At its base, business is simple. You provide a service, produce a product, sell something. That’s all there is. The complicated part is doing that profitably. It isn’t rocket science but it does take knowledge. A knowledge you can’t necessarily get from a single class, workshop, or seminar, a book, or reading somebodies “Best Business Tips to Grow Your Business By” article.
Running a business profitably takes knowledge and it takes constant improvement of that knowledge. What do you need knowledge on? I call them the 10 basic pillars of business. Do these well and your business will thrive. These are:
- Product or Services – manages material (inventory and raw), cost of providing/producing, supply chain (process)
- Production or Service Management – Quality, error elimination
- Marketing – Research, Cost, lead generation
- Sales – closing new 1st-time business, sales contract management
- Customer Service – Order management, Order processing, upselling
- Customer Retention – retention (sales with existing customers), customer recovery
- Workforce Strategy – Engagement, strategy execution, performance, recruiting and retention of “A” players
- Waste Management – waste reduction, productivity, efficiency
- Finance – performance, cash flow, profit
- Execution – getting it done all the time
Every one of these has an equal and important contribution to your business. Over emphasize or focus too much on anyone and the entire system goes out of whack or balance. The last thing any business needs is to be out of whack or balance.
Each of the 10 areas takes time to learn and no one expects a business owner to be an expert at all of these. No external force can sit down and motivate you to do this by having you determine what you will do. It is obvious that you aren’t the total expert, that you need more than a pep talk; you need education, tools, and training.
So Whats Available to Help You
You need to get your information from a variety of sources. Certainly educational institutions are a good selection, however, their programs and tools, while having value, are a one size fits all process that most likely will not fully meet your unique needs. Many communities have groups that offer free advice and counsel, some of these can be quite good, many of thee are individuals who haven’t remained current in business trends, processes or even the forces that truly impact a business. Further, the individual you may get to help you may not be as engaged as you would hope. There are business coaches who will, through their methods, get you to develop your own solutions. However, few of these will actually provide you with the training, tools or other resources you need with which to develop your own solutions. Most are great conversationalists who you will like but their personality will rarely improve your business. Accountants are great for telling you what you have done, they have a good picture of your past performance and can keep you compliant with the many different tax laws that are both overwhelming and sometimes paralyzing for businesses. Consultants and Business Advisors can provide you with education, tools, training and what is sometimes referred to as workforce multipliers. Few have the ability to actually provide you with all of the assistance you need and fewer still will admit that. They also are not free, nor should they be. If they can’t articulate the value of your investment with them, then they are not a good resource.
Some will read that paragraph and think, no one is here to help me. That is not true. The message is simple. Your ongoing development of the Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Experience, and Behaviors needed to successfully operate your business will involve most of those that are mentioned above. The day you stop using most of them is the day you start the path to the end of your business’s existence. At a minimum, you need the Accountant, Business Advisor/Consultant. Th next priority would be the academic programs. If you are a start-up with limited funds the resources of a government-sponsored or recommended free resource may be a good idea. Just don’t rely on these for long-term growth and sustainability. If you need an emotional boost a business coach would be a good way to spend some time and some may actually even help your business.
What About Other Business Processes
Is there more? What about HR, an IT function, Payroll, and similar activities. Until your business grows above 50 employees these types of things are best left as outsourced partners. Even then they may not be in the best interest of your business until you arrive above 200-300 employees. Give very careful thought to using ego as the reason for having any of these on your payroll. Their cost far exceeds the value they bring.
At its base, business is simple. You provide a service, produce a product, sell something. That’s all there is. The complicated part is doing that profitably. It isn’t rocket science but it does take knowledge. Finding help, the right kind of help places your business in the ranks of those that succeed and flourish. You leave behind those who just get by or fail. Remember, it’s your business, But I believe you want it to flourish.