The Easiest Way to Quality Control

Sep 28, 2010, Written by Sue Miley

Do you take your own advice?  Do you use your own products?  I recently read Jason Fried of 37 Signals book ReWork.  One of the things He says is that they began by creating tools that they needed in their business.

They use their own products.

They are their own quality control.

I don’t know what kind of business you are in but it is still a good question for every small business owner to consider and act on. Do you use your own products?

What if Your Product is Your Knowledge?

When I was in the restaurant and food business, I definitely consumed our products.  It’s what created my expensive food tastes.  I was in the coffee business for 12 years and consumed more than one person’s fair share of our coffee.

Now I am in the coaching and counseling business.  I reflect often on whether or not I give advice from the “do what I say, not what I do” school of coaching and counseling.  Since everyone’s situation is a little different, I am safe if I am not precisely using the same advice as each client receives.

But, for the most part, as a Christian coach and counselor, I seek wisdom and guidance from God.  I definitely do that personally, as well as for my clients.

Put It Down on Paper

Recently, I have been spending an enormous amount of time creating information products.  Basically, I am putting down on paper how I run businesses and the advice I have given to hundreds of clients over time.

The reason I really like one on one coaching is because I can customize information, training, and/or advice to the client’s specific business and situation.  Creating a one size fits all home study course limits my creativity and the options I can provide.

We Are All Different and The Client Needs Choices

The one area that I didn’t want to skimp on is providing various ways to look at and plan for your business.  I have included many templates, tools, and perspectives to look at how to build various parts of a business.

Then I realized, if I don’t try them myself, how will I know if they work.  I am not going to necessarily receive weekly feedback from these clients like I do my weekly coaching clients.  What if it doesn’t work?

Of course, I couldn’t live with that so I began to implement my new programs in my own business.  I am trying the different recommendations and templates.  Some of them I have used for years and that is why they are included.

Others I have come up with throughout the creative process.  Even if a specific isn’t a good fit for me, many times I will keep it in and explain the type of person it will work well with.

Benefits of Using Your Own Products

I have tweaked several templates and I have shared some of these new ideas with my weekly coaching clients.

One of the most fantastic benefits is realizing how much I can improve the directions and descriptions of the tools and templates.  When I was writing I seemed to skip some steps that were just second nature to me.  I caught them by trying them out.

I know we feel pressure to complete projects, to get products to market, but take it from recent experience…..use your own products.

It’s Like Adding Your Own Quality Seal

It’s easy if you make coffee or tennis shoes or other tangible goods.  It’s even very probable if you have a service like carpentry, graphic design, or some other tangible deliverable.

It gets a little more gray when your product is your ideas, your processes, or your advice.

It goes into the camp of practice what you preach, walk the walk and talk the talk, and where we began, which is do you follow your own advice and/or use your own products?

My advice:  You are probably really good at what you do, so you should definitely use your own products and services.  If not you, then why would anyone else?

What are your thoughts?

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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