Knowing where a business is and where it needs to be, forms only the start understanding this week’s topic. The ideal cycle of business has an owner, that is, a person or persons, who are responsible for the business as an entity and who have taken on the risk for operating that business. The owner then invests time to build a team, who in turn, services the business’ customers, providing revenue for the business and dividends back to the owner. This can be simply depicted in the following diagram:
The cycle of business above can be explained further by Michael E. Gerber in his book the E-Myth Revisited when he stated that he views the business “as a network of seamlessly integrated components, each contributing to some larger pattern that comes together in such a way as to produce a specifically planned result, a systematic way of doing business” (Gerber M. E. p72)1.
Typically businesses, and in particular small businesses, have this cycle in mind when they begin, and have an understanding of how the business is currently operating, employing a team and dreaming of where they would like for the business to go in the future. Unfortunately for many owners, they remain stuck at this juncture. Often this is because the owner or owners are still working as part of the team, for example, servicing the customers, and can therefore only grow to the sum total of their time, which in this case, is predominantly spent with customers.
The cycle of business is where most business owners want to be because it means they can work ON their business, looking at ways to grow it, nurture talent within it, and find additional areas of revenue and profitability. However as is often the case, owners have difficulty reaching this goal because they are still working IN their business by being a “team member”, if not being the best team member, servicing the customers directly (when they have employed a team already to do that job). To transition away from working as a team member, an owner ultimately is required to fire themselves and step away from daily activities.
So, how can an owner successfully build a business they can no longer work directly in? What are the roles and responsibilities that business owners need know so they can still work ON their business?
It all starts and ends with the Team
LeBron James, the three-time NBA Championship winner and Most Valuable Player explained his view on teamwork by saying “I think, Team First. It allows me to succeed, it allows my team to succeed.” This thinking is exactly the same for a business. The team that an owner has employed is the most valuable group that will drive the business forward. They service the customers, they provide ideas on better ways to sell more products to customers, they communicate what the market needs to know about the company and they provide the profits. These are very good reasons why owners should be investing their time into their teams. The role then, of the owner becomes clearer, it becomes that of a Leader.
A newly transitioned Leader takes on different roles and responsibilities including:
- Cultivating the right mix of people to fit the roles within the business;
- Detailing the expectations of each role;
- Reviewing and training the team;
- Finding new innovations and ways to develop higher profits, and
- Developing and communicating where the business needs to go next.
If in the above example, the owner had difficulty moving away from being a star sales performer, perhaps it was time to replicate. That is, detail exactly what it is that makes the owner an excellent sales closer - they could be simply selling satisfaction2 - whatever it may be, teach and transfer those skills to the Team. Making not one, but multiple excellent sales closers. The point of the exercise therefore takes us back to the Cycle of Business - where the owner turns their focus to the Team and what they can do to grow and support them.
Choose a destination
The second part of the Cycle of Business is in the Planning. A team who is competent, ready, trained and able to handle customers is all well and good, but they will lack the motivation to keep going when they have no idea where the business is heading. That is why its important for to business owners to focus on building a great team and creating a plan of action.
The business owner (who is now a Leader), is required to develop a vision and communicate that to the team. The vision will clearly explain the business’ values (what it stands for) and more importantly, where the business sees itself going (its ultimate destination). The owner can then translate this vision into practical terms through manageable goals and steps showing how the business will achieve those goals.
Initially in the planning process, it can be quite overwhelming to write down a large exhaustive list of every single action that springs to mind, therefore it is recommended to find widely used time management or planning tools3 that focus on short term goals. When plans are used in a shorter time period, such as 90 days, it is much easier to commit to and complete them. Sharing the vision and this shorter term plan with the whole business gives everyone much needed clarity and motivation to know their efforts are contributing to the bigger, more exciting picture.
Starting at the end
Understanding where the business sits after a cycle of 90 days becomes an invaluable tool for shaping and developing a business. The business Leader can determine what’s been achieved and why, and re-evaluate personal and professional goals. The planning process may reveal the need for further systems to support the business, such as customer payment gateways or project management systems. Whatever the need the owner now has the ability to keep control of the business through the planning process and use it as a powerful motivating tool. Beginning at the end of each planning cycle creates better, more memorable milestones and allows the owner to celebrate the previous achievements with all the team.
- Gerber, M. E. 1995. (p72) The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to do About It. HarperCollins. New York, USA.
- Beckwith, H. (p 201) What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business. Warner Books Inc. New York, USA.
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