For those who have ventured into owning a business, good luck! I mean that seriously, not facetiously. It takes a special person to commit to becoming a successful entrepreneur. There are just so many darn details that can overwhelm you.
And, once you get past the start-up phase, you turn to a growth phase. Then as you grow, you might really begin to “take off”, meaning your brand has legs and is gaining momentum. Order counts increase, opportunities open up. Expansion looms large. Then you might actually reach the enterprise stage. This is where your little idea now starts to look like a larger corporate environment with layers of management, staffing, and facility.
[A tip of the coaching hat to Lane Sloan, my friend, and colleague who named these stages.]
While you may get focused on doing things within each of these stages, there are four critical areas to consider at every stage. As the company grows and changes, your answers to key questions will change. But the questions remain sorted in 4 ways.
People – Process – Product – Performance.
Call them buckets, pillars, quadrants, or whatever suits your way of thinking. Regardless of how you think about these 4 themes, there are critical issues to address inside each one. The more work you, as the owner, will do, the more you can find success for long-term growth and saleability of your business.
I like to think of it in a baseball context – i.e. Cover Your Bases. To score a run in baseball, you have to touch all 4 bases. So too is it with a business. You need good answers to the questions that arise in each of these 4 areas. You will have a winner if you build a business that can effectively cover all four bases.
Let’s break it down.
Having a staff is a big part of building a scalable business. You as the owner can never do it all. As soon as things start to move, grow and change, you will need to add people. Let me be blunt here. Adding people will create challenges for you. Some might even be called problems.
This is exactly why having a People category in your business framework is so vital. Identify the right people at the right time, doing the right things, and VOILA! You see success. Yet that is far easier said than done.
People management starts with defining the jobs you need to be filled. First-time entrepreneurs frequently get this wrong. Friends and family get hired simply to lend a hand. There is no structure to roles and responsibilities, much less alignment of skills and abilities. That might be fine for the first 30 days, but you will need to get much more serious about the people plan you need.
A standard operating process is needed. This we call scalability. You cannot scale something that has no process. Your process may involve technology and equipment. That is fine. But the way you expect things done drives the quality of the output. It helps build your brand.
A process can be measured, evaluated, refined, and optimized. Optimization is where you create profit margin for your business. But if you have no process at all, you’re just a bunch of people showing up to burn time and money.
The process category includes all processes like sales and marketing, fulfillment, customer service, R&D, manufacturing, production, etc.
Product (or Service) –
The “thing you do” fits here. You need to properly define what it is that you make or sell. The thing needs its own identity, we call it a brand. You then need to manage everything associated with selling the thing.
Markets will change. Today your idea may be an automatic homerun. But tomorrow the market can change and run away from your product/service.
I’ve also seen owners create products that ultimately serve no meaningful value to the market. If your product does that, think again. You have to stay ever-aware of how the market is perceiving and receiving your product offering. What once was a great idea may have lived its meaningful life.
We cannot talk about business success without knowing how to keep score, watch profits, and follow plans. Performance includes the financial aspects of the company (cash flows and income statements), KPI/OKR, periodic plan reviews to see how things are tracked, budgets, and planning.
Goals, targets, objectives, and expectations must be known so that decisions can be made that are financially and operationally effective.
Like all of the other areas, performance encompasses many aspects of the business. Knowing what to track to gauge your success allows for course corrections and adjustments so that you can maximize the opportunities that come to you.
I’ve been coaching business owners this way since my early days in banking. I saw far too many companies with great product ideas fail because of some gap in one of these areas. Sometimes the failure was due to an owner simply not knowing what should be done next to allow the natural growth trajectory (see above).
Other times it was due to missing pieces somewhere within one or more of these areas. I started tracking the reasons companies were falling short of their otherwise awesome potential.
I structure the results into a comprehensive, deep-dive program. I call it, guess what? Cover Your Bases
In the program, we follow a well-engineered framework to address everything you need to know about each area so you too can optimize and streamline your business. It’s a 12-week course designed to help busy owners find the right answers to the gaps and hidden potential that may be right in front of them.
I’ve had clients 2x or 3x their business during the first 12 to 24 months after learning my program.
A new cohort is opening this Spring, starting April 1. If you want to learn more, click below.
You can be wildly successful with your business. It takes having a framework and a plan to get there. Actually, it’s a kind of disciplined thinking about what you want your business to be. Join me in my next program to get all of the details right.
Once you know my Cover Your Bases way of thinking about your business, you’ll feel far less hassled, frustrated, and burned out. Plus you will actually get time back to live the life you want.