The 2017 Blueprint of Successful Business Owners
Many entrepreneurs are experts in their craft. Whether it be mastering the perfect steak as a restaurant owner or opening the hottest wine bar in Chicago, all business owners are specialists in their designated areas. It takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill, but only 1 hour of entrepreneurship to know that you need a lot more than just your expertise to run and grow a business.
“You are not your resume, you are your work.”- Seth Godin, Author
When I became a business owner I thought the hours of skills I had required as a marketing executive at a Fortune 500 company, would give me enough experience to run a marketing agency. The irony that hit me was one simple truth: the minute you transition from being a skilled job performer to an owner, you spend little time on the skill that you became an expert in.
A minority of business owners are actually able to build their business into what they had originally envisioned. This causes very few businesses to survive past their first few years. Having a great product or service is vital, but you also need to be able to market that product or service while simultaneously running your business. The Bureau of Labor Statistics discovered that, “two-thirds of start up businesses will survive for 2 years, half of all businesses will survive 5 years, and only one-third survives for 10 years.” (Fundera)
When you become a business owner, your brain shifts. You find yourself spending more time focusing on how to build your company than on the skills that got you there. One book I suggest every business owner read is E-Myth by Michael Gerber. In this book, there is a story of a bakery owner who becomes disgruntled with her business. She opens a bakery because of her love for cooking, but reaches a point of resentment when her business becomes a pain rather than a passion. Many business owners experience this when they transition from being an expert in their skill to operating a business.
There are thousands of business owners that make this same mistake, but this can be avoided if they take the time to learn from others. We want to make the transition from skilled worker to business owner easier and give everyone the chance to succeed.
To do this, we’ve whittled down the hundreds of things business owners are masters at into The 5 Basic Skills of Business Ownership Success:
- Ability to Prioritize – not only demanding priorities for yourself, but your whole team. This will take “pig-headed” practice and determination.
Expert Tip: Spend Sunday evening getting your personal priorities in check, ranking them from level of effort and impact. The sweet spot should be high impact with medium effort. Then, share your priorities with your team on Monday morning. As you share, begin to request similar priority lists from your team and do a mid-morning huddle in the beginning of the week to get in order!
- Financial Acumen – running the financial books, payroll, tax implications; knowing your numbers, it all starts with your financials. The most important aspect of being a business owner is balancing revenue, expenses and cash flow!
Expert Tip: Devout a special day, such as Financial Friday, to keep up to date on your balance sheet so that you don’t delay it and get overwhelmed or prioritize it for a burning business issue.
- Magnified Customer Service – always look for ways to improve the customer experience and process. As an owner, spending at minimum an hour per week with your front line teams is imperative to having your pulse on customer experience. Especially if any processes are getting in the way of delivering your business promise to customers. There is no better time an owner can spend then with their people.
Expert Tip: Institute a monthly operations meeting with your top leaders to address processes that are limiting customer experience. Write them down as a team and prioritize based on level of effort and impact.
- Crystal Clear Communication – both your team and customers will hinge on your every word, so make them count. Communicate with a purpose and lead with the “why”. Every great coach, hero, and leader provides context to their communication. Explaining the “why” will lead to more motivated employees and create the buy-in you desperately need to keep focused on the business.
Expert Tip: Before communicating with employees and/or customers ask yourself – what is the goal of the communication and the “so-what”; so-what’s are a good barometer if your communication is worthwhile.
- Technology – no business today can exist without technology. Whether it’s Marketing Automation, CRM systems, Google Analytics, point of sale systems, customer reporting or inventory management – technology is a necessity. Navigating your way through tools, services, and their associated expenses is somewhat of a minefield for today’s business owner. Researching these technologies adds additional opportunity cost as you must devote time and energy into finding the right solutions to save yourself time and resources!
Expert Tip: Spend 1 hour per week on technology and tools will keep the ever evolving landscape of choices under control. I recommend a “start, stop, continue” method where you look at your current technologies and ask those three questions – what technologies do you need to start using, which ones do you stop using, and which ones do you continue? This method keeps you from always changing to the latest and greatest new tool and focuses on the tools that impact your business the most.
It takes more than just a few steps to grow your business, it’s a lifestyle change. Success doesn’t come easy.
“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”- Biz Stone, Twitter co-founder
I realized very quickly that running and growing the business is as important (if not more important) than having a great product or service. “In 2016, 28.8 million small businesses, accounted for 99.7% of US businesses.” (SBA Gov 2016) meaning that in order to succeed, business owners must thrive in their skills or they will fail.
I’d encourage you to build your business around the 5 basic skills of a business owner and continue to pursue your passions. Running a business is an ever evolving process, but the one thing that needs to remain constant is your passion.