When starting and building a small business, an owner will soon realize there is much wisdom and knowledge needed for sustained success. Generally, most business leaders assume they are equipped with the necessary skills for business ownership. However, early in their career they realize they are inadequate for the mission of sustaining and growing a great business.
Consequently, customers, employees, and vendors are witnesses to the evidence: many small business owners LACK understanding of the seven pillars of smart business ownership. The evidence manifests itself as inferior quality and service, employee turnover, late deliveries, company finance mismanagement, lack of customer and prospect follow-up, internal chaos.
Additional evidence includes poorly-designed business processes, the owner working long hours, employees feuding, an owner’s lack of vision for their business, apathy, and high labor rates, etc. Whew!
Over the last few decades, I’ve seen the struggles of small business owners manifest in tears over utter discouragement; even failing health. In fact, I had these same struggles until I made the decision to prune my life and my business. As a result, I’ve been able to write about these struggles, and how I overcame them, step-by-step, in a book called, System Busters; How to Stop Them in Your Business.
Pursuing the Seven Pillars of Smart Business Ownership
If you have found yourself and your business having such struggles, PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING with an open mind. In other words, DON’T SIMPLY SCAN the information without really considering its value toward growing your business as never before.
First—read and reflect on this statement made by Michael Gerber. “You are the problem, you’ve always been the problem, and you will always be the problem, until you change.” Hits you where you live, doesn’t it—it did me, years ago!
Until a business owner realizes they don’t have the essentials available to them for building a business of excellence, they will likely think the “seven pillars” are just a lot of horse manure. Sadly, many business owners will never make the DECISION to change, much less implement business systems to end the messes.
NOTE: The following “seven pillars” all intersect and connect. Consequently, when one seeks and grows in one area of the seven pillars, they also develop in the others.
1. Vision | Forward Thinking and Believing
Starting or growing a business without vision, results in little to NO planning; just a shoot-from-the-hip method of madness—the blind leading the blind. It’s futile!
Countless small business owners go through their entire business life-cycle bogged down in chaos. For this reason, they spend long hours working IN the business, wearing most of the hats. Consequently, they feel trapped, as if the business OWNS them, rather than them owning the business. Sadly, they’ve built for themselves a mundane JOB.
The Fleeting Dream of Business Ownership
When first dreaming of business ownership, people imagine financial freedom; freedom to do the things they always wanted to do, but never found the time. Make no mistake, if a business lacks organization systematically, the pain of ownership can far outweigh any benefits.
Types of Skills Associated with Business Owners
A business owner usually has a particular skill that caused them to think they could take on business ownership. For example, they may be good salespeople, have effective management capabilities, or gifted with good technical skills. However, to operate, sustain, and grow a business effectively, owners need a STRONG working knowledge of Sales & Marketing, Effective Management, and some Technical know-how of their chosen business. Otherwise, they will have to rely on others to make decisions in those areas where they have little knowledge. This is when an owner feels helpless, and employees can often hold the owner hostage.
Conclusion: VISION comes from forward thinking, which comes from simply turning your creative thinking into positive actions. For example, imagine first a “virtual reality business,” then write down what you see in detail—how the business looks, operates, and serves humanity. At that point, begin planning and seeking knowledge (the second pillar), to turn your “virtual reality” into actual reality!
2. Knowledge | Continual Improvement
Knowing the state of your flocks is crucial to business ownership. In other words, having up-to-date financial reports and systematic control of operations is vital. To obtain a complete picture of a business’s health, SYSTEMS for quickly appraising that health should be in place.
Continual Improvement in every aspect of the business and one’s personal life should be the goal of every business leader. Therefore, it’s important to continually seek knowledge that helps reach those goals.
In today’s high-tech world, knowledge is increasing at an exponential rate. As a result, by just using a computer’s browser, access to vast knowledge is just a click away via websites, videos, seminars, books, and schools, etc.
Conclusion: Focus creativity and thoughts on seeking knowledge and continual improvement for the business. However, in order to apply knowledge effectively, one needs the 3rd pillar of Discernment. Read on.
3. Discernment | Applying Understanding and Knowledge
Lack of discernment and understanding can, and usually does, result in disappointment and business failure. I’m sure, in your own travels, you’ve witnessed some seemingly knowledgeable people display little ability to apply that knowledge effectively.
An owner needs the ability to discern between what’s good and bad for their business. More importantly, what’s good or bad for their life!
Some Examples of Business Ownership Discernment and Applying Knowledge Effectively:
- When hiring an employee, having the insight to know how they will fit into the company’s culture. In addition, understanding the importance of conducting background checks on applicants can avoid a lot of pain. Administering a detailed orientation allows a new-hire to hit the ground running.
