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[Book Excerpt] Live Free or DIY: How to get more customers, increase profits, and achieve
I’ve been getting requests recently from various publications for permission to post an excerpt from my international bestselling book Live Free or DIY. So I thought my friends on LinkedIn might appreciate a peek of their own. Below is an excerpt from Chapter 11.
About the Book
Live Free or DIY is the
Excerpt from Chapter 11: How to Double Your Profits by Making a Simple Tweak to Your Workflow
““The invisibility of work and workers in the Digital Age is as consequential as the rise of the assembly line.”” — George Packer, American Journalist
Do you know what is the
That they can’t find good people.
It is hard to find good staff; at least, it’s hard if you need to trust them with a ton of complex work and you’re not able to pay them a whole lot for all that responsibility.
As it turns out, Henry Ford had the same problem. Apparently, it was pretty difficult — maybe even downright impossible — to find a craftsman who could build an automobile from scratch, never mind the fact that Ford couldn’t offer much pay if he was going to make cars that were affordable for the everyday consumer while also keeping his operation in the black.
That’s precisely when he had his big idea, and the assembly line was born. He realized it wasn’t difficult to find good people who could put together component parts as one step in an assembly line that they didn’t even have to fully understand, much less, fully execute. Ford’s solution was a creative new way of using labor while also harnessing available technology.
And that’s exactly what we’re doing in this chapter. Just the way the last chapter applied the wisdom of the first Industrial Revolution to automate what used to be done by hand, we’re now going to combine the wisdom of the assembly line with
Am I saying you should run your business like an assembly line? Actually, yes— though you’ll see, over the course of this chapter, that it doesn’t mean turning your staff into a team of mindless drones. It’s the opposite, actually. Thanks to technology, your team shouldn’t really be doing any mindless labor. What should they be doing instead? Helping to grow your business in ways that are specific to their skill sets and your needs. We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, we’re going to explore how technology makes it all possible.
The new value chain changes everything.
It used to be that big businesses had a considerable advantage over smaller competitors thanks to their enormous staff. So many employees allowed for very focused specialization — each employee had his or her tiny domain — which was far more efficient than having employees do a little bit of everything. And that efficiency translated into a big advantage.
If that sounds a lot like an assembly line, it’s because the fundamental idea is the same. In today’s parlance, this is the concept of breaking up the value chain — that is, relying on increasingly focused specialists to do very specific tasks, and then putting their work together to yield a less expensive finished product. In the past, only big businesses were able to break up the value chain, because a big staff was a basic ingredient. A small enterprise could never afford it, nor would they have enough specialized work to occupy a full- or even
Technology means you’re no longer limited to the confines of your office building, and you no longer need job descriptions substantive enough to justify a commute. These revolutionary changes give you untold flexibility in how to design your workforce and workflow. And I’m not just talking about how
I’m talking about what I call the “commoditization of boring.”
Entrepreneurs around the world have examined business processes with a
The last chapter introduced you to a variety of such companies. I’ve already mentioned how Ruby Receptionists can handle your phone calls. Meanwhile, the company Bench.co can do your bookkeeping, and Zirtual will provide you with an
But how about short yet important tasks like sprucing up your website or writing copy for a brochure? Sites like Upwork instantly connect you to a pool of tens of thousands of freelancers who perform very specific services — Web design and development, writing, and much more — while also allowing you to see how other business owners have rated their past work.
This directly addresses the
In other words, there’s nothing holding you back from creating a workflow that’s every bit as intelligent and efficient as one at a Fortune 500 company (or even better). You have a digital universe of affordable human and technological resources at your fingertips.
Making your business competitive in today’s marketplace means capitalizing on all those resources, and doing that means scrutinizing every link in the value chain of your business down to its smallest component parts. You can then determine the best way to execute each task, and thus design the most efficient workflow, just like Ford did.
For Ford, that meant breaking up every task between designing at the drawing board and putting rubber on the road. For a neighborhood pizza shop, the process of breaking up the value chain might look entirely different, though the underlying wisdom is the same. And when I founded my international shipping company several years ago, I used the same logic in order to dissect the traditional job of a vessel planner. I saw the standard job description in our industry had experts spending a lot of time sending