Entrepreneurship is often portrayed as a cavalier lunge through to success and depicted as the ONE person/individual overcoming the odds! So what are the real chances of success? There is a dismal record of business failure within the first three years in the Small Business sector and in my professional practice I have also seen first-hand, a similar track record for project management in Large Corporates.
So what to do?
It is about building and thriving in a network and collaboration, which could be informal. How to thrive is building key partnerships and using knowledge share.
Microsoft Case study
Bill Gates started out with a team of (and immense contribution) of Steven Ballmer and Peter Allen which is often overlooked in the growth of Microsoft (MS). The company went through a crisis when Netscape was the predominant browser while MS did not have an Internet strategy. Bill had to be given an ultimatum by his partners to rework MS focus. As the Lean Startups would say,” they learnt to pivot!”
I can remember an interesting article, based on some study, that the ideal team is 2 men and women (the Lady to keep them grounded!) but certainly there is more to it than this.
The business owner (SME category) most often drive themselves in to a bunker mentality and isolate (or protect) themselves from external influences (disturbances). This has given rise to the “Business Coach” syndrome which unfortunately comes with it’s own downside. The panacea often given is a checklist which can cause the business owner to lose focus on their innate ability to grow the business.
And the upside?
As a relatively new comer to the Business Coach scene, although technically proficient, I have asked myself where best to add value to the business. My perception is that this comes down to style and communications. The “Business Growth” term has been hyped and there are some misconceptions to this reality. My take to business owners is that practical aspect of growth does not apply to all aspects of the business.
Caveats for business growth
The view of business growth should hinge on the strand that pertains to your vision
- Do this simply to stay competitive.
- Do this and avoid taking on extra personnel
- Do this through a franchise system using your Intellectual property
- Do this by taking on partners to complement your speciality
- Do this by being taken over by a bigger company that complements your offering
The list does go on so hope you get my drift (see I told you, there is always some checklist!).
Refresh your Business Model
Obviously, the bee in my bonnet is about how you can go about to increase your profit margin and refresh your business model. At inception and to have a viable structure in place, and placate the Bankers, a viable business plan is necessary but as the business proceeds the external context changes, e.g. political, economic, social etc., all encapsulated in the PESTLE framework.
This, in my opinion, is the stage where the business coach adds value. My mantra being that “If you don’t adapt to change then change will meet you headlong”. The byword of this being Kodak, Blockbuster and a plethora of other companies.
The Magic Wand
However the Coach does not have the magic wand and this where the buy-in of the business owner comes in. They have to be firm about the vision and culture they maintain for their firm and communicate this best to the Coach. This certainly is where the scope is built and how the business strategy will evolve around the business model.
Keep it Moving!
While my experience spans the past two decades and cuts across a breadth of sectors, i.e. Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Banking and Information Technology, I have made efforts at times to be a business owner which was not sustainable. This was mostly because my critical and strategic strengths (insights) simply played past my “people strengths” and communication skills.
I have had the experience of working alongside entrepreneurs and have been very grateful for this because the “real ones” are people focused with great emotional intelligence and staying power. And to them I simply say …”keep it Moving!”.