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Productivity / Processes

How filling my beanbag can help your business

When I grow up, I’m getting a proper sofa. In the meantime, I like to lounge on beanbags. Sit back and relax as I draw a surprising business analogy.

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As beanbag owners know, the little blighters need topping up from time to time. If there’s anything more depressing than sweeping up the tiny balls that leak out during the agonising filling process, I don’t know what it is.

But in my time I’ve learnt a few tricks as to how to optimally perform the tricky operation which I’ve realised can also be applied to business.

It’s all in the preparation. In the case of beanbags, I use the corner of a room and line the area with a plastic sheet to catch stray balls The business parallel here is being prepared for those ‘what if?’ situations. If your business hits a rough patch, how easy is it for you to recover? If you lost all your data, what would you do? Don’t wait for a mess all over the floor. Plan ahead.

Take control. Cut a small hole and start pouring… very slowly. In the early days of business, it’s best to travel slowly until you’ve adequately researched your market and fully tested your processes.

"In the early days of business, it’s best to travel slowly until you’ve adequately researched your market and fully tested your processes."

Know when to speed up. In the case of my beanbag, once I’m comfortable my balls aren’t spilling everywhere, I’ll make the holes bigger and pour faster. Once you’re happy all is going well in your business, you can put the pedal to the metal.

Want more articles like this? Check out the processes section.

Don’t worry about small spills. Stuff ups en route are inevitable. When things don’t go smoothly, sure you could slow down a bit to minimise damage, but don’t give up. Provided the basics are mostly working, keep moving forwards.

Review and learn. Once my refill bag is empty, I’ll fold up the plastic sheet and funnel the loose balls into the beanbag. Tidying up after a business project involves looking at anything that slipped through. Are process improvements needed? Were the basics sound? What will you do differently next time?

Directing learnings back in to your business is the best way to improve.  Anthony Robbins said: “Success in life is the result of good judgment. Good judgment is usually the result of experience. Experience is usually the result of bad judgment.”

I’ll wager that Tony is a beanbag kind of guy. I wonder what top-up method he uses?

What’s your favourite business analogy? Spill the beans here.

Sam Leader

is a former director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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