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The Shoelace Decision


Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 in Small Business Today Articles

When I first started my career someone gave me advice that it looked more professional and projected a better image if you wore shoes that tied vs. shoes that were slip on.  It might have been psychological mumbo jumbo, but I have taken it to heart and worn shoes that lace up for over three decades. 

Once my children learned how to tie their own shoes, it seems like all they wore were shoes that tied.  As a side note, it was our daughter Jenni who taught her youngest brother Ben how to tie his own shoes after we as parents were unable to do so.  But I digress.  It seems like my kids wore out their shoes before they wore out the shoelaces.  So when we got rid of those worn out, smelly shoes, we removed the shoelaces.  From there we used the shoelaces to wrap up unruly sleeping bags, extension cords and things that just needed to be tied together.  We had a shoebox in the garage, containing nothing but old shoestrings.  Odd, but it works for us.

But not all shoestrings were useful past their shoes.  Son Ted seemed to have the most problems as it seems the strings on his basketball shoes broke at the most inconvenient times.  I think he gets that trait from me because as I was getting ready to get for work the other day, a string on one of my work shoes was on the verge of breaking.  Because I have a wife that might have been a boy scout in previous life, she had replacement laces ready to go for me.  After I got to the bank, I took the first opportunity to switch out the bad lace for a brand new one.

Everything was right with the universe when I realize that I had to make a decision.  On one shoe was a brand new lace, on the other was a perfectly good, albeit used shoelace.  Do I switch out the second shoe so that the laces match perfectly?  Or do I go with the functional lace that nobody will ever know wasn’t a perfect mate?  Then I wondered if I was the only one that worried about using $2.00 shoelaces.

As small business owners and managers we are occasionally faced with the decision whether or not to replace a perfectly functioning piece of equipment for a new and improved model.  What decision making process do you have in place?  Do you have a cost/benefit analysis system to use to help make that decision?  What if you are on the sales side of the equation?  Do you have a cost/benefit analysis system ready to help your customer make a decision?  I am not talking about helping someone decide if they should use a new $1 shoelace.  I am talking about looking at the variables that could help you or your customer save money or improve efficiency so that they can make more profit.

So what does this analysis look like?  It starts with knowing what is most important to you and your customer.  What value does this new equipment add?  If you do not have a decision matrix or cost/benefit analysis system in place, you are probably making decision based on a gut reaction, and while that might be OK, it is always best to confirm your gut with logic.

Back at my shoelace decision, I decided to keep the extra shoelace in my desk drawer, just in case another lace broke when I was at work, which is I mostly wear shoes where those laces will work.  Plus I figured I saved $1!

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