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I used to row on the crew team in college. For those of you who know me, at 5’2″ I’m not exactly the typical long and lanky rower-type. Despite my lack of height we did pretty well for a bunch of novices—and even won some regional races.
But that’s beside the point.
The boats we raced had either 4 or 8 people in it and each person had one oar. When we weren’t rowing, the oars were kept flat on the water so the boat wouldn’t tip over.
Sometimes while we were sitting on the water getting instructions from our coach or waiting for our turn to line up in a race, the boat would start tipping, ever so slightly, so that we were all sitting kind of sideways a bit. It wasn’t a precarious tip—think of a slight “lean” to one side. Because our minds were elsewhere, we would unconsciously adjust our weight in our seats to compensate so we wouldn’t fall out.
It wasn’t until the coxswain (the person who steers the boat and gives instructions) would yell, “keel it up!” we’d snap to attention and make ever-so-slight adjustments to our oars so that the boat would sit evenly on the water. After the boat was keeled up we all realized how uncomfortable we were being off-keel.
So what’s this got to do with business?
If you’ve ever had a gut feeling that there was something wrong with your business, but you couldn’t put your finger on it or you that you have a nagging feeling that something is brewing with your market, your business may be off-keel.
It could be that sales are growing but you aren’t seeing that money in your bank account. Or your customers aren’t buying from you after their first purchase. You may be “leaning” in your business and you don’t even realize it.
The critical thing with getting back on keel is to make minor adjustments. If, when the coxswain commanded to “keel it up” one side of rowers slapped their oars in the water, the boat most certainly would have tipped over, tumbling all of us into the river.
In business, sometimes it is minor adjustments that make everything balance out.
Maybe a look at costs over time will help to identify where profit is leaking. Or a quick customer survey may help you tweak your marketing message to fulfill an unmet need. Little adjustments can have a big impact.
So take a look in your business and address what you need to get keeled up. Once you do, you’ll realize how good it is to be back in balance.