When I was taking under-grad classes one of the most poignant business lessons that stayed with me stemmed from Deming’s PDCA Cycle. The PDCA Cycle is a checklist of the four stages that you must go through in business to get from `problem-faced’ to `problem solved’. The four stages are Plan-Do-Check-Act.
That’s well and good, and I’m sure boring to some – but how does that relate to your direct sales business, right? You can use it with your team or with your individual business. You can use it plan and coordinate your continuous improvement efforts. (I’m assuming any good businesswoman will always strive for continuous improvement in her business and never become complacent or stagnant). Using the PDCA cycle highlights the importance of starting with careful planning that must result in effective action and must move on again to careful planning in a continuous cycle.
Are you still with me? Remember you’re a business owner. I hope you haven’t been running your business willy nilly. It’s vitally important that you run your business like a business if you are to realize sizable results.
You can also use PDCA in team meetings and working with individual consultants to determine what stage improvement projects are at (you may find you’re at stage zero), and to choose the appropriate tools and methods to see each stage through to successful completion.
Here is what you do for your direct sales business for each stage of the PDCA Cycle:
- Plan to improve your business first by finding out what things are going wrong (that is identify the problems faced whether it’s sales, recruiting, personal shyness, lack of product knowledge, computers, etc., and come up with ideas for solving these problems.
- Do changes designed to solve the problems on a small or experimental scale first. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Perhaps you just need some more one and one training with your sponsor, or re-read (assuming you already read it cover to cover at least once) the company policies and procedures, watch a video tutorial, attend a meeting, etc. This minimizes disruption to routine activity while testing whether the changes will work or not.
- Check whether the small scale or experimental changes are achieving the desired result or not. Again, I hope you’re not running your business willy nilly. If you have no way of testing the effectiveness of a change, you may be spinning your wheels for naught. Also, continuously check key business and marketing activities (regardless of any experimentation going on) to ensure that you know what the quality of the output is at all times to identify any new problems when they crop up.
- Act to implement changes on a larger scale if the experiment is successful. This means making the changes a routine part of your activity. Also Act to involve other persons (team members and potential recruits) affected by the changes and whose cooperation you need to implement them on a larger scale, or those who may simply benefit from what you have learned (you may, of course, already have involved these people in the Do or trial stage).
If you’re interested in learning more about PDCA check out `Out of the Crisis’, W Edwards Deming, MIT 1989, or `Kaizen’, Masaaki Imai, McGraw-Hill, 1986.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling candles or gourmet food or jewelry or skin care or widgets. This PDCA Cycle will work in any business, including your direct sales business. Give it a try!
About the Author: Laurie Ayers is a Michigan work from home mom and a Superstar Director with Scentsy Wickless Candles. She enjoys helping men and women start and maintain a home based business in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Germany, Ireland, France, Spain and the UK. To download a FREE Start Up Guide which provides more details about how to start a home business as well as to learn about our compensation plan go to www.thrivingcandlebusiness.com/how-to-start-a-candle-business/ or for updates on Facebook LIKE www.facebook.com/ThrivingCandleBusiness, Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/lauriepayers/ and Twitter @directsalesblog