Discover the concept of the Bottom Drawer and how it may be affecting your bottom line, good or bad. In the video below, Dr. Stephie Althouse, CEO of Top-Notch CEO, is interviewed by Robert Donnell from P5 Marketing, about the “Bottom Drawer” concept. HINT: It swallows potentially profitable ideas, important projects and business planning that could be affecting your bottom line.
Most of us have a “Bottom Drawer” where we say “We’ll get to it later”. But really, now be honest with yourself, it’s where things go to die. But, there may be gold in them thar’ hills (drawers) and it’s easier than you thought to find and pick out the nuggets. Maybe it’s time to dive into your bottom drawer?
Are you a successful business owner who is always looking to improve your business? Who wants more? Then let’s do a little exploring.
Enjoy the video (or see the transcript of the video below).
We also have a downloadable PDF with more information – at the bottom of the page.
Robert: Hey, everybody, this is Robert with P5 radio. Another episode of learning with our special guest, Dr. Stephie Althouse. Stephie is the CEO and founder of Top-Notch CEO, which is a business consulting firm that specializes in working with successful business owners who want more. Hi, Dr. Stephie, welcome.
Dr. Stephie: Hey, Robert. Thank you for having me.
Robert: All right, well, I’ve got to ask. What do you mean by business owners who want “more”? What’s “more”?
Dr. Stephie: Great question. Well, it can really mean a number of things. It depends on what the business owner wants. It could be more monetary success or it could be having more impact with the work you do, or it could be more quality time with family and friends. Or, it could be finally getting a goal accomplished that’s been lingering around for too long.
Robert: Cool. So, what do you think is stopping successful business owners from getting the “more” they desire?
Dr. Stephie: Well, we have discovered that there’s this phenomenon that we call the “bottom drawer”, and that’s really at the heart of the matter.
Robert: So, I have to ask, right? What is this bottom drawer?
Dr. Stephie: Glad you asked. It’s really, it’s an imaginary or a real place where projects that are too important to discard, but they do seem too difficult to address in the here and now, that’s where they linger. Actually, they often die a slow death because they stay in the bottom of the drawer way too long; a very long time.
Robert: Okay, so I think I can relate to this. If I have something that’s important, I know I have to do it, so I can’t throw it out. I stick it someplace and often forget about it, even though it’s very important.
Dr. Stephie: Yeah, and you almost forget about it, but it’s still kind of nagging you in the back of your head.
Robert: Nagging you, yeah.
Dr. Stephie: It’s this sort of weight on your shoulders that you wish wasn’t there.
Robert: Okay, so why are projects in the bottom drawer in the first place? I mean, we kind of touched on it, but maybe you can talk more about it.
Dr. Stephie: Yeah, we spoke about it a little bit. So, basically these projects are either, at least they seem to be, too difficult or too time-consuming. You know, I just don’t have time for it now. Or the owner thinks they don’t have the resources right now, and that could be monetary resources, time resources, or the right staff with the right skills to tackle this. And furthermore, the ugly truth is that often these projects are in the bottom drawer because the staff that’s supposed to actually implement it somehow is not very interested in doing it; they’re not fully supporting it.
Robert: That I can relate to. Hey, what are some examples of items in the bottom drawer?
Dr. Stephie: All right, well, so there are many, many, many (examples), But just to give a few flavors, one of them is business planning. A lot of even very successful business owners fly basically by what’s in their head, and maybe some notes and some to-do lists, but don’t do systematic business planning. That’s often at the bottom of the drawer.
Online marketing, as you know. Social media projects. Search engine optimization projects. Updating the website, or even redesigning it because it’s just not up to date anymore, or maybe the objectives have changed. What do you want to accomplish with the website? And then creating marketing material, promotional materials, email campaigns, that kind of thing. Figuring out your ideal clients and where you actually find them.
Maybe your marketing is basically what drops in your lap, and you keep saying to yourself, “Oh, one of these days I’m going to sit down and really figure out what my ideal client looks like.” So, that’s often at the bottom of the drawer.
Or documenting procedures or vital processes. Or maybe it’s hiring someone to delegate to, and figuring out what even you can delegate. That happens to a ton of very successful business owners, they’re just wearing so many hats. They know they need to delegate better. Figuring out how to actually go about that often sits in the bottom drawer.
