Plan your business around how you want it to be, not for how it is now. A business is built, like our life, for better or worse by our own thoughts put into action.
I have owned a poorly conceived business, a business that trapped me as though it was a dead-end job. I have also developed a great business after following these steps, which are based on what I have learned on this entrepreneur journey to build the business I’ve always wanted.
You - At the core of any great business you will find one person who had the idea to create something unique and remarkable that they believe is better than what is currently available in the market place. Are you ready to be that person? Are you mentally prepared to take on the challenges that will soon weigh on you as the center of your business?
What maintains one vice would bring up two children – or build a business
We all have our vices, shortcomings and stumbling blocks, its different for each person. Have you learned to control or overcome these areas of your life? What maintains one vice would bring up two children – or build a business. Maybe you shop too much, spend too much, or you tried to quit smoking and couldn’t, this money could be going to help you build your business. Or you like to go out when you should be working. A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two different things – laziness is leisure prior to your work being completed. This isn’t to say you can’t have fun or relax, as long as work is your priority and the time when you should be working is reserved for this purpose.
"The first and most seductive, and the destroyer of most young men, is the drinking of liquor. I am no temperance lecturer in disguise, but a man who knows and tells you what observation has proved to him, and I say to you that you are more likely to fail in your career from acquiring the habit of drinking liquor than from any, or all, the other temptations likely to assail you." - Andrew Carnegie, The Road To Business Success
If you haven’t put yourself in check and overcome these areas of your life that tempt your resolve, you will not have a stable foundation on which to build a successful business. You have to become the core, both as an example to your employees and clients of what is possible, but also using this centered strength to make it through the challenges of owning a business.
Examine yourself and determine those things in your life that are holding you back, a true assessment, without the excuses. Fix these things first, only then are you ready to put your thoughts into action to develop your business.
..a true assessment, without the excuses.
Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. Much of what we do or become in life is based on what we believe we are capable of doing. You first have to have a vision of what you want your business to become, start with the end in mind. It is important to have this vision fixed in your mind while you’re dealing with the daily functions of making it happen.
Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.
Have you ever started a project or business and at some point said “this is not how it was supposed to be”? This vision is what keeps you on target and guides your way to making it a reality. A business without a guiding vision is lost before it even begins. I am not referring to a “mission statement”, I am talking about the vision that keeps you up at night, the “idea” that popped into your head that started you down this path. Preserve it, write it down, staple it to your forehead, whatever it takes to make you never forget.
Start with the end in mind.
You must have a moat. Do you have a competitive advantage? What is it that makes your idea for a company better then anyone else’s? To be successful in a competitive market place you must have a moat. An aspect of your company, product or service that a competitor can’t duplicate. This can exist in many forms. It could take the form of a patent, which prevents competitors from coping your design. It may be the brand you have built (think Coke, Harley-Davidson), which people believe is the best of breed – you can only get this here. There has to be some type of advantage that protects you in the same way a moat protects a castle.
“In business, I look for economic castles protected by unbreachable 'moats'.” -Warren Buffett.
Once this is established, always be mindful of the possible invention of flight – the moat has worked great, until the air-raid bombing campaign begins. Meaning, don’t lose sight of the many ways a competitor can storm your castle.
Plan your business around how you want it to be, not for how it is now. Planning for growth and the size or nature of the type of company you want to build should always be your focus. Planning can take many different forms, it can be based around who you hire or where you locate an office. Example, is the person you hired to load a few trucks qualified to supervise your future warehouse? If not will you offer a training program that makes this possible? Because if that person stays onboard, two years from now, they will know more about your distribution center then the guy you just hired as his new boss.
Strategic planning consists of evaluating a business to determine its current position based on the vision of what it is meant to become. A vision to open a bakery and offer the best bread in town is very different then a vision to offer the best bread to the county as a whole. They may start with the same recipe, but will require very different plans to put the vision into action.
Two Bakeries - They may start with the same recipe, but will require very different plans to put the vision into action.
If you are to be your own Master be ashamed to find yourself idol.
Working for yourself or starting your own company requires a discipline like no other. No one is forcing you to get up on time or be anywhere at a set time other than meetings and schedules you set for yourself. Guarding your time from friends and family can prove more difficult because you get to decide when and where you work. This freedom comes with a cost; a reasonability to manage your time efficiently. If you are to be your own Master be ashamed to find yourself idol.
