Should You Have A Blue-Print For Your Business?
I am in the early stages of a conversation around setting up a new business with some future partners. It’s an exciting proposition, but it also has me thinking about what is the best operating model for it, as we start to scale.
You see, one of the things I see time after time, is that having the best ideas will not always guarantee success.
You have to turn these ideas into a blue-print or plan, and then once you’ve done that, execute on the plan with both passion and discipline – no more, no less.
This starts with being organised in how you structure your business for success – even if you are a team of one and just starting out, let alone an existing business who has been around for a while.
But how do you know the best way to structure your business?
Also, does a one-size-fit-all approach work, or will you need to keep evolving as you scale, or as external conditions change?
Why Starting, Scaling & Sustaining A Business Is A Challenge
For example, as I think about this current business opportunity and future partners, I need to think about what do we need on day one. Because at this stage, there are so many unknowns, such as access to initial seed funding, market acceptance of our proposition and the time it will take to break-even and then be profitable, so we need to make sure we set this up the right way – and keep it that way!
But of course, I also know from previous experience that when you have your business up and running, and it is growing very fast, you also have to make a lot of decisions around where your resources go.
Like do not get me wrong, as this is a really nice challenge to have to deal with scaling rapidly, but the outcomes of your decisions at this stage will also have significant consequences further downstream.
Now I have spent a long professional career driving efficiencies and reducing cost in many companies around the world, so there is no surprise that I am always coming from a cost perspective (or bias) when setting up a business. So, the other potential complication when you do not structure your business the right way, is if you have to suddenly scale down for some reason.
This is a reality, and even the best plans need to change from time to time. Because if you have invested significantly say in capital, or signed up long term leases, or recruited individuals too early, to unwind all this, while it can be done, is a very difficult process to go through.
That is why there is always this fine balance that as a founder, or partner in a business, you are constantly needing to manage, in order to be sustainable.
The Four Steps To Structuring Your Business The Right Way
Now while there is no silver bullet to these possible scenarios or dilemmas you may find yourself in, I believe that if you follow these next four steps, it will place you in a much better position to set up and scale your business for success.
So, the first step you need to do, is to be clear on the end game. Now of course if you were Mark Zuckerberg back in his university dorm in 2004, it would be unlikely to have envisaged what Facebook is today! However, at least give thought to your direction. For example, if you are currently working from a spare bedroom in your parents’ house, maybe your vision is about having your own offices somewhere and perhaps beyond that, are several offices globally.
In parallel, you must come to terms that businesses do have specific capabilities required to ensure they run effectively. At The Startup Business, one of our accelerators is what we call “The Five Imperatives” which simply are: Strategy, Sales, Service, Support and Sustainability. In essence, The Five Imperatives is your organisational structure and method to frame your business from day one – even if you are doing everything yourself right now!
The next step you need to do, is recognise what you are good at currently and what you are not good at.
If you’re in a business of one, this might be an exercise of self-reflection, where you come to terms that your preference is about creating, and less about doing financial accounts. Or if you are in an existing business, you collectively come to the realisation that your business is awesome coming up with new innovative ideas, but you really suck as a business in day to day customer service.
Whatever it is, get a handle on it, as this step is about knowing your strengths and being real on your weaknesses – as the weaknesses are potentially your gaps, or even blind spots which can trip you over.
Step three therefore is the natural flow-on, as this is where you need to find ways to close these gaps.
This might be bringing in specific talent, or it might be looking at what technology can do for you, such as the use of Artificial Intelligence and Personal Assistants! Finally, you also need to consider the importance of partners, collaboration and outsourcing to expand your business in areas where you are not good at, or do not have the capacity to do so yourself.
Finally, the last step is putting together a road map. This is not a business plan – see it more of building your startup business operations structure.
How do you manage sales and marketing, how do you deliver the services, how do you keep the administration side of your business up to date and risk free? Each business will have their own specific needs, so you need to design what your startup business operations needs are.
Imagine Doubling The Size Of Your Business Every Month
Imagine doubling the size of your business every month in terms of cost, including the number of employees that you are bringing on. How many contracts do you think now have your signature on them… a lot!
Well this was a scenario for one of my clients some years back.
It was a crazy time for this tech / comms startup, and while they had the seed funding, it still in many ways was not a sure thing. However, within twelve months they had put together a global workforce of close to two thousand! The onboarding alone was a challenge and while the contracts provided my client maximum flexibility, it was their focus to balance the initial vision of their business and implementing a structure, followed by best of breed technology and partnering, that allowed them to scale in such a way.
Be Clear On Where You Want To Take Your Business
Of course, your situation will be different for your business, but it’s the principles, or steps you need to take that remain the same.
So, follow these four steps as well, become clear on your intent or vision as to where you want to take your business, then discover what’s currently working and what’s not working for you, and importantly what you need to do in order to close the gaps, then create and implement the road map. This will make a big difference for you!
It’s All About Working On Your Business
Also, this does not need to be complicated. You do not even need to get consultants to come into your business to help you with this either! It’s just about stepping back, letting go of bias, challenging perhaps old paradigms and then structuring your business the right way for success!
As Michael Gerber, author of the eMyth says…
You Need To Work On Your Business And Not In Your Business