If you talk to our staff for any length of time, I think you’ll find that most of them have at least two obsessions in common, an obsession with good business practices and an obsession with gadgets of all kinds. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that the same kind of thinking that goes into good gadget selection can also apply to business.
Here are two of my (and my wife’s) favorite gadgets.
The Classic KitchenAid Standing Mixer.
I’m sure more than a few of you probably have one of these behemoths at home. At over $200, depending on model and attachments, this type of mixer is considered a long- term investment. You can easily purchase a standing mixer for around $30 on Amazon, so why would you spent 8 times as much for one of these (big, heavy) babies? The answer is quality. All metal parts, a strong motor, and a time-tested design that’s barely changed since the 1930s. You’re buying a tool that will work reliably and handle a wide range of abuse (without breaking) that will last years, possibly generations. The reason they are so expensive is that most people will only buy one in their lifetime!
So how does this relate to the IT business world? Well as we all know the market is flooded with cheap technology. You get a free(ish) router when you sign up for business internet, usually with a built-in firewall. You can purchase a PC for around $250 from almost anywhere. But are these tools that will stand the test of time? Will they be reliable and take the abuse you, your staff and your customers will throw at them? Probably not!
The business lesson: Cheap items are rarely good for the long term. Investing in well-researched and quality tools will pay off in the long run. It sounds like a cliche but we at Nutmeg see it every day. Buy good value, get good results!
The Roomba Robot Vacuum Cleaner
We recently moved to a brand-new apartment with lots of wood floors and wanted to keep things a bit more tidy than our last place. We decided to invested in a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. These run around $300 depending on the model, where a typical vacuum cleaner is around $150. Here’s the problem. In our old apartment it was a good month when I ran the vacuum twice a month. In the new apartment, thanks to the schedule feature my robo-vac runs every day while I’m working. My apartment is cleaner and with a toddler running around it’s also a little safer. For me though it’s also a way to free up more of my time. Let’s say I vacuumed 20 minutes, once a week for a year. That’s 14 hours a year spent cleaning instead of playing with my kid. That $150 increased investment spread over 3-5 years of the product is starting to look like a bargain. Clean appartment, happy dad, good kid! How cool is that?
The business lesson: Automation of simple (and not so simple) tasks may have a larger upfront cost, but almost always pays for itself over time. Imagine if you could save your staff 3 hours a week of repetition where you managed to replace those repetitive tasks with some kind of automation. How much is that worth in billable hours? 10k-15k a month? Automation is almost always a good investment. Try doing the math yourself and you might be surprised!