You have to be willing to do the things you don’t want to do. “Why are successful men able to do things they don't like to do while failures are not? Because successful men have a purpose strong enough to make them form the habit of doing things they don't like to do in order to accomplish the purpose they want to accomplish.” - The Common Denominator of Success
Be willing to do the things you don’t want to do.
Ideas on how to move forward often come from the process itself; don’t wait on the sidelines for inspiration. Jump and grow wings on the way down. This means you may not have the right answer, but it will be developed as you move forward with the process of developing the company. An important balance is to be maintained between focusing on the plan to achieve your vision, while still keeping an open mind on ways to get there. This involves a lot of research, trial and error, hard work and determination to move forward after a setback or work without instruction other than your own.
Remember, those who will not be counseled, cannot be helped. Know when you have reached your limit of knowledge and take advise from those experienced in the field. In doing so, don’t take advise from a brick maker about fine jewels or vise versa.
Build it and they will come doesn’t work for most business models. The question you have to answer is how exactly are you going to get people to walk though your door and purchase what you are selling? What’s the hook that is going to make them come to you over your competition? This question gets overlooked and easily dismissed with phrases like “better customer service” and “lower prices”. Both are meaningful in their own right, but they are not a formulated plan on how you are going to market your products and services with any meaningful impact on the consumer. Are you going to cold call potential clients, buy TV commercials, send girls around town on roller-skates – what’s the plan? Will you do any focus group research (even if its just with friends and family at the very least) before spending thousands of dollars advertising?
Build a brand, test your product, get feedback, adapt and make changes prior to the outlay of expenses.
The reason so many business owners fail to effectively use their marketing dollars is because the message and the method is fragmented and scattered. – Jacob Cane
Every aspect of the process and procedure to complete needed tasks should be documented. Once documented, these processes should be setup in easy to follow guides for each position in the company. This may seem boring and tedious, or a bit too much like the faceless businessman wearing a bowler hat. If you want your company to have any real value, it is necessary. Think of it this way, if the company were to be sold in the future, what would they be buying? They can’t buy your brain or the knowledge in it unless it is documented and in a usable format for others to follow.
If the company were to be sold in the future, what would they be buying?
These procedures MUST be open for review and revision at all times, so that they can be improved upon. This doesn’t mean they can be ignored, but there should be a process that allows them to change and improve as new techniques develop. The last dying words of a company are often we have always done it that wayyyyy!
The other aspect of systemization has to do with automation of any and all processes within the company to which it can be applied. FedEx or Wal-Mart is the best example of this type of innovation.
FedEx isn’t successful because they have the most planes or the fastest trucks; they have to go the speed limit just like everyone else. FedEx is successful because they automated the process of delivering a package on time that can be tracked at any point in the process. The systemization of the delivery business is their competitive moat.
The last dying words of a company are often we have always done it that wayyyyy!
Wal-Mart isn’t successful because people love to shop there or because they have great customer service, normally you can’t even find an employee. Wal-Mart is successful because they systemized the process of inventory management to ensure that millions of products get to the right store when they are needed for customers to purchase.
The process and methods you are using now; would it work if you had one hundred times more clients, employees, or space? The vision you have and the systems you create need to be scalable. Automating a process is one thing, but creating a process that can sustain growth is quite another and important to take into consideration.
The vision you have and the systems you create need to be scalable.
Example, you are certainly having customers register for an event on a paper registration form and then paying an employee to enter the data into a database that tracks the number attending. This information is then used to determine a number of factors for the event. Currently you are only managing one event at one venue. What would be the bottleneck in the system if you expanded to ten cities with a total of fifty venues averaging ten thousand attendees per event? You have a system setup that is dependent on a few people entering the information for half a million people! Your system is now broken. What if the registration was being done online and being entered directly into the database or entered by the attendee on a tablet at an informational booth. Either of these solutions would have eliminated the bottleneck. Consider “what if” scenarios when setting up your systems.
Consider “what if” scenarios when setting up your systems.
A test of any good company is what happens if you, the owner is gone. Have you built a company or a job? This doesn’t apply to professional service companies where the talent and their billable hours is the product. In this case, have you built a business or a practice that would allow another professional to take your place? Or have you cocooned yourself into every aspect of the company?
Have you built a company or a job?
All of these steps build on the idea that you are creating a business from a vision, based on a plan that is systemized with scalable automation built by hard work, all of which is sustainable. For this to be true, the company has to be able to exist without you at some point. Include this in your plans, along with the rest of the steps and you will have built the company you have always wanted.