Are You Doing Things Right or Doing the Right Things?

Peter Drucker, famous management consultant, has been quoted as saying “Efficiency is doing things right, effectiveness is doing the right things.”

Doing things right is what small business owners often aspire to, learning from others who have been there before them, and certain that when they ‘get it right’, then their business will take off.

But what happens when you do things right and you still don’t get the results? It is very easy then to become completely demoralized.

Tracey, owner of a hairdressing salon, had been feeling very down with her business. It was going OK, but she felt that from the amount of time and money she had spent on learning various marketing and selling techniques, her return on her investment should have been much greater. She was beginning to get fed up with the so-called experts who told her that if she just did exactly what they had done, she would get the same results as they had. Having diligently done that, some things did improve. She could see the logic in their suggestions, but she had not been as successful as she had been led to believe would happen. Difficult.

When she came to me it was not for this reason however. She had wanted to explore whether her mental attitudes were somehow to blame for the results she was getting. We began by looking at this, and sure enough, there was room for improvement. But it was when she realized that it was her very focus on ‘doing things right’ that was causing the problem, that she had her light bulb moment. What she had been taught about doing things right had meant that she had lost her focus on what was most important in her business.

With the refocus on effectiveness, and ‘doing the right things’, Tracey’s face lit up. She suddenly saw space where before there had only been clutter; she saw meaning where there had been pointlessness; and she saw clarity where there had been confusion.

Her ‘aha’ moment came when she realized the difference between carrying out other people’s ideas of things that needed to be done in her business, and filtering those ideas through her own specialized knowledge of her business and customers.

In your business, you do not need to do things right. Yes, there is always going to be some information you can learn and will be useful. But it will only be useful if you take what works for you in the context of your own business. Then you begin to ‘do the right things’ – ie do the things that your business needs in the right way for you and your customers.

For instance, Tracey really wanted to provide a very personal service to her clients, so that they wanted to come to her salon, even if their favourite stylist was no longer going to be there. This is a challenge for many service businesses – how to keep the clients coming back to you and not the particular person that is serving you.

She understood that to do this a very personal service was required. She had been told that she had to keep in touch with her customers more regularly, and provide them with all kinds of opportunities to spend more money. But the way she had been told to do it had not entirely resonated with her, and when she put in place these marketing strategies it was with a half-hearted attitude and not very much confidence. Hence her idea that it was her mental beliefs that were at the bottom of her business not growing.

When she realized she had to take the essence of what was being suggested to her regarding marketing, instead of the form, her imagination was let loose. She found ways to tend and nurture her clients that meant they were coming for the whole salon experience, and not just a haircut.

So, how effective are you being in your business? Are you doing things right? Or doing the right things – for you and your customers? It’s easy to get muddled up with these two ideas, although there is such a different result depending on what you focus on. Thus perhaps a more pertinent quote is that of St Teresa of Avila:

“It is not a matter of thinking a great deal but of loving a great deal, so do what arouses you most to love.”

When you learn about marketing, and combine it with what arouses you most to love, then your customers will respond. They can’t help but do so, for you will have reached out to them from your heart, in a way which makes it easy for them to respond to you, and also in way that works for both you and for them. How do you combine your marketing with what arouses you most to love?

2 thoughts on “Are You Doing Things Right or Doing the Right Things?

  1. As usual Jane, you’ve hit the right spot. Today I’ve been ‘thinking’ about my business – I’ve not been in a happy place for some time so today I decided to write down what I love doing, and have made some decisions about my future path. So when I read this article , thinking marketing isn’t what I’m focusing on right now but nevertheless I always find something interesting or inspirational in what you write and there it was staring at me – the quote from St Teresa of Avila, it just leapt out at me and I now know the new path I am heading down is the right one for me. Thank you as always and wishing you peace and happiness. Sally

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