Build Systems Not Overhead

Taking on overhead instead of thinking systems can be a money drain.

There’s a lot of good that has come from the old economy. We were able to make stuff at scale. We enjoyed an unprecedented amount of consumption in our lives. Unfortunately, we also adopted a mindset that is a liability in the new economy. We believed bigger meant better.

From warfare to company building, the model of being lean, agile and modular in our approach to winning has become the recipe for success.

Growing a business in many people’s minds means having rows of offices and cubes. It may mean having the latest technologies, lots of people and square footage. This used to be a badge of accomplishment. I think it is a vestige of the old mindset. It is a derivative indicator of well-being. Large overhead equals success.

When Change Happens

I have seen it all too often, however. When change inevitably happens in an industry, the overhead becomes a liability instead of a boasting right. What happens if your orders shrink or the way you sold doesn’t work anymore? If you have a lot of headcount committed to those processes, you have to shed the overhead. It’s painful.

A lot of companies that suffer this cycle don’t blindly rebuild with more square footage or people. I think its a great opportunity to rethink how your business is built for growth. Overhead is not necessarily the answer. It may be comfort food, but it does not likely match to the realities of today’s markets.

The truth is that a person with a laptop is in business. They can compete against many businesses today. So for a few hundred bucks and the willingness to work, there are many micropreneurs that have the tools to get it done.

Thinking Lean

Growth today is about anticipating change and thinking lean. Your ability to maneuver is one of your greatest assets. Instead of blindly adding overhead, add systems. Such systems require thinking it through differently:

  • Cloud systems instead of square footage
  • Talent instead of employees
  • Collaboration instead of meetings
  • Subscriptions instead of sunk costs
  • No IT
  • Automation instead of blind follow-up

It’s a mindset that takes security in substance and thinking rather than pillars. Pillars compensate for insecurities. We like having headcount just in case. We like the shiny new technology to make us feel smarter.

If you think systems rather than overhead, growth can happen faster because you are unencumbered and able to move when opportunities cross your path.

How can this thinking help you? Feel free to comment.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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