How to Keep Your Business Flexible

Being move-ready is a desirable trait for every entrepreneur. Consumers change, markets change, and if we want to stay in business, we must change too. Keep your business flexible for long-term success.

We are selling our house and moving. Again. It seems we get the itch to live somewhere new every 10 years or so. We know this about ourselves, so we live as if a new move will occur (even though every time we say, “This is the last one!”). What does it mean to live move ready?

We live within a system that facilitates change. We constantly eliminate items in our lives that are not delivering value any longer. We keep an eye on the markets, to make sure that each move adds to our financial profile and long-term stability. We are always familiar with real estate inventory in markets that are appealing to us. And once we decide to make a move, I pull out the move notebook from the last move, review what worked and what didn’t, and start a new project plan. Being move-ready is a desirable trait for every entrepreneur. Consumers change, markets change, and if we want to stay in business, we must change too. A dear customer of mine called last week and asked, “Is it crazy if I’m thinking about closing one of my stores and investing that money in a robust online offering?”

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No, this idea is not crazy. It is an intelligent shift informed by market behavior and trends. The ability to contemplate a very different business than the one you have now separates long-term success stories from the rest. So, how does a business maintain move-ready status?

Constantly Eliminate Things That No Longer Deliver Value

You wouldn’t believe how many things businesses keep doing that not only fail to deliver value, but actively undermine value. Everything from business policies to employment strategies should be constantly evaluated. Don’t hold onto anything that is irrelevant.

For example: A company with 14 employees switched to a new payroll provider with excellent online time-keeping. The new system could accrue vacation time automatically, based on weeks, days, or hours worked. For just a few hours of work to input the vacation time already earned by each employee, plus

$32 per month for the accrual feature, the owner could let the system take over all the vacation hour management for him. But the owner chose to continue his old process instead. When we looked at how much time he spent managing vacation hours, it was almost shocking. We switched to the new system. Now, every employee can see exactly how many hours of time off they have accrued on every pay stub.

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When we’re moving from one home to the next, we think about the cost of the move in terms of the number of boxes. That gets us motivated to get rid of things. Unsold inventory is a huge drain on any product-selling company. Sell it, melt it, reuse it…just don’t sit on it.

Keep an Eye on the Market

Every successful entrepreneur keeps one ear on the railroad track, listening for the next train. Those trains may sound the same day after day and month after month, but eventually, something sounds different. A train that’s coming faster, that sounds heavier, is indicative of a market that is changing. You want to hear that change long before the train passes through your station.

It’s not enough to read industry magazines. They can be a fantastic resource, but you must do your own listening as well. Pay attention to magazines that serve other industries and other parts of the supply chain. Read broader business magazines. Subscribe to business news feeds.

If you are not subscribing to at least one reliable resource about online marketing, you are missing out on critical information about the future of sales and promotion. And your reading should encompass sources that specialize in your trade, market forces affecting your industry, market forces affecting society at large, and innovation and transformation. Is that a lot of reading? Yep. But that’s the one sure way to keep an eye on the market.

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Pay Attention to What is Available

From new marketing techniques to businesses for sale to new types of consumers, entrepreneurs must be informed about opportunities to sell. The jewelry industry spent too many years complaining about Millennials, when we should have been paying attention to them, understanding them, and then figuring out how to engage them.

When one entrepreneur throws in the towel, it leaves an opportunity for another to pick it up and run with it. One of my clients is looking for the right jewelry stores to buy. She plans to do something quite a bit different with them than regional chains of the past, and she knows it’s a great time to ink a deal with motivated sellers.

Every day I receive at least one call, text, or e-mail from a client asking if there’s a technology tool available to speed up, automate, or replace something they are already doing. Knowing what is available gives you a competitive edge.

Maintain a Notebook

Yes, I keep a move notebook. I now have five of them, and each time, we get better at moving. Keeping track of your successes and failures with formal documentation and reviewing it regularly improves your execution of each new idea.

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I don’t relish the idea of packing all these boxes, moving them, and then unpacking again. But going from move ready to moved is a much easier proposition for us than it is for many folks because we maintain our flexibility all the time. Your business can enjoy that type of flexibility too, if you adopt move ready as your motto.

In association with
The award-winning Journal is published monthly by MJSA, the trade association for professional jewelry makers, designers, and related suppliers. It offers design ideas, fabrication and production techniques, bench tips, business and marketing insights, and trend and technology updates—the information crucial for business success. "More than other publications, MJSA Journal is oriented toward people like me: those trying to earn a living by designing and making jewelry," says Jim Binnion of James Binnion Metal Arts.
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