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Will You Regret Expanding Your Small Business? Here's How To Know In Advance

Would Travis Timmons and his colleagues at Fitness Matters regret expanding into home health care Physical Therapy?
Of course, your own business might be facing such a strategic decision about expansion, as well.That is why everything presented in the last post was general enough that it could apply to your business.
First, there is danger in getting too excited about expansion. We humans tend not to be very balanced in weighing the pros and cons of a situation when we really want to do something.
That is why it is important to have a method and some guidelines.
Let’s quickly circle back to my favorite method: The System of Profound Knowledge created by Dr. W. Edwards Deming. As the Deming Institute points out: SoPK is an effective theory of management that provides a framework of thought and action for any leader wishing to transform and create a thriving organization, with the aim for everybody to win.
By management appropriately applying the principles and practices of SoPK, a business can simultaneously reduce costs through reducing waste, rework, staff attrition and litigation, while increasing quality, customer loyalty, worker satisfaction and, ultimately, profitability.
There are four elements of SoPK and they can cascade into the entire organization. That means they apply to marketing, strategy, sales, operations, human resources –to everything in the organization.
In applying them to Travis’ situation, I purposely over-simplified the four elements to make a succinct point about how quickly they can help you make a decision about strategy –and in this case about expansion into a related field of business.
Mandy Hall, Physical Therapy Assistant, confers with Travis Timmons about a client’s wellness plan.
Mandy Hall, Physical Therapy Assistant, confers with Travis Timmons about a client’s wellness plan.
Here are the questions I posed –this time I’m including the answers:
Understanding Variation: How much variation/difference is there between the new, although related, business and the existing business? [Answer: a LOT more variation than you might think. There are MANY more and different variables to consider with home health care Physical Therapy.] Appreciation for a System: Would going into the new, although related business, affect the system of how Fitness Matters operates in a significant way? [Answer: Yes. The business operating system is very streamlined to make the client experience at Fitness Matters comfortable, efficient, effective, and professional yet friendly. Furthermore, scheduling becomes more challenging because you have to take travel time and home locations into account.] Human Psychology: Is there a significant difference in the psychology required to work as a Physical Therapist in someone’s home vs. at Fitness Matters? [Answer: Yes. Just one example:, the Physical Therapist who is working at Fitness Matters doesn’t have any distractions from the environment –and in fact has everything s/he needs to assure the best outcome possible. In someone’s home…well, who knows?] Would the staff at Fitness Matters feel comfortable working in the homes of patients? [Perhaps not –and that could cause big and recurring staffing issues.] Theory of Knowledge: Is there a simple way to gain knowledge by testing such an expansion via a PLAN – DO – STUDY – ACT experiment with low risk and low cost, and in a timely way? [Answer: Yes. In this case, the PLAN would be to have a Fitness Matters person learn about the scheduling issues via a company like Fitness Matters –that doesn’t compete with Fitness Matters. The DO, would include making a schedule for a mock day in the life of Fitness Matters home health care physical therapy. Similarly, a Fitness Matters person could shadow a home health care nurse or physical therapist from a non-competing company into a home visit. Then, in the STUDY phase, findings would be shared with others, and in the ACT Phase a decision could be made to ACT by trying another PDSA, ACTING by going into the home health care Physical Therapy business, or ACTING by abandoning the idea.]

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