I’m a farm girl; on the Best Valley Dairy Farm, we milked Holsteins. We often had our “favorite” cows, but when the industry developed the capacity to measure how much milk each cow was contributing, we were shocked to realize our favorites were not the producers who kept our farm in business. Sadly, one of the few options available was hamburger.
According to the dictionary, a sacred cow is an idea, custom or institution held to be above criticism.
As business owners, sacred cows can cause us to endanger our entire operation by refusing to scrutinize long-held beliefs that may need to be reevaluated.
Common examples of sacred cows are:
Businesses grinding to a halt
Kodak’s inability to recognize an industry disrupter in the digital camera cost the company its’ entire existence. Where are the video rental stores that once peppered every neighborhood? Entire industries have disappeared due to changes in technology and consumer behavior.
Your target market wants something new
You’ve been servicing a set of customers or a region that once was the backbone of your business. However, if you properly analyze the feedback from sales, you may realize those customers are actually costing you money! These sacred cows are easily overlooked, but they can be incredibly dangerous or even fatal to your business.
Your employees don’t seem to produce like they used to
Take the example of an employee who has been with you through thick and thin. Your sense of loyalty to them is understandable. Unfortunately, when you take time to analyze what they’re really producing, the ROI may not be there.
Or the employee who manipulated himself into being beyond scrutiny. An owner was amazed to realize how costly and unproductive this person was to his business. He eventually realized the employee kept distracting him with criticisms and suggestions about how things needed to be done differently.
Ideals can be sacred cows too
Sometimes we hold the belief that the pendulum will eventually swing our way again, when in reality, we must constantly reevaluate and change as our industry changes. Refusing to accept what the facts and figures are telling you because of your ideals or your vision, may be putting your business at risk.
Forcing yourself to offer a new product, dumping a costly customer segment or letting go of people who no longer fit into the future direction of your business isn’t easy. But it may be the antidote that your company needs to survive and thrive into the future.
Do you remember Maxwell Smart and 99? They met the Sacred Cows. Click here to take a walk down memory lane.