The Importance of Speed
[Video version included at the bottom of this page]
I love this podcast today. It talks about speed, the importance of speed and I ain’t talking about the accelerator pedal in your truck. I’m talking about the speed at which you operate your business and the people within your business are free and empowered to operate.
We cover just a couple of things. Number one, I do not believe that speed kills your business. In fact, I think speed might save your business if it’s done properly without chaos. Number two, you need to understand that people move at the speed of their comfort level. That’s just human nature.
But if you understand it and you can work around that, you need to know that people have to get uncomfortable to incorporate speed. And the third piece is just, well, I give four, really five with a bonus tip. And number four is this 90/10 rule. If you can operate your business at 90% accuracy, you can live. The entire organization can live with 10% worth of mistakes.
Speed matters. It will not kill your business. And by the way, just so everybody’s clear on it and we talk about it when the podcast starts, I’m not talking about going down the road at 90 miles an hour in the big rig, I’m talking about speed within your organization. It will not kill the organization. Hey, do us a favor, like this podcast, share it, tell your friends about it, offer us comments, post it if you like it enough, post it in your LinkedIn page or on your social media page so other people can learn about it, too.
Speed does not kill. Let me repeat. Speed does not kill.
Now, we all know this podcast is for the transportation industry and we all know that in the transportation industry, driving a truck down the road too fast does have the option to kill. But that’s not the speed I’m talking about. We know that safety matters, checkbox, right? Everybody understands, no need for hate.
What I am telling you is speed within your business is not going to kill your business because your business is running too damn slow. Here’s a tweet that I tweeted out this morning. It said, “People move at the speed of their comfort. Rarely is that fast enough to move the needle.” It’s true. Things take too damn long in your company and it’s dangerous, so let’s get into it.
Let me tell you exactly what I mean when I’m talking about speed and why speed won’t kill your business. Everything takes too damn long for the entrepreneur. That’s a definite because the entrepreneur feels the pressure that other people don’t feel. They feel the pressure of payroll. They feel the pressure of no money, they feel the pressure of the early days, they feel the pressure of survival and you can’t get away from it.
So the way the entrepreneurs, successful entrepreneurs, I mean, listen, there’s a lot of people who call themselves entrepreneurs who never felt that pressure and their businesses didn’t make it. I’m talking about the guys that made it, the ones that succeeded. They moved with speed, speed to collect the damn check, speed to send out the invoice, speed to get paid, speed to race to the bank to deposit the check to cover payroll. And it’s hard to get away from that mindset. And if that mindset isn’t evolved and matured, it can destroy your business.
But let me give you the other side of it. The other side of it is the business is mature and you ain’t racing to send invoices anymore and you ain’t even racing to collect invoices anymore. And you’re not even worried about payroll. And that’s when everybody falls into their comfort zone. And their comfort zone is what begins to dictate the speed of the organization.
And going back to the tweet, most people’s comfort zone is not powerful, fast enough to move the needle. So let me give you a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Your salesperson quotes a deal, a piece of business you guys want. And the salesperson has absolutely no idea what the customer’s timeframe is, right? Salesperson’s just doing his job or her job. They quote the transaction, it goes over to the customer and the salesperson falls back into their comfort zone. Not the customer’s comfort zone of when the customer might want to make this decision and close this deal and do this deal or make this purchase. But the sales person’s comfort zone.
And guess what? They call that customer back three, four days later. And you know how it goes, right? “Hey, just calling to follow up. Just calling to see how things are going.” And the customer says, “Oh yeah, Hey, Joe Schmo sales guy. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I did get your quote, but we already made a decision. We’ve gone someplace else.” And you know what your sales Joe Schmo sales guy says who works for you? “Will you keep me in mind on the next one? Sorry, we missed this one. Hopefully we can do the next one for you.”
And the customer doesn’t even … It goes in one ear and out the other. He hangs up the phone and goes on to doing a business fast. Your sales guy got beat again. And so did you. Why? Because he operated at his speed of his comfort and not at the speed of the organization or certainly not the speed at the customer’s organization.
