When I was 19 in university studying a business degree I learned about a concept called JIT – Just In Time.
JIT refers to how companies can manage their inventory, keeping storage costs down by setting up a system that allows stock to flow into the manufacturing process ‘just in time’ as it is needed.
When I first heard this concept I barely cared enough about it to lock it into my memory for the purposes of passing exams. I didn’t see myself in charge of a manufacturing process any time soon, hence it wasn’t exactly a riveting idea for my younger self.
What I didn’t realize at the time was the real power behind this idea. JIT forces your entire supply and production line to run at peak performance. If one component is delayed, then the whole process shuts down. For JIT to work, EVERYTHING has to be optimized.
I came to really admire this idea when studying the Japanese company Toyota and their philosophies regarding the lean manufacturing process.
Toyota’s system is a symbiosis of people, parts and processes. If one piece of the system is underperforming, the entire system suffers because they have zero latency. They don’t carry extra stock and their entire system shuts down if just one machine is broken.
As you can imagine this is a heck of a lot of pressure, but that’s a good thing. It makes every employee a critical component, and thus they value their contribution highly.
It also makes everyone conscious of their impact on others. They collectively work to optimize the entire system, rather than just focus on what they are doing. When one person makes an improvement, everyone experiences the benefit.
As a result of this system-wide approach to efficiency, the Japanese have truly come to appreciate the value of continuous gradual improvement. When a small improvement can have a flow-on beneficial impact across the whole system, it makes sense for everyone to focus on daily, incremental improvement.
The Japanese have a word, Kaizen, which translates to ‘good change’. Although it doesn’t specifically state continuous or ongoing change, it has widespread use in the western world as a label for ‘gradual improvement’.
Kaizen is a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. It is also a process that, when done correctly, humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work (“muri”), and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method and how to learn to spot and eliminate waste in business processes. – Wikipedia
When I first heard the word Kaizen it wasn’t strictly presented as a manufacturing or business term. I took it as a philosophy, a way to live your life.
“You will get better tomorrow”
It’s a simple idea, but a powerful one. We all aspire to improve, but often the gap between where we are and where we want to be seems incredibly large.
The fact is, all success is a result of continuous improvement. Athletes train their whole lives, tweaking tiny parts of their performance day-by-day, until the whole system is good enough to win.
We do the same in business as entrepreneurs. You’re always working towards a better result in the future, with each daily step moving you closer to your goal.
I find Kaizen a very empowering idea because it helps you turn big goals into daily improvements. When you combine the Kaizen philosophy with another key manufacturing concept – the Theory of Constraints (TOC) – you have a powerful formula for incredible growth.
The TOC forces you to ask what is your goal and what is stopping it from happening. It turns an outcome you desire into a process. There are things you need to change, steps to take, and they need to be done in a certain order. You pick the most important step for today, and you make that your daily Kaizen – your focus to improve.
Kaizen For Online Content Businesses
The system I came up with for making money with content online is called the Blog Sales Funnel. It can use a blog as your main content hub, but you can also tap into YouTube and social media as your initial audience source.
My system is made up of three components –
- Your Blog (audience attractor)
- Your Email List (a direct line of communication)
- Your Products and Services (source of revenue)
Each of these three tools have various steps that need to be executed successfully to create a profitable business.
As you begin building a business based on this model you will quickly find your weaknesses.
You might struggle right at the start with topic selection or what to sell. Maybe traffic is your issue, or you just can’t seem to get anyone to join your email list or buy your products (these are conversion problems).
You might be struggling with technology, or finding the right people to help you, or perhaps you’re just feeling overwhelmed and confused by all the options.
As you gain clarity about what you are doing and where the problems are, that’s when your Kaizen process can really kick in.
Whatever is missing from your process, or is not performing optimally, is impacting your whole system. You need to improve it over time or you’re not going to reach your goal.
Know Your Kaizen Activities
When it comes to concepts like Kaizen, knowing what NOT to work on is just as important as knowing what to improve.
Continuous improvement in the right direction is critical. For example, there’s no point becoming brilliant at social media if it doesn’t actually help you make money.
This is why I strongly believe in strategy and education. Most people are not afraid of hard work, but they don’t know how to invest their hard work to get the result they want.
The same pitfall occurs in knowing your audience. You can do an incredible job of helping a group of people with your content, but if you’re going after the wrong audience or presenting the wrong message to them, you’re effectively wasting your time.
The Four Elements You Should Work On Each Day
If you were to ask my advice on what activities to focus on every day I would tell you there are four things that matter most.
These are the four important goals that lead to the creation of a profitable content business. If you divide your time across these four activities each day and aim to make them your Kaizen – get a little bit better every day – your overall system will improve dramatically.
Here are the four key Kaizen goals in video and text:
1. Customer Acquisition
This might sound overly simple, but getting people to buy your products and services is how you make money.
Each day you need to ask yourself — are you working on tasks that actually lead to attracting and converting paying customers? This is your first task, the most important task, if you want a profitable business.
2. Product/Service Creation
In order to have customers you need something to sell them.
If you don’t have something to sell, or you’re selling the wrong thing to the wrong audience, then you need to focus on product creation.
Every day you should be working towards something that will become a product or service, or improve your existing product or service.
3. Connect With Strategic Partners (Marketing)
Marketing today is all about whom you have relationships with. Your opportunities to reach new audiences come from other people sharing your work.
It could be press coverage, links from other websites to help with SEO, a collab with an influencer on YouTube or social media, a joint venture webinar, a launch campaign with affiliates, connecting with the right ad buyer — all of these things happen when you connect with the right people.
The best way to build quality relationships is to help others. Every day you should do something that helps people who are good potential strategic partners (people who have the audience you want to reach).
Don’t expect anything in return, just help people because you can, and do it every day.
4. Your Own Education
This article you are reading now began with a concept, JIT, which I learned about in university. I combined it with other concepts I have learned over the years, from Kaizen, to the Theory of Constraints, to the Blog Sales Funnel.
I apply these ideas every day, and I’ve become a better entrepreneur because of them.
Education is vital to your success and it can’t stop. Every single day you should study something that makes you better as a business owner and a person.
Ideally, you should study subjects that help you improve what you are focused on today. Study how to get customers, create valuable products and build your audience (the three previous points), all great topics to focus your daily Kaizen on.
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If you are not making incremental improvement each day on these four things you need to seriously evaluate how you spend your time or you may never reach your goals.
Here’s to your success,