Better with Less

Budget Crunch

As we all finalize our 2009 plans, amidst all the uncertainty, one thing is clear — we are not getting more money!

I have led several turn-arounds in my career, so dealing with a smaller budget is something I am pretty practiced in.

I have found and used techniques to preserve quality and motivation through some pretty serious cuts.

One key approach I have found very helpful in getting through the downturn is to focus on the things you did last year, and think of ways to do them better.

BETTER does not always mean MORE

If you challenge yourself to think through how you can improve the way you do something, you can often find a way to get a better result with the same or even less effort and resource.

This is not the tired “Do More with Less”, mantra that makes everyone including me cringe.  “More with Less” means more work is being piled on.  This is demotivating and seldom works well.

Think about it instead as doing LESS work, but doing it in a BETTER way so it has a bigger result.

Examples of Better with Less

If you spend $1000 on demand generation and it gets you 100 leads, there is a tendency to think that if you want to get 200 leads you need to spend $2000.

When you apply the “better with less” thinking, think about all the things you can do to get 200 leads without spending more money on the same program.  Make program better:  Make the offer better, make the call to action better, make the landing page better, make the follow-up better, make the product better!

If you are supporting a product and you need to support more customers next year, how can you do it better without adding more people?  Maybe make your online interface more useful and clear, or add a community where users can support each-other.

If you need to sell more, improve the value proposition in each deal to get more profit without more work. Or take steps out of the closing process by creating better sales tools, or getting better references.

We all do stupid stuff.  Find it and do better.

When you start a new job, you almost always see ways that the last guy was wasting time and resources and not being effective as you can be.

So step into your job anew, and find all the stupid stuff you are doing, and improve it.

This is a great exercise to do with your team.  Go through your key programs and brainstorm on the stupid stuff you should stop doing, and how you can improve to deliver a better result with less work or less money.

You’ll be surprised with how many ideas you come up with.

This also makes room to add some of the new stuff everyone was looking forward to, which is great for the motivation of the team, and the business.

As a leader it is important to cut the cost of doing the same stuff over and over again so that you can make room for new stuff even if you don’t get more money.   Really, it’s important to do this even if you do get more money.

This is increasing your value to the company as well.  Which is a topic for another day…

Related resources:
Leading vs. Managing: Podcast
Leading vs. Managing: Presentation & Worksheets
Are you Leading or Managing? (blog post)


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You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her books RISE and MOVE.

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