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Ikea Furniture and Running a Business: Don’t Apply the Same Approach

March 30, 2023

Everyone loves Ikea — it’s affordable, convenient, and its flat-pack furniture can be easily put together by following instructions. It would be great if running a company was just as straightforward. But although the number of “how-to” books and online courses might make you think otherwise, there’s not one universal guide to making your business a success. 

Let’s look at why running a business and putting together Ikea furniture are different ball games — and how you can still get things right for your company in the absence of a manual. 

The problem with Ikea
Ultimately, the issues with Ikea come back to one core principle: Blanket implementation. 

All you need to build an Ikea table is an instruction booklet with a few diagrams and some simple instructions. That same booklet is applicable for thousands of other versions of that same furniture set — there’s zero variation and no additional factors to contend with. 

But you can’t just read a manual about “how to run a business” and assume that all the prescriptions will apply to you. Even another company in the same sector with a similar target audience and product or service won’t necessarily benefit from taking the same approach. 

Every business is unique, with its own set of values, culture, technology, leadership style, and strategic direction — to name a few. So, how can you cater for that? 

The alternative
There might not be a universal guide for how to run a business effectively, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done — just that you’re going to have to put some more thought into what makes your company unique and how to build the right processes for it. 

Most companies have some kind of mission statement, but they’re often out of date. A good starting point is to review yours with your team. Do they feel that it reflects the nature of your business today? Is anything missing? Are there any values or objectives you’d like to uphold but haven’t been able to? This will give you a starting point for understanding what makes your company special. 

Once you’ve got a better idea of what your company is all about, you can start to play closer attention to its operations. Ideally, your process should reflect the firm’s mission — otherwise, there’s little point in having that mission in the first place. This is where things get a little tougher. 

There are four key aspects to pay attention to: 

  1. People. What leadership style does your organization favor? What is your company culture like? Are your employees engaged and productive in their work? 
  1. Processes. How do you carry out day-to-day tasks for the business in all areas, from logistics to sales to marketing? 
  1. Technology. Are you using the technology and software that will help you to meet your goals, or do you need to modernize and embrace digital transformation? 
  1. Customer service. How does your company treat its customers? Is your customer service as good as you’d like it to be, or is this an area for improvement? 

Understanding what is happening in these areas and how to optimize them is key to change management. However, there’s rarely a simple solution. 

How a consultancy can help
The uniqueness of every company is one of the main reasons it’s so important to work with qualified professionals when you’re undergoing transformation. A good consultancy will understand that every company has its own values, missions, and approach, and use that to improve their operations instead of trying to find a blanket solution to all their clients. 

They should also involve you in the process and offer a variety of options so you don’t feel pressured to go in one direction. The point of working with a third party isn’t being told what to do or being fitted to a mold — it’s about getting some outside perspective on where your blind spots are and what you’re missing. 

Leave Ikea for your house
This article isn’t about throwing shade at Ikea — their furniture has its place, and we’re sure the retailer’s millions of loyal customers would agree. However, no two companies are the same, so there’s no reason for them to apply the same approach. 

At Cornerstone Paradigm Consulting, we know how important it is for every business to retain what makes it special. We aim to leverage that uniqueness through our approach instead of stifling it. To find out more about how we can help you, contact us to book a free consultation.