There are few places with more cliché sayings than corporate America. While coming out of a meeting with a list of action items is common, sometimes you might just need to think outside the box to achieve a win-win situation filled with synergy going forward. Think that’s a mouthful? Check out these business clichés that are actually worth listening to.
1. Low-Hanging Fruit
The term “low-hanging fruit” is used to discuss opportunities for the best results with the least amount of effort. Also known as quick wins, you never want to ignore a chance to quickly achieve noteworthy results.
Think about it like this: if you have an opportunity to get a lot done quickly or little done slowly, which would you rather do? Any sane organization will surely go after the low-hanging fruit first and move on to the more challenging projects while the easier ones are already delivering results.
In some industries, like real estate, many deals result in a win-lose scenario, where one party comes out ahead and the other comes out behind. In a win-win situation, both parties come out ahead.
While the phrase win-win may be overused in cublicleland, putting the concept into action leads to powerful results. When you can find a win-win opportunity, everyone involved comes out ahead. Clearly that should always be the goal in any business dealings. If you go around trying to screw people, karma will eventually catch up with you.
3. The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule might sound cliché, but the results of following the rule, also called The Pareto Principle, are anything but. In fact, I put this strategy to use in my own freelance business and tripled my income over two months!
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When I left my job to become a full-time freelancer in 2016, my business included both freelance writing and website support and development. After reviewing my accounting records and how I spent my time, I found that about 80 percent of my time went to web support, and that provided a little under 20 percent of my income. Writing, on the other hand, took up 20 percent of my time and provided 76 percent of my income. When I stopped doing website work, my income dramatically increased.
Do not ignore the power of the 80/20 rule!
Synergy is a popular buzzword used to explain how businesses will save money after a merger. Companies need only one accounting team, one legal team, and so on in the main office, but after a merger they have two sets of teams. In this case, synergies means layoffs, and no one enjoys those.
However, finding internal synergies that work in favor of any business is a good thing, and does not have to mean layoffs. Finding ways for teams to improve how they work together, and adding small efficiencies here and there offer enough synergies to make the conversation worthwhile.
5. Raising the Bar
Raising the bar might be a cliché, but every business should always be looking to improve. Raising the bar means improving, and every manager and employee should be on board with that.
Businesses that do not work to continually improve get rolled over by stronger competitors. Just look at how stores like Kmart and Sears fared when Amazon began eating up market share. If you don’t innovate and raise the bar, you’ll find yourself facing the business graveyard.
6. Seamless Integration
From technology to supply chain, businesses are constantly on the lookout for seamless integration. While the cliché goes back to textiles, the way we apply it in business can help leaders find success in the margins and small details of business operations.
One of the biggest pioneers in supply chain management is Dell. While the company has struggled as PC sales decline, it was one of the best performers when PC sales were hot. Part of the strategy was based on “just in time” fulfillment. This strategy allows Dell to operate more efficiently, fulfill orders on demand, and save money on inventory.
7. Paradigm Shift
Sometimes you just need a new perspective. While it may not be as extreme as a full paradigm shift, the idea of changing your point of view or your strategy for approaching a problem could be helpful.
Businesses often get set in a cycle of “this is how we always do it.” That is the wrong way to look at any scenario. Don’t do something just because it was always done that way. Be ready to challenge assumptions. The old way might be best, but finding a new paradigm might lead to a win-win for everyone involved. (See what I did there?)
8. Think Outside the Box
This is really similar to paradigm shift, so it doesn’t need its own lengthy explanation. Be creative and willing to try new ideas.
9. Team Player
While the phrase “team player” was already worn out in 1992, we still use it on resumes and job descriptions. Everyone has unique skills and strengths. A good team includes members that have offsetting strengths and weaknesses. When we work together, we can get more done than working alone.
10. Core Competency
Speaking of unique skills and strengths, core competencies are another cliché that relates to a valuable idea. There is a reason people in IT are not doing sales, marketing staff does not handle month-end bookkeeping, and accountants are not writing website copy. Everyone has a specialization, and sometimes even companies have specializations.
When you can recognize your core competencies, either as an individual or a team, you can focus on those strengths to get the best business results. Hiring and partnering with others whose core competencies align with your weaknesses, you are destined for yet another win-win.
11. Take this Offline
This cliché has saved any large company employee dozens of hours listening to conversations that have no relevance to you. While the phrase itself is a bit silly, moving conversations that only impact two or three people out of larger meetings saves everyone time.
Now it’s time to take this discussion offline. Send us a tweet at @NavSMB letting us know which business clichés you wish would go away for good.
This article was originally written on October 23, 2017 and updated on February 2, 2021.
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