The Stupid Little Things in Business

If you waste time on things that don't help grow your business you won't have time for the things that do.

If you waste time on things that don’t help grow your business you won’t have time for the things that do.


The Wall Street Journal had a story this week that McDonald’s has decided to remove Heinz ketchup from its stores since Burger King will now use Heinz in its stores. This is the dumbest argument I have heard in awhile. How about spending time and energy to have better service at McDonald’s? Training employees to serve the customers better is way more complicated than getting press for a war over ketchup.

You can read the WSJ article here.

There are far too many things that you can distract yourself with as a business owner or, in the case of McDonald’s, as the executive team at a major brand. I listen to business owners talk about the problem with one thing or another all the time. I have plenty of stories of owners fretting about stupid little things that do not add customers, profits, or loyalty to a brand.

For instance, I visited a franchisee in an ice cream store brand who was screaming about how a vendor was cheating him because the box said whole pecans and some of pecans were broken. I don’t think you could get me to raise my voice over pecans. I have never heard another complaint about pecans since and that was years ago. Sigh.

Another story is the restauranteur who told me he was saving tons of money by only giving two napkins to a customer. I can count on one hand how many restaurants went under because of napkin theft. One. That guy. He spent so much time worrying about napkins that he lost all his customers and closed. Stupid little things can eat your time and profits.

So what filter should you use when you want to spend the energy to improve your business? It is the same one I use when I consult with owners,

  1. Do any of your concerns interrupt daily business?
  2. Would making a change delay helping customers?
  3. What is it going to cost to make a change?
  4. If you waited a week or a month to make a change would it negatively impact your profits, products, or service?
  5. Does anyone else have the same concern?

I have more questions to help filter the problem into one of two piles, one of which is in the trash can, but any one of these questions leads to more topics and that is the point. Think it through before you spent anything.

If McDonald’s had looked at ketchup the way that customers look at ketchup (we don’t care), then they would have left Heinz where it was. If this is a publicity stunt, they just lost me as a customer. If this is a real problem, they have too much money and need to be taken down a notch. I, for one, am going to pack my lunch.

What stupid little thing have you worried about? I am at the age when I can let many stupid little things fall away. I used to worry about the owners that I couldn’t save. Now, I give them the advice and let them act on it. If they fail because they didn’t listen, I move on. I don’t control their ears.

What filters do you use? Is it a list of questions or is it a person (like me) who you can bounce concerns off to get a better perspective? If you don’t, the stupid little thing in business is YOU.