December 10, 2017
There is a good reason why we don’t cook bacon in the nude. Whether you are a politician, a student, a member of the military, or a business owner, success and failure can hang in the balance based on one simple premise – the details.
Whether you are a politician, a student, a member of the military, or a business owner, success and failure can hang in the balance based on one simple premise – the details.
Successful people will tell you all the time: “Worry about the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.”
For example, there is a good reason why we don’t cook bacon in the nude. While we know we’re going to get burned eventually from a splatter of hot grease, by covering ourselves with clothing, we are protecting some of our more sensitive areas. It’s an important detail that insures we cook the bacon successfully and without incident.
Well, in business, there’s a lot of truth to that statement about the little things; especially if you want to be an effective and successful business owner or leader.
It was Colin Powell, American statesman and retired four-star U.S. Army general who said, “Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.”
Simply put, he is spot on.
I know of no other example that best describes this, than something that recently took place. About two weeks ago our company put out a bid on behalf of one of our clients for a very detailed, membership-driven Web site to be built. Because we have a number of strategic partners in this area, the bid was sent to four companies who we’ve worked with previously and a fifth company that came to us “highly recommended.”
The four companies who we’ve worked with previously, all submitted similarly priced bids and the winning proposal was about $2,500 lower than the company that we actually wanted to win the bid. But, because we have done so much business with them previously, they not only recommended we go with the lower bid, but they provided essential feedback for us to make sure that we were going to receive everything we actually needed to get the job done for the client. That attention to detail showed me why, even though they didn’t win the bid, that they are as successful as they are in their space.
On the other side of the coin, the fifth bid from the “highly recommended” company, made a very bad first impression with me. While their proposal covered all the aspects of what we requested to be built, their bid had one major error in it and it was such a glaring mistake to me, that I had to ask myself, “If they didn’t catch something as obvious as this, how could I possibly trust them to get the details of the project right?”
So, where exactly did they show a lack of detail?
In the price quote, they provided a line item estimate. There were only three line items. The first line item was for $3,750, the second line item was for $2,600 and the third line item was for $2,750, bringing the subtotal to $9,100, all of which was shown on the PDF file that was submitted. However, after applying $509.60 in taxes, instead of $9,609.60 showing as the total amount due, the sum of $96,096 was shown, a number that was also repeated at the very top of the page.
While that might sound like a silly little mistake to some, silly little mistakes can cost us dearly and if they are repeated enough times, they can put a company right out of business; especially one that must pay close attention to details.
Not convinced? Perhaps this will put it into perspective from an even more personal point of view.
Back in 1982, while attending the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, I had a journalism class final assignment to write a story. The story counted for 50% of our final grade. As a journalism student who used an IBM Selectric typewriter, typos and transposed letters were fairly commonplace, but before handing in our work, we would provide proofreading marks on our stories to correct our mistakes. Sometimes we didn’t catch all the errors. The one mistake that we couldn’t afford to submit without correcting was a fact error. If a story was submitted with a fact error, you were penalized 50 points. Well, in that final story I submitted, I quoted a student who had just come out of the J. Wayne Reitz Union, which is a building that still stands today and houses, among other things the student union and dining areas. However, in the story I submitted, I referred to the building as the “Wayne J. Reitz Union.” That silly little mistake cost me 50 points and dropped my class average to a C-minus. Thirty-four years later, I still remember trying to get my professor, Jean Chance, to change my grade. She didn’t. I neglected the details and it cost me.
The moral of both my story as a student and the story of the company that submitted the bid with the blatant error in it, is always pay close attention to the details and try your best to avoid the silly little mistakes that will not only cost you business, but have you talking about it many years from now.
And if that doesn’t hit home, always remember . . . never cook bacon in the nude.