For twenty years I have analyzed successful small businesses and I have asked a lot of questions from these companies that I have worked with. My goal has always been to find the common denominator that I can apply to my own simple small businesses and to help other entrepreneurs like myself.
I have uncovered something that, although may not be new to some, was revolutionary to me. I came to realize that all simple small businesses succeeded because they recognized that success comes from not one, but three different minds. This Trilogy of minds requires someone to CREATE the work, someone to GET the work and someone to DO the work!
Even when entrepreneurs discover this little secret they may not understand that these pillars must be built in this specific order. In other words, someone who has a love for something may build it or sculpt it (DO the work) and then look for a buyer only to discover that no one is buying. This is an example of doing things out of order.
At one of the businesses I co-own, we have Terry, who loves to sell and market. Many times, while on the phone to past or potential clients, she has begun selling a product that is still in our testing and development stage. With Terry, it is sometimes like trying to hold back a wild horse. The confidence that she has in our staff’s ability to create a finished product that we can all be proud of is flattering, but it puts a lot of pressure on the developers. This of course is her sneaky little plan I suspect, but it is putting the cart before the horse. She knows the power of using fear to motivate our staff, but it is also a risky way to do things.
Wearing all three hats, or minds if you will, is the order of things for most simple small businesses and start ups. This is also the reason for such a high rate of failure. You simply cannot focus one hundred percent on each pillar at the same time. More importantly and ironically is you need to be very good at all three at the same time. It is, however, natural to have a greater talent or interest in one of the pillars than the others.
Allow me to clarify each of the pillars a little more:
CREATE the work! Developing the systems and tools to produce your product or to provide your service. When it comes to physical products this can include creating the packaging, logos, and developing the distribution network. This can also mean R&D, testing, outsourcing, producing printed material, etc.
GET the work! This means selling and everything that is involved in getting orders and getting paid! Believe it or not, most entrepreneurs hate to sell. Forget the old saying about building a better mouse trap. The inferior mouse trap wins every time if there is a great salesman pushing it.
Creating advertising, knocking on doors, setting up websites, going to trade shows and networking are all part of this pillar. This also encompasses taking and tracking orders, scheduling jobs, delivering the product or service and collecting the money.
DO the work. Producing the product or delivering the service. It can be serving or cooking the food, welding the structure or hammering the nail. Every business must have a product or service and someone has to produce the product or do the service work.
Trying to wear all three hats at the same time is impossible. Find your forte and focus on that pillar. Find others with a passion to focus on the other two pillars. You do not have to be partners with these other specialist. The other pillars of your company can be another simple small business, outsourcing firms or freelancers.
(see the follow up article “The 3 Columns of Simple Small Business Success“)