The Smith Report - Operational Playbooks

13 Myths About Entrepreneurship

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  1. It’s all about profitability. It’s not. It’s about positive cash flow. You go bust through lack of cash, not profit.
  2. Websites are the responsibility of marketing people. Wrong. Today the website is the responsibility of the CEO. Most websites are a disjointed, verbose, inward facing version of your story. Simplify your story and focus on outcomes you achieve for customers.
  3. Innovation is all about thinking outside the box. Wrong. The most successful innovation involves tweaking existing products in the marketplace.
  4. Growth is the same as scaling. Wrong. Lots of companies grow but fail to scale. Scaling implies growth, alignment, predictability, control and safety.
  5. Around 50% of companies are small. Wrong. Defining small as 99 people or less means that 99.9% of the 27.3 million enterprises in the US are small. Only 110,000 businesses employ 100 people or more.
  6. In sales, customers know what they need; it’s your job to deliver it. Wrong. Customers can be unclear and wrong about their needs; your job is to do a good diagnosis (Jeff Thull).
  7. We go to work for money. It’s our highest priority. Wrong. The research supports three priorities ahead of money – Autonomy (the right to own your job), Mastery (the right to get better at what you do), Purpose (the need to connect what we do with a higher purpose). (Daniel Pink in his book Drive).
  8. Big companies will almost always win against a smaller competitor. Wrong. For each specific deal, the probability of winning is related to the unique fit of skills required between buyer and seller, price point relative to the outcome desired, and the relationship between the parties. We often wrongly equate size to success.
  9. Building a business to sell it one day, is all about size – being big enough to attract a buyer. Wrong. No matter how large you become, you will probably fail to exit the business if the business is: owner dependent, reliant on a few customers, filled with legacy products or is showing weak growth prospects.
  10. Most employees enjoy their job and are engaged in their company. Apparently not. In the US and Canada a shocking 71% of employees are not actively engaged in their role and job according to the most recent Gallup survey. (On average the figure is 87% worldwide)
  11. Most owners sell out eventually for a multi million dollar pay day. Wrong. The median price for most private company sales in the US last year was around $155,000. Only an elite few sell out for $10 million or more – 6000 per annum. (Note there are 5.9 million businesses that run a payroll)
  12. Prospecting is dead. The only way to generate sales leads is to be found on the web. Wrong. Outbound calling designed to deliver insightful questions, that create awareness of need, will always work. Today’s sales professionals require diagnostic skills and the ability to carry out a collaborative conversation. The skillsets have changed but the need for humans to talk to each other has not.
  13. The key to great acquisitions is to buy something that’s up for sale at the cheapest price. Wrong. The key to great acquisitions is to buy a company that quantum leaps your ability to execute your strategy. It may or may not be up for sale. The price paid should reflect an attractive ROI based on the purchase price and appropriate post acquisition costs. 
Like the way we think? Time to really scale your business? Reach out to Ian on 978 395 1155.
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About the Author

Ian founded The Portfolio Partnership (TPP) in 2010. TPP is an operational consultancy focused on scaling private businesses safely. He believes his resume of building 4 previous businesses from publishing, investment banking to software in Europe and the States gives him a unique set of skills and a sense of humor. He remains a competitive masters track & field athlete and in 2012 was ranked #2 indoors in the world for his age at 400m.

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