How To Turn Inconveniences Into Advantages

December 13, 2016 Leadership

Resilience is a big part of life.

It can seem like some deal with the downs of life well. They are able to bounce back and move forward.

Others, through no real fault of their own, struggle with resilience. The downs of life really bother them. They have trouble moving forward.

One thing related to resilience, at least the way I look at it, is how we deal with simple inconveniences in life.

I had a recent inconvenience in business that I tried to look at in a new way. It kind of resulted in some resiliency, but it also showed me that in inconvenience there is advantage and opportunity.

Getting Paid Late

I don’t know why it works out this way, but it seems like every few months that a number of clients will decide not to pay their bills. I always kind of look at it as an inconvenience. It forces me to keep sending reminder invoices and things like that. It always puts me in a bad mood.

Usually most times it’s not that the client is doing anything on purpose. Sometimes they forgot about the invoice. They’re busy and all that kind of stuff.

Last month when this happened I tried taking a different approach. This time I looked at how to turn this situation into an advantage or into an opportunity.

So we setup a proper procedure or system for invoicing. Now we have set standards for when invoices are due. That’s 21 days unless we agree on a different arrangement with the client.

Now if a client is past 21 days (and we don’t have a different agreement) we send a reminder invoice, but then also follow up immediately with a personal email asking if there are any issues. We ask if there is someone else that should be getting the invoice to ensure that no invoices are late and things like that.

Many clients have appreciated this. They like us helping them making paying the invoice easier. For example, some of our contacts are project managers. They get the invoice and then have to forward it on to the accounting department. So in some cases we now send it straight to the accounting department. It’s better for all parties.

So that’s kind of turned into an advantage for us. We get paid more and it’s easier for the client to deal with which hopefully paints us in a good light compared to the competition.

New Ideas

Inconveniences come in many forms.

Maybe everyday you deal with something that kind of gnaws at you. Maybe your office is right next to a busy intersection and your parking lot is in a bad location so you, your employees and even customers are all probably feeling the same inconvenience.

You could look at it from the perspective that you need to redesign the parking lot to make it easier for you, employees and customers. This can turn the situation into an advantage. It could make your employees happier and make it easier for your customers to want to visit.

Obviously changing something like a parking lot is not as easy as snapping your fingers. There is a cost involved, but if you look at the long-term the improvements you make now could be really worthwhile especially if you retain and attract the best employees and also increase customer traffic.

So in that sense, inconveniences can become new ideas for improving your business and your life.

Industry Improvements

One thing for those in business is dealing with competition. It’s a good thing because it pushes us to look for advantages over the competition. One thing good businesses seem to be able to do is to key in on the inconveniences in their industry. They especially find the things that bother a lot of customers, but that nobody has thought to fix.

Here is one example for a company that provides social media content services.

It’s common for these social media companies to work with their clients to come up with ideas for content to share on social. But one big inconvenience for the clients is that they don’t have time to brainstorm content ideas. They don’t have time to publish social media content so they hire a company to do that. Then they realize they don’t even have time to help brainstorm ideas.

From the social agency’s perspective it’s also inconvenient to have to hassle the client to approve ideas and things like that. So the social company sees this and just makes it their policy that any client that signs on has to trust the agency to handle everything. Signing up for the service basically gives the agency the ability to post without approval on every little thing.

That will scare some clients away, but it will also be appealing to many clients. That’s an advantage in the industry and it stems from inconvenience.

Final Thought

Life is a lot at how you look at it. Even in saturated industries there is room to gain advantage. Often those advantages are found where there is inconvenience. One reason that things don’t change with inconveniences is that we often just deal with the issue and figure that it’s always been this way and that it will always be this way. But the companies that make changes are the ones that create advantages for themselves.

So what inconveniences can you turn into advantages?