Tell me that has happened to you. And if it’s not in your sales department, what if it’s in your accounting department? Have you ever seen your aging report start to expand and you start to say to yourself, “Wait a second here, man. We used to get paid in 10 days from these customers and now all of a sudden that I’m not doing the books and Bobby’s doing the books, we’re not getting paid for 45 days. It’s the same customer who used to pay me in 10 and now they’re paying the organization / Bobby who’s in charge of that department in 45 days. What’s going on over there?”
Well, maybe Bobby didn’t send out the invoice as fast as you did or maybe Bobby didn’t do the followup phone call to check on that invoice and when you’re all getting paid? Or maybe Bobby missed it all together and maybe, as I’ve seen hundreds of times when an aging report starts to creep out, 15, 30 days, 45 days, 60 days, maybe the customer that you’re still doing business with is in bad shape and you don’t see it and Bobby don’t see it and Bobby didn’t bring it to your attention. And 60 days or 90 days out that customer files bankruptcy and you get kicked in the nuts for 250,000 that you thought was coming in that you already paid out, driver’s been paid out on it, your fuel’s been paid out, your per diem’s has been paid out of it.
The 250,000 that you had on your balance sheet as an accounts receivable and you were working your numbers that said that 250 is going to hit my retained earnings and I’m going to be in good shape doesn’t come in. Why? Because you move too damn slow on your invoices and your receivables. Why? Because somebody else is doing it for you now.
You have to build a culture in which speed matters and speed counts because businesses live or die by speed. The faster the better and fast does not have to equal chaotic. I just mean fast. If given the choice, I will take fast over slow in business 100% of the time. Why? Because I know that we can live by a 90/10 rule and you need to live by a 90/10 rule, and I’m going to go into little more detail in a minute.
If you can live with 90% of the things your business does right, you can live with the 10% that you do wrong. It ain’t going to be 100% and businesses that fail are 20% right and 80% wrong. Happens a lot with startups. They just don’t know what the hell they’re doing. Where it starts to get a little crazy is when it starts to get 50/50 right? We’re doing 50% of it right and 50% of it wrong. That’s still a problem. I don’t think you can go much lower than say 85/15 before the market just bitch slaps you. But I think a 90/10 is doable and livable.
If you can do 90% of your stuff right and fast, you can live with the 10% that you’re doing wrong. The question you should be asking right now is, or let me rephrase the statement you should be making is, “Damn, this Manero guy is right. That’s not starting to happening in our business, man, we got a pretty good business. I’m not in survival mode anymore. We got 20 trucks, 30 trucks, a 100 trucks, 200 trucks, hell, even five trucks and we’re doing our height now, but I do kind of feel like it moves a little slow. So how do I change it and re-install speed into the organization?”
And I have four tips plus a bonus for you. Let’s do them. Number one, only hire people who are comfortable being uncomfortable. You have to ask this question in the hiring process. When was the last time you did something in your life or your career that made you very uncomfortable? And then ask them to explain it. And here’s what you’re going to get. If they say, “Oh wow, you know, I hung the Christmas lights on my house this year.” You might want to pass on that guy.
Or if they say, “I took a company that was losing money and they had a million in revenue and 24 months later, I turned them into a $4 million profitable company.” You might want to bust out the checkbook and hire that person. You need people who are comfortable being uncomfortable because if left to their own druthers, most people will operate in comfort and comfort is often not speed.
Number two, outsource more to companies who can get the job done faster. A perfect example is a company that I consistently consult with. They’re called One Day Web Build. Now, they have built their entire business as a digital marketing agency until my buddy, Judge Graham and I, Judge and I do these business boot camps called Burn The Ships.
You can learn more at burntheships.com if you want to know what they’re all about. And this company came to it as a struggling digital marketing agency. And we said, “You guys need to change your product offering. You need to offer a one day web build.” They didn’t even understand what we were talking about.
