Never has there been a better time to be an entrepreneur. You may or may not agree with that statement, but it’s true.
When you think about where you want to take your organization, do certain obstacles and barriers come to mind? After 18 years of working with hundreds of business owners and leaders from a broad variety of industries, I have discovered something about entrepreneurs. Most are frustrated by one or more of the following five ailments:
- Lack of control. You don’t feel you have enough control over your time, the market, or your company. Instead of controlling the business, the business is controlling you.
- People. You are frustrated with your employees, customers, vendors, or partners. They don’t seem to listen, understand you, or follow through with their commitments. You just can’t seem to get everyone on the same page.
- Profit. Simply put, there’s not enough of it.
- You’ve hit the ceiling. Growth has stopped. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to break through and get to the next level. You feel stuck, overwhelmed, and unsure of what to do next.
- The magic pills didn’t work. You’ve tried various strategies and quick-fix remedies. None have worked for long. As a result, your people have become numb to new initiatives. You’re spinning your wheels, and you need traction to move again.
It’s hard to be excited about being an entrepreneur when you aren’t succeeding at it, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can get a total grip on your business, gain better traction, and eliminate all of your frustrations. It starts with you taking responsibility. You must recognize that all of your problems stem from you. It’s not the market; it’s not your people; it’s not your customers; it’s you. When you achieve that shift in your thinking, you can then move forward to solve your problems and experience success. You are stepping onto the path to positive change and growth for your business.
The next step is to start seeing your business differently. Assuming you have the right, valuable product or service to offer the world, you must organize all of the many moving parts of your business into one complete system that consistently delivers that product or service with excellence. To help you do that, I suggest that you see your business as being made up of Six Key Components. As you focus on strengthening these Six Key Components, your business operating system will become complete, everything will start to work harmoniously, and all your obstacles, problems, and frustrations will be removed. The goal then is to become strong in all six: Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process, and Traction.
The Vision Component gets everyone in your organization 100 percent on the same page with where the organization is going and how it is going to get there. To strengthen your Vision Component, get your vision out of your head and onto paper by having your leadership team meet to answer these eight questions:
1. What are your core values?
2. What is your core focus?
3. What is your 10-year target?
4. What is your marketing strategy?
5. What is your three-year picture?
6. What is your one-year plan?
7. What are your quarterly Rocks?
8. What is your Issues List?
With your leadership team now completely on the same page, share your vision with the rest of your organization to get everyone moving together in the same direction.
The People Component assures that you are structured properly with only the seats necessary to deliver your product or service consistently with excellence. This component also assures that every person possesses your core values and is sitting in the right seat with the right skill set. To help strengthen your People Component, first determine what your core values are (Vision Component Question #1). These are the three to seven values, characteristics, or behavioral attributes that define your culture. These should be non-negotiable. Stay true to them. Hire, fire, review, reward, and recognize your people consistently around these core values. Then, build your Accountability Chart, making sure your company’s structure and all individual positions are clearly defined and understood by everyone. Once this is clear, make sure that everyone “gets” or understands his or her position, wants it, and has the capacity to do his or her job well.
The Data Component enables you to objectively manage your business through a small set of numbers, letting you have an accurate pulse of the business. To make the Data Component stronger, pick five numbers right now that you need to look at on a weekly basis to assure yourself that everything is on track in your business. If you can’t come up with a list, here are five metrics to start with: number of sales contacts, number of sales appointments, closed business, customer satisfaction, and gross margin. Set a weekly goal and assign someone to manage and be accountable for each number, and then start tracking them in a weekly spreadsheet. When a number is off-track, the accountable party must take appropriate action to get that number back on track. Keep 13 weeks for reference at a glance. Continue to refine this Scorecard as you move forward.
The Issues Component helps you to compartmentalize all issues in your organization and solve them effectively in order of priority at all levels. Unresolved issues drain your energy and are barriers to your moving forward. To strengthen the Issues Component, list all issues as they arise. Get them on paper. When you meet with your leadership team, rank the issues in order of declining priority and then follow the Issues Solving Track to resolve them in order of priority. Identify the underlying root cause of the issue. Discuss the best possible ways to resolve the issue. Solve the issue by selecting the best action steps to take to make the issue go away forever.
The Process Component aids you in identifying the six to 10 core processes that make up your business model and teaches you to document them in a simplified fashion, which must then followed by every single person in the company. To strengthen your Process Component, take a big step back and think about what your business model is and what its core processes are (e.g., HR, marketing, sales, operations, accounting, customer care). Document each of the core processes without too much detail, focusing on the major, essential steps within each process. Everyone can then be trained to follow the same procedures. This will reduce complexity, establish consistency, and allow you to scale your business.
The Traction Component assists you in creating a 90-Day World in your organization where everyone works to complete a small set of priorities. To do this, everyone needs to be on the same Meeting Pulse, with meetings that occur on the same day, at the same time, with the same agenda, always starting on time and ending on time. To improve your Traction Component, start by meeting with your leadership team to establish the three to seven most important priorities that must be accomplished over the next 90 days. Then meet weekly to stay on track with those priorities, solving any issues that arise. Repeat these steps every quarter, always learning from your performance in the previous quarter.
If you work to strengthen these Six Key Components, all of the obstacles and frustrations you have been facing can be overcome. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, simply pick one key component to focus on and strengthen it. Before you know it, you’ll build a solid, well-oiled machine and have a stronger business than you ever thought possible. Why not start now?