The next one might be creating training materials, or figuring out what even, what kind of training your staff actually needs, or wants.
Another one might be that you’ll be best off having a much more vivid referral program, but creating systematic referral program and identifying or training full partners might sit in the bottom drawer.
Sometimes it’s simple things such as selling or writing off unnecessary equipment.
Or another favorite one is addressing team issues. That might be that you need to do a review with someone, or perhaps have a candid conversation with someone or things of that nature, or it could be something more involved. Team issues, addressing them, oftentimes sit at the bottom of the drawer. So, does that give you a flavor?
Robert: It does. It’s overwhelming, but that’s the issue isn’t it? Bottom drawer stuff can be pretty overwhelming. Help me understand the connection between your bottom line and your bottom drawer. What is this really costing someone?
Dr. Stephie: Yeah, that’s where it’s really pretty painful. I mean, really, the cost of the stuff that’s at the bottom drawer, it can be as much as even integrity – you know you don’t feel like you have integrity with yourself. It certainly affects what sort of peace of mind you have. It affects your profit, it affects your quality time. So really, as I said, it feels like you’re having a bag of something heavy that you’re carrying around with you all the time because you know it’s too important to not do, but you’re not doing it.
Robert: Those certainly are big items. How do we tackle the bottom drawer?
Dr. Stephie: Okay, I’d invite you to, actually let’s do a quick exercise that will help. If you want to, close your eyes and visualize your bottom drawer. So, is it an actual drawer? Is it a folder on your computer where you keep these things? Is it written in a journal? Or, if you’re like many others, successful business owners, it’s very likely that a lot of that sits around in your head. So. it’s almost like a subconscious humming sound.
Now that you’ve visualized this, what projects are lingering there, in whatever that space is for you? Now, I’m inviting you to actually write down three things that you just saw when you visualized this bottom drawer. What is three things that pop to your mind? Write them down right now on a paper. You can stop the video for that.
Anyway, then, hey, congratulations. Now they’re not in the bottom drawer anymore. So what’s next? Put this piece of paper right on your desk, right? So that’s the next step, to put it on your desk. It’s not in the bottom drawer anymore.
Robert: Uh-oh, they’re back on my desk.
Dr. Stephie: Oh no. Okay, so-
Robert: Oh no.
Dr. Stephie: … the question is, what do you do now?
Dr. Stephie: Right? Now, we can certainly help you discover some easy ways to get these things accomplished. Truthfully, it’s often much easier and faster than you might have thought. In fact, many business owners we work with, what they say to us is that all the mental energy they have wasted on these projects, dealing with that “hum” in the back of their minds for months, and maybe even years, in some cases, decades. All that mental energy is actually way greater than what it takes to take care of it in the end. So, that’s what’s available.
Robert: Okay. Let me do a quick summary because I think it’s important to distinguish some of these things. This is a really big problem for, I think, particularly, business owners. We all have this bottom drawer, we put stuff in there, we almost forget about it. It doesn’t get done. We know it’s hurting the business. We know it’s hurting our potential for growth. What you’ve just done, in my opinion, is of great value. You’ve made people aware of that bottom drawer. They’re never going to not think about them as much as they did before, and you’ve helped them surface the three things that are most important. We actually took them out of the bottom drawer and put them on the desk. At this point it’s pretty hard for anybody who now knows they have this bottom drawer and put things on their desk not to do something about it.
Dr. Stephie: I agree.
Robert: Right? I would encourage people not to just put it back in the bottom drawer. Let’s work on it. What I think your greatest contribution is for people who need help, and really, almost everyone does because there’s a saying, which I think applies here, which is “you can’t coach yourself”. It’s often good to have somebody to think through, work through, and put in structures that are going to get this job done, so I encourage people to take advantage of a solid coaching resource.
Dr. Stephie: Absolutely, yes.
Robert: All right. I think that was fun. I think that was hopefully very helpful to everybody, it was helpful to me. We appreciate your coming.
Dr. Stephie: Well, thank you. Thanks for having me.
Robert: All right, until next time.
Dr. Stephie: Okay, ciao ciao.
Robert: Ciao ciao.