We were having some longer cut times on the laser, so we spent the time re-aligning it to see if that would help. We cut a 50 min job to 20 mins just by spending the time to make sure our machine worked as efficiently as possible. It also meant that those new time savings would mean more product cut and putting off buying a $10,000+ new machine a little longer.
- We have made small purchases like wire strippers to increase our lead cutting efficiency. We added the ability to cut 4-5X the amount in the same time from one week to the next, freeing up more hours to build the product and less prep-cutting wire.
- We ran into an issue with pickups waiting for cleaning an packaging, so we added storage shelves and a place for them to sit before they were ready to ship. Again a small change, but HUGE in terms of clutter and available shelf space.
- We had one station to build all pickup types, and we expanded to having an area dedicated to single coils and one to humbuckers. It helped two people work at once and get more parts specific to each type at the stations.
Here’s some general areas you can look at and find some of your 52 items:
- Whats holding up your product production? Are there any limits you are fighting?
- How can you improve each part of assembly? (More inventory, new ways to build)
- Whats the biggest problem in the shop, and can you address even a portion of it?
- What ways can we improve our exposure, and how can we fit that in the budget (or lack of budget)
- How can we support the people who work for us, even contract or part time people better?
- Try asking them what they would like to see improved in their specific area.
- What are some things that YOU as a business owner can improve on? Maybe it’s better use of your time, focusing on important things and people you work with. Ignoring things that don’t benefit your business and take your eyes off the goals you have.
There’s always more than one thing to get done every week. We like to mix in other things among the 52, but make sure something it happening every week. if you get 4 things done week one, still do at least one the next week. DON’T MISS A WEEK. You’ll be surprised at the results.
There will also be bigger and longer term things to get done like purchasing equipment, expanding, or short term projects. Consider these not a part of the 52, but it’s ok to work on parts of them for your weekly improvements if it’s getting to an end goal that helps your business. The 52 is more about the now, so don’t let the bigger tasks that might take months take away from immediate improvements you can make this week.
We’re not touting some amazing new concept that will change your business forever, but wanted to share something that has really helped us continue to press forward but at a pace that doesn’t seem so overwhelming when you are wearing so many hats as a small business. Each part of the business is crucial so if you’re making consistent improvements your business will greatly benefit from the results.