And we said, “You need to build customers’ websites in one day, soup to nuts and you need to charge a lot of money for it.” They started to do it. In fact, we started to refer business from our Burn The Ships business bootcamp to these guys and they were as busy as they can possibly be. They take a website from soup to nuts. I’m talking about copywriting, I’m talking about pictures, I’m talking about video that they shoot, edit, upload, coloring, images, testimonials, everything you need for a website rebuild. And they do it in 24 hours and they charge you 7,000 bucks to do it.
Now, you might be like, “Oh man, 7,000 I just did mine on Wix and it didn’t cost me anything.” That’s my point. You shouldn’t be doing those things on Wix because everybody in the marketplace knows you did it on Wix. Hell, it says Wix at the bottom. Anybody who knows, it says Wix isn’t all that impressive. You need to outsource to people who can get shit done fast and if you’ve got to pay a little bit more for it, so what?
Let me tell you some, you probably burned 7,000 worth of your time on Wix doing it yourself, staying up late, making mistakes, not knowing how to size it properly, uploading the wrong pictures. You start taking pictures on your iPhone. You started using phony B roll pictures from Google images. I’m talking about these guys do it from soup to nuts and I ain’t even pushing them to you. I’m just telling you to outsource to people who can get stuff done fast, even if it costs you a little bit extra money.
Number three. This is vital to removing chaos from the speed argument. I argue for speed. I’m not arguing for chaos. There’s a big difference there. You have to set the expectation and the ETC, the estimated time of completion. You have to take time to meet with everybody who’s on this project. Whatever it is that you need, speed that you want to work on, whatever that is, you’ve got to meet everybody, talk to them all.
I don’t care if you take a day, if you take two days, I don’t care if you take two months to scope out the project. Make sure everyone who has skin in the game is in the game, they’ve been talked to, they’ve explained their concerns, the pros, the cons, everything. And then when everybody’s in agreement and the marching is about to start, set the ETC, the estimated time of completion. When will we have it done? That’s the question you need to ask and when that question is answered with 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, tomorrow, today, whatever that is, everybody has to stick to it because when someone misses the ETC, they let the team down when you’re operating under a team.
Listen, if you’re just taking this message for yourself today, awesome. Just set ETCs and don’t let yourself down. But if you need people, if you’ve got management teams, if you got staff, if you got departments and everybody needs to be bought into it, get everybody’s feedback, make the decision, set the ETC and then stick to it.
Number four, don’t make or accept any excuses. If the project is meaningful and beneficial to the organization and it’s well thought out and an ETC has been set, be relentless to the ETC. Accept nor make excuses period, end of story. The team is climbing the hill and we’re going to get to the top on this date.
And here’s number five, the bonus tip, which is what I talked about a little bit earlier. A little bit more detail on this 90/10 rule. If you can operate your business making 90% of your decisions right, you can live with the 10% that you make wrong. Now, here’s why this is so important because if you have great people in your organization, some of them are going to be perfectionists. They’re going to feel like failures if they don’t do it perfect, and that is not a bad thing.
If you introduce the 90/10 rule, it gives them a breather, a relief, a sigh that says, “Okay, I don’t have to be perfect in this organization. I just got to be pretty damn close to perfect, 90% perfect. And the organization has said they’re going to live with the 10% that I do wrong.” And that means you can’t be an asshole when they do do something for the 10% wrong. You just have to say, “Hey, that’s what we’re doing.”
Now, you could be a little firm if they’re 50% wrong and you can fire their butt if they’re 80% wrong, but if you have a 90/10 rule, your perfectionist will calm down and they’ll say, “I don’t have to operate at 100%.” There’s tremendous pressure on perfectionists. You guys need to understand that. It’s something I didn’t understand for all these years.
There are people, great people in your organization who require that they do things perfectly, and that in itself is a huge burden. So offer up the 90/10 rule. It calms everybody down and allows the perfectionist to make some mistakes and not get their ass chewed by you.
So listen, make the call now. Go see the customer now. Make the decision now. Speed makes you more money. Speed beats the competition. Speed keeps you ahead of the rest. And speed does not kill your company, but I promise you lack of speed can. We’ll see you all down the road.