A Small Business Circuit Board

By Jeff Bowman

If necessity is the mother of invention, then I think I’m onto something! Three times in the past week I have been notified through an electronic circuit panel that I have an issue.  Last Wednesday it was my furnace letting me know through a series of long and short flashes, that I needed to clean the filters.  Saturday, a light on my dashboard let me know with an illuminated picture that my rear hatch was not closed.  Yesterday the display on my hot tub was displaying “FL” which, when I looked it up on the internet means I have a flow issue, usually a pressure switch.  With all the electronic indicators we see these days, why is it we still have to run our businesses using smarts, experience and savvy.

Why hasn’t anyone invented the Business Control Panel, an electronic circuit board that gives us warnings about the things that may be having an impact on our business?  A Business Doppler of sorts.  Send out microwave signals to all the important aspects of our business and then analyze the bounce back frequency to determine where strategic issues may be preparing to rear their ugly heads. Imagine having the ability to get into work each day and have an LED readout telling you information you need to know in order to prevent damage to your business.  It wouldn’t take away the need to be strategically sound in your business, but it certainly would give us early warning signs that we can sometimes overlook or fail to see at all in our businesses today.

Salespeople in particular could make great use of this type of circuitry, directly wired to their briefcase. A quick glance at the display cleverly tucked away under the handle could reveal any number of different error codes which could be preventing them from making the sale. A steady “IO” in Red could mean “information overload”, a flashing “NNI” would indicate “no need identified” or the dreaded “SNV” appearing with small symbols of lightning bolts to indicate the customer “sees no value” in your product or service offering.  Perhaps a sales lag may have nothing to do with your sales presentation, but on the back end from “PCS”, “poor customer service”!

Would these early warning indicators actually make us change the way we approach business, or would we merely hit the snooze button and carry on the way we always have. The fact is that in business today we do have these early warning systems in place. We can gauge our days outstanding or our sales forecasts without having to see a “CIR” message telling us we have ‘cash inflow restrictions”. Sales people can use sound listening skills and basic consultative sales techniques while watching for buying signals or potential objections.  Marketing staff can use social media tools to watch the reaction of the market to any given product or service at any time.  Consumer feedback can provide many of the indicators that your business circuit board would detect, if you really take the time to ask and listen.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, and sometimes we are just too busy with the hectic pace of life and business to really take notice of the small little indicators that forewarn us of impending problems. Pay attention to your gut instincts, use the business tools you know and trust and seek professional advice when you need it.  A simple rewiring of the internal circuit boards we all have.

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