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Run Your Company on Three Sheets of Toilet Paper

By Mike Michalowicz
Have you ever realized how efficiently you can do the “cleaning phase” when you are wrapping up your bathroom business and there are only a few sheets of toilet paper left? It is absolutely amazing what can be accomplished with only three pieces of TP and the few usable scraps from the barely within reach wastebasket! But, oh how quickly we forget our efficiencies and ability to conserve when the fresh roll of Charmin hangs in front of us.

The great philosopher Plato taught us that necessity is the mother of invention. And it is true in far more than just the bathroom. When we treat our business resources as valuable and limited, just like the last three sheets of TP, we can maximize the return from each component. Just ponder these thoughts:

1. How can you advertise more effectively than you ever have, yet do it for 1/10 of what you have ever spent?

2. What if you could achieve the same or better results with fewer employees? Who would you keep and who would you let go?

3. Is it possible to use less office space and yet achieve higher productivity?

4. Can you cut your company meeting time by 80%, yet increase the effectiveness of communications by 100%?

5. Where else can you spend 80% less, yet get 20% more?

While the specific methods to get a positive result for each of these questions vary, it is possible in every instance. The reason lies in human nature. When we see a resource such as money, as currently plentiful; we see it as always plentiful – and we feel comfortable spending. When the money is scarce; we see it as always scarce – and start behaving conservatively.

Exploit this knowledge; if we start viewing our resources like they are scarce, we start acting conservatively. Also, we open our eyes to new ways of achieving more with less. You can accomplish this with any resource you have, but the easiest is money. Try this on for size, every time you have a deposit take 20% (or any manageable percentage) and put it into an escrow account. Use the remaining 80% to run your business and you will be amazed on how you can adjust. That 20% you are saving away will start to pile up and will be a nice profit share come year end.

Another trick, leave only 3 sheets of toilet paper in the bathrooms. You will save quite a few dollars on bathroom supplies, but then again your colleagues may not like you much. On second thought, maybe it is better to splurge and keep the TP flowing.


Questions? Comments? BigIdeaCES@CNBC.com