Recently my bathroom sink was not draining well. I put Drano down the sink and waited 15 minutes. I then ran hot water following the instructions. There was still some grossness right under the stopper that I could not reach. The sink was draining better for now. I then felt the urge to improve the situation. I didn’t know how to remove the stopper so I searched on YouTube.
I gained some confidence from watching a help video on YouTube and removed the stopper. After pulling out the stopper, I noticed a very disgusting sight that needed cleaning immediately. How had I lived so long with this right under my nose? It was making me nauseous. I felt like I needed to wash my hands under scalding hot water for 15 minutes up to my elbows. The bacteria and mold along with hair and who knows what else made this very unpleasant.
Then, I went to another sink and thoroughly cleaned the stopper. I pulled out as much of the disgusting assortment of grossness from the drain. Once everything was clean, I reattached the stopper, cleaned the sink, and admired my handiwork.
The sink drained beautifully and I found myself looking forward to brushing my teeth and using what seemed like a brand new sink.
This experience made me see a very strong parallel to businesses. First of all, many of us just live in the gross situation we are in. We are so used to not knowing our financials and we make gut decisions without any insight because that is what we always have done. We make decisions off the cash in the bank because that is just way it is. We constantly put out fires and work crazy hours to keep the business afloat because we are accustomed to the mess. We don’t think we have time to clean it up.
Once the business gets clogged and sales are down, we are losing money, or we become overwhelmed with stress. Maybe then we might seek help. The problem is that we don’t know how bad it is. Have you heard how things seem to get worse before they get better? Well, this can happen in a business also. This is scary.
When I opened the drain, it was absolutely disgusting. When you open up your business to find out where you truly are today, it might be ugly. You might not have the right employees. Your profit might be worse than you think. Your margins might be much worse than you imagined. You might have made commitments to customers at prices that likely won’t make any money. At least they won’t make you money with the current people and processes you have in place now.
Then you attempt to figure out a way to clean up your business. This can take some time. The problem is that you still need to operate your business. You need to find the time to completely revamp and clean it up. This takes strategy, process documentation, change management, hiring the right talent, and maybe even new IT systems.
Once everything is running more smoothly, you will look back and wonder how you ever lived the way you did. You will be more excited about your business and its growth in the future. You will be more excited about how you can service your customers.
Yes, the sink will get dirty again. You will have to review this regularly as you grow, but you won’t let it get that messed up again. I certainly will keep my bathroom sink draining smoothly from now on.