The Efficiency of Inefficiency

Sometimes we get a grand vision in our head. We conceive of something we want to do in our business to make things easier. And when we do it? It is gonna be RAD.

Maybe it’s something like an automated upsell system that will get offers in the hands of new customers at pre-defined times after a purchase. That certainly qualifies as rad.

But! Sometimes these things have a number of moving pieces that we haven’t figured out yet.

We need to move to a new shopping cart system, or we need to learn the tech behind our existing system, or we need to make adjustments in our sales pages to integrate some… thing.

But once we’re done – and we understand our shopping cart and get it figured out and all the things are in their right places, then the money’s just going to print itself. Automation FTW.

Again? Rad.

But if there’s a bunch of stuff we have to do before we can make our grand vision work, and we haven’t sorted out how to make each of those things happen, what tends to “happen” is NOTHING.

This is why we have so many amazing ideas… that we never actually DO.

Most of us do not enjoy working harder than we need to. That’s why we want to take the “efficient” route. We want to work smarter, and not harder.

Using an automated upsell system is one of those efficiencies. Building an automated follow-up system for contacts and clients is another. Once we have it all set up, it does a lot of the work for us.

But if you’ve been sitting on an idea for months (or maybe even years), and it’s not looking like you’re going to have time to figure out how to do it in the near future?

Then efficiency means nothing.

  • An automated follow-up system that you thought up 12 months ago but never moved on? That’s accomplished exactly zero follow-up for you in a year.
  • A “1-click upsell” system that you might be able to get to setting up 6 months from now when things settle down? That will give you exactly zero results over the next 6 months.

Perhaps we need a new take on “efficiency”.

Throughout the lifetime of your ittybiz, you will come up with a lot of ideas for how to accomplish things in ways that are faster and easier than what you might call “the slower way”. (They are also a lot cooler.)

When you can act on those, then by all means, go for it.

But when you realize that you just can’t seem to get around to setting up the faster, more efficient way to do things?

When setting up the “efficient” way feels daunting and intimidating?

Then maybe it’s time to do things the inefficient way.

Because “done, but more slowly than I’d like it” is still DONE.

And at the end of the day, “done” is what we’re after.

Sometimes, the inefficient way is the only way I can get certain things done.

I’m a pretty fast typist. In my early days working for temp agencies, I could hit about 100 words a minute. These days it’s about 85 or 90. Still pretty fast. When I’m in the space for it, I can knock out a good-sized blog post in a half-hour or so.

But sometimes I’m not in a good space for it. Sometimes I can’t face the computer screen that day. Sometimes the blank page is giving me vertigo. Sometimes I just hate computers.

On those days, my theoretical typing speed means nothing, because I’m going to be typing 0 words a minute. No blog post for me.

So on days like that, I try dictating into my phone. (I use the crappy one that comes free with Apple Notes because it’s better than the crappier one that comes free with Evernote.) It often takes far longer than typing, especially when you throw in autocorrect and misheard words from the voice recognition goddess. But it’s still faster than 0 words a minute.

On other days, I can’t face dealing with my phone’s dictation software. So I dictate to Kris, who is not exactly a fast typist. I repeat myself a lot. I have to wait until she’s not busy, which takes a while, because she’s busy. But it’s still faster than 0 words per minute.

Are either of those outcomes ideal? Hell, no.

But they get things done when the only available alternative is sweet piss all.

You can get a lot more done if you don’t get hung up on efficiency.

If it looks like it’s going to be a long time before you get that automated follow-up system in place, you can write personal emails or send thank-you notes and birthday greetings manually in the meantime.

Then you’re at least getting more than 0. Is it efficient? No. But it’s effective.

If it looks like there’s a lot involved in getting that upsell system in place, you can do it by hand, emailing offers to clients yourself. Pen and paper, or a hastily cobbled together spreadsheet will work right now.

If it takes you 6 months to get your automated systems in place, doing by hand in the meantime still gets you more than the 0 you would be getting otherwise.

Efficiency is great. I recommend it.

But in lieu of that, inefficiency can be very good for business.


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