Both words can trigger emotional states inside us, just by thinking about them. In fact as science shows, what we think and dwell on, can actually manifest into daily reality. So quickly now think of a pink elephant!
Great, now you have done that, what about business? What do those words conjure up in your mind?
Well there are numerous statistics on business success and failure you can get your hands on if you just spend five minutes searching on Google. One of these is from Forbes, where they state a reason for business failure is the inability to establish a profitable business model.
From my own experience, it is also that many startups and entrepreneurs have not structured their business in a way that allows them to be commercial and thereby impeding them to be scalable and ultimately sustainable.
Of course there are many aspects to business structure and include, but not necessarily limited to:
- Legal Structure
- Financial Structure
- Operational Structure
We will leave Legal Structure and Financial Structure for another time, because today I want to focus on Operational Structure as I think this is the area that helps startups and entrepreneurs get “their head” around in the early days, meaning they can visualise how their business can work – the mechanics.
You see, what I have discovered over my years in business, conducting research and working with some of the most successful entrepreneurs, is that there are actually five fundamental critical success strategies or imperatives, which you need to have in place if you are to have a successful business today.
When you have these five imperatives in place with the right focus and in the right balance your confidence of taking your unique skills and passions into a business will increase because you will have an overarching framework or blue print to go by.
When you have these five imperatives in place, you will know how to scale-up as your business grows and importantly when to start scaling up with minimal risk and overhead.
So what are these five imperatives you need to have in place if you are to have a successful business?
The First Imperative
If you have this in place, with the right focus and with the right balance, it will ensure your personal motivations for setting up a business are aligned to the overall business direction.
Of course I am talking about STRATEGY. STRATEGY is about being clear on the why. STRATEGY is also about defining your niche. Who you want as your ideal client – your client avatar and the SOLUTIONS that you will provide to solve your client’s problems. If I was to use a metaphor, STRATEGY is the brain. STRATEGY, when done right, is about you becoming empowered.
The Second Imperative
STRATEGY alone is not sufficient. You also need something else. When you have this, your offerings, products and services will be accessible to your desired clients.
I am talking about SALES or Marketing and SALES. This is about defining the channels that you communicate to your desired clients. It is about generating interest, not just passive, but creating overwhelming curiosity and having the intel or information to measure your impact. SALES therefore is the life force of your business. SALES when done right, is about you being effective.
The Third Imperative
Having STRATEGY and SALES without this next imperative means you do not have a business. This imperative is so powerful in that, when you have it, your business will be able to scale-up as your impact or revenue grows – nor will not be that tension between SALES and the ability to service growth.
And what I am talking about is SOLUTIONS. This is where you create, produce, manufacture, supply and service your ideal clients. It is about leveraging the latest technologies the best operating models… whenever, where ever. SOLUTIONS are the heart of your business. SOLUTIONS are about you being efficient.
The Fourth Imperative
Next to STRATEGY, SALES and SOLOUTIONS this next one is often overlooked and when it is, it is to the detriment of the business – but in my view it is critical.
What I am referring to is SUPPORT. This is where you take a commercial view from day one and that you have the right approach and financial acumen in place. You are connecting with the right people through partnerships. And you are embracing ongoing learning through coaches and mentors so that you are continually stepping up to the next level. If SOLUTIONS are the heart, then SUPPORT is the skeleton of your business it needs to be strong and when it is it keeps you engaged.
The Fifth Imperative
Lastly, as equally important as the preceding four, this imperative is about sustaining your business into the future and leaving a legacy.
What I am talking about here is having SYSTEMS. SYSTEMS that scan the future for trends, opportunities and threats. SYSTEMS that take you from where you are now to where you want to be. SYSTEMS that propel your forward with momentum. If you do not have effective SYSTEMS in your business, then it may be that your business today will not be sustainable. SYSTEMS are the sensors. SYSTEMS keep you evolving.
SALES, SOLUTIONS and SUPPORT are generally more tangible in most startups and entrepreneurs minds however without STRATEGY and SYSTEMS, it is where they are likely to come unstuck. So ensuring you implement these five imperatives is key.
Once you start defining your business under these five imperatives, you can start to align capability needs, functions, activities and resources. Even if you are just starting out as a business of just one person, you, this framework will be the foundation that you are building your legacy on.