In business, as in life, we have been conditioned to attend to major or life-changing events with the admonition “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” The adage holds true in controlling issues you can or should conquer immediately. What we identify as the “small stuff” then becomes secondary in priority. As direct marketers, having more primary contact with customers, a shake-up in the philosophy proves beneficial in the long run.

What constitutes the small stuff? Consider how your operation is geared to run efficiently. What are the pieces that must fit together to make the business successful? Signage may be categorized as “small stuff,” but if your customers have no idea where to park or how to find the restrooms, how long will it be before they become uninterested or confused? Your employees may spend more time assisting customers than doing their own jobs. This creates a cascading set of challenges that can become the big stuff.

Identify the important components of your business and begin categorizing each by a standard of priority. What do you consider the big stuff and the small stuff? Would ignoring the small stuff prove difficult in your day-to-day operation or cost you valuable time at a crisis point? The recent pandemic demonstrated that things employers took for granted actually rolled together to create significant business changes. Today we realize that all business owners must be able to adapt to challenges beyond their control and make changes on the fly if necessary.

Customer courtesy items are often considered the small stuff – or “management will get to it when they have time.” More often than not, this ushers in a host of little problems that grow into bigger issues which require even more attention. For example, a U-pick operation runs out of containers and customers must wait, thus backing up a good flow of trade. Or a loose board on a walkway will be fixed tomorrow but trips up a visitor today. Customer complaints or feedback may pile up when bigger problems take precedence; however, left unresolved, loss of customer confidence can rob a business of loyal buyers.

Perhaps it is not that we intentionally segment issues as much as delegate what challenges require immediate attention. If you follow the business creed “the customer is always right,” then you have a starting point for determining what “stuff” requires your attention first. Your business is built around operational requirements – the plants need watering and the apples need picking. Intertwined within those parameters are the small things begging for attention. Maybe it is time to sweat the small stuff and come out on the winning end.

The above information is presented for educational purposes and should not be substituted for professional business or legal counseling.