When I started blogging in the summer of 2008 on a regular basis I had a simple objective, to share short, sharp pieces of operational advice that had worked for me over the last 25 years.
Specifically I aspired to help owners and their teams make their businesses:
- Run better
- More fun
- More valuable and saleable (one day)
- And to help them Fulfill the potential of their business
Ultimately to help them create business value.
I know I was expecting a lot!
I actually wrote my blog posts to a plan. The plan was to answer 9 big questions that I felt made a significant difference to the success of a business. These were:
- How do you define and dominate your unique market?
- How do you create a high growth business?
- How do you build innovation into your culture?
- How do you attract the best talent and nurture them?
- How do you build a metrics culture that is relentlessly curious?
- What are the best business models?
- How do you raise venture or private equity money?
- How do you minimize risk and build robustness into your business?
- How do you do acquisitions and integrate them seamlessly?
Please use the search button on the sidebar to the blog to find blog posts that help answer these questions.
What questions are you trying to answer to build a more successful business?
I love this list, but would add a tenth for private business owners: Does my business honor my personal values and help me to achieve my personal objectives?
Agreed Paul, the synchronizing of personal objectives and corporate objectives is key to fulfilling the potential of your business. After all, what is it all for, if you can’t achieve your goals.
This is a thought-provoking list, providing much fodder for discussion. There are at least several questions here that are quite a surprise to me, so kudos on providing a list that is commendably discussion-stimulating.
While I think it is enticing to think of one’s business as being in a “unique” market, there are, I believe, at least not as many unique markets as there are things that make each business unique. So if the goal is “fulfilling the Potential of Your Business, I guess I might focus first on what it is that makes a business unique, rather than on trying to define the unique market.
Figuring out how to create a high-growth business is terrific, of course, but presupposes that you have been able to define a unique market that is high-growth. If my market is in fact a slow growth, but profitable enough business, then fulfilling the potential of a business may mean something quite different.
Metrics is an interesting concept, and one that I believe must be approached with great caution. The idea of building a metrics-oriented culture is approaching, I fear, “knee-jerk” status – Who is going to disagree that one should have a metrics-oriented culture? Well, I might, for one. I have been in a metrics-oriented culture before, and I have had numerous discussions with clients about how to deal with metrics. Before this becomes an orthodoxy (if it hasn’t already), think long and hard about the implications. Every metrics program provides at least two things: (1) quantitative (usually) goals used to assess progress, and (2) (unwittingly) guidelines for the informal practices that will successfully game the system to achieve the metrics (at the expense of attention to progress toward the actual objectives that the metrics are trying to measure). At the extreme, I have seen people trying to run entire business units on a spreadsheet, ignoring all of the gamesmanship, compromised business practices and human carnage that was happening off-spreadsheet and was just too messy to deal with. Be careful – be very, very careful with this.
I think there may be a lot of enterprises who are arguably fulfilling their potential who are not spending a lot of time raising venture or private equity money, or making acquisitions. So this is a good list for creating discussion, given that there could be a lot of disagreement about the applicability of these questions to any broad brush of businesses.
Well first of all thank you Robert for taking the time to read and comment on my post. You make some very fair points. Let me just respond to a few points you make.
Overall I’m coming from a place where many companies are just not fulfilling their potential. In the sense owners are just not stepping back and asking the tough questions.
The danger of living with say a low growth sector, shipbuilding, automotive parts supplier, book retailing to name but a few, is that owners need to be careful that they are slowly but surely heading into decline. Many of my clients have aggressively redefined who they are, taking advantage of their unique skills to start to define and dominate a unique market. You get to define what that unique market is. I agree it has to rest on your unique skills otherwise you are dreaming.
Metrics to me is non negotiable. I’m not just talking about financial metrics but the whole plethora of marketing stats that need to measured to see what is working. Building a curious mind is a necessity. A metrics culture is a fun, open place in the businesses I’ve run.
My venture capital and acquisitions questions are absolutely for the right time and place but if they are relevant then the questions need to be answered.
Great discussion and I really appreciate the input. Fulfilling the Potential of Your Business has to be a personal viewpoint but I believe my questions will help shape your thoughts on what potential means to you.
Great set of questions … I will make an attempt to answer them honestly.
I also agree with Paul. I’ve been in the software products industry for 40+ years and believe that a value statement that recognizes customers, employees and owners is critical.
Ron, in my soon to be released book I’ve tried to tried to address the value statement in various sections.
A small agile company that nails it, is a fierce competitive force in a nice way.