- Discretion to keep confidential knowledge confidential, builds respect from others. In other words, perceiving truth and having the good sense to verify, before speaking harmful words or making rash decisions. In short, use knowledge only for good!
- Having the discipline not to chase every new-fangled idea is prudent; thereby, staying focused on completing projects already in progress. Sadly, business entrepreneurs often tend to see opportunity around every corner, and they become sidetracked.
- The judgment to know a business needs, not only GOOD PEOPLE, but also GOOD SYSTEMS to bring a symphony of order to a company’s culture. This also applies to one’s life.
Conclusion: Discernment is a gift. Nevertheless, by associating with people of wisdom, and receiving their counsel, discernment will follow. King Solomon asked the Creator for discernment and understanding of knowledge, that he might be an effective leader over his nation’s business. As a result, Solomon became the wisest, most wealthy and powerful person in the ancient world
4. Counsel | Receiving and Giving
No man, they say, is an island; however, before inviting counsel into your inner circle, be sure the “counselor” is of high character and integrity. In other words, they should be honest, positive, self-controlled, disciplined, sober, and knowledgeable themselves! Of course, all business leaders should seek and grow in these traits. Be wary of anyone with perverse speech!
Discover excellent business counsel on informational websites, newsletters, blogs, videos, seminar, and schools, etc. These days, with so much technology at hand, there’s no excuse for not obtaining helpful advice, with little cost. In fact, just ONE good business book could change the course of your life. It did mine!
Conclusion: Seek wisdom! After achieving success in business by having received good counsel and guidance, it should be every business owner’s goal to help other owners succeed, by sharing your knowledge.
5. Perseverance | Determination | Persistence
Never give up, and never fall down without getting back up! Challenges are part of business ownership; therefore, to turn a vision into reality, you must complete the race. King David said he encouraged himself in the Lord when he felt defeated. Similarly, when a business takes a downturn, a business leader does well to encourage his or her self by listening to successful people via podcasts and self-help books, etc.
Conclusion: Whatever it takes to encourage yourself, DO IT! Failure should NOT be an option. Don’t sit around having a pity-party. Get up, get going, and turn your face toward the winds of any opposition.
6. Power | Dominance | On Top
Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power!” We’ve all seen certain owners or managers lording over people, acting like “Mr. Big Shot”—thinking more highly of themselves than they should.
When a person obtains a leadership position, they should remain humble and consider their selves a servant, not a taskmaster. Avoiding pride and arrogance is wise and valuable. Remember, pride goes before the fall! Too many people have risen to the top, only to find themselves on the bottom, having believed their own press.
In the same manner, some companies become more dominant in their industry, by serving their clients well. However, if apathy sets in, a downturn can also happen. In other words, if the management team doesn’t continue to reflect and teach servant-hood—good service—to their employees, customers notice, and leave.
We’ve often seen this happen with certain popular businesses. Due to their dominant power, you get the feeling some just don’t give a rip how they treat customers or others. Consequently, their market share starts to erode.
Conclusion: Once achieving the vision of building and owning a great company, it may be time to stop and consider the next step; a transitioning of tangibles
7. Transitioning Aptitude | Exit or Expand
“You got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them”—so the song goes. In other words, there’s a good and a bad time to exit from business ownership. On the one hand, it’s better to sell it outright or pass the baton to family members. On the other hand, a business owner who loves what they’re doing may consider franchising, or transitioning to other products and/or services.
In any event, building a company using the seven pillars of smart business ownership, the options for transitioning are almost endless.
Tangible and Intangible Assets
Tangible Assets can be seen and handled; therefore, they have substance, i.e. equipment, vehicles, buildings, office furniture, etc.
Intangible Assets are NOT readily seen, but they affect the success of the business, i.e. business process systems that ensure great service and quality; also, the orderly and peaceful atmosphere in a company’s culture. Intangibles include well-seasoned and trained staff, a company’s location, etc.
Tangible and intangible assets determine the VALUE of a business. With well-defined business process management (intangible assets) in place, family members and new owners are more likely to succeed when taking the reins of power.
Seven Pillars of Smart Business Ownership | Final Conclusion
Truth is, very few businesses owners ever stay the course of building a business, using the Seven Pillars of Smart Business Ownership. I don’t have the answer as to why that’s the case; and speculating may not prove helpful to anyone.
However, I do know these SEVEN PILLARS work. I know, if applied, they will transform a business and the life of a business leader. Smart!
Did I mention? Great systems work!