Last week I decided to work at home a couple of days, which was probably my first mistake. I turned the TV on the Discovery Channel and a marathon of the series Gold Rush was on. As it turns out, the 10th season was premiering on Friday, so it was all Gold Rush all week.
I’m sure you know what’s coming next...yup I was sucked in to watching part of a TV show marathon. I’m not sure what it is about the show. I guess it’s true that we’ll watch just about anything, as long as there’s a little drama. If you haven’t seen it- the show follows 3 gold mining crews as they use modern day techniques to mine their claims in the Yukon. It’s a lot of heavy equipment moving a lot of dirt, which is not good for the environment.
As I was watching, I began to realize that it was more than just mindless entertainment. I could see the mining bosses were giving a lesson in running a business, whether they knew it or not. One of the crews is led by a young boss named Parker. He decided to shake things up and try something new. Rather than hauling the gold-rich “pay dirt” from the area he was mining to the wash plant in a separate location (what most crews do), he decided to move the wash plant to the “pay dirt” location. In other words, he figured out a way to streamline his operation. He was sluicing for gold with less manpower, plus he was burning a lot less fuel, all of which cut down on his overhead. This in turn, increased profits. On top of that, he was having a great season, bringing in over a hundred ounces of gold per week.
By contrast, one of the other crews, named 316 Mining, was having a terrible season. Things just were not going their way. At every turn, their solution was to throw money at the problem. One mine isn’t bringing in enough? Well let’s expand to two and then three mines! Not cleaning up enough gold? Let’s get a bigger trommel to run the “pay dirt” through! In the end, the decisions to run more operations or buy bigger, better equipment didn't actually increase productivity. It just ate into the profits. In the end, they were only able to clean up about sixteen hundred ounces of gold for the whole season.
So that’s how it goes with most businesses. As business owners, we have a choice. We can innovate and find more efficient ways to run our business or we can let fear drive us to throw money at the problem, in hopes that we will hit the mother load.
I’m sure there are areas in your business, just as there are in mine, where small changes could make a big impact. It may not be as big as moving your wash plant to the “pay dirt,” but little tweaks in efficiency can make all the difference.
The dream to run a successful business is the same, whether we’re mining for gold or photographing weddings. The next time bookings are down, instead of panicking and paying to setup at a bridal show that you can’t afford (yup I’ve done that) in the hope of booking some weddings (I didn’t actually), look for ways to innovate and put yourself out there.