If you've never read my book, The E-Myth Revisited, then let's stop right now.  Go buy a copy and read it, digest it, and ACT on it.  When you sit down to take action in your own company after reading The E-Myth Revisited, something is going to happen:  You're going to get overwhelmed trying to "fix" stuff that you never realized needed fixing and you're going to wear yourself out trying to create systems that you never envisioned needing.

Take a deep breath, hold it, now let it out.

You DO need to do all those things, but you also have to do so at a pace that will allow you to make it to lunchtime without having a coronary.  As you might have guessed, though, I have a few opinions on understanding how to focus on what a small business is going to do well instead of being lost in what a small business can do at all.

Which is why you're reading this.

Taking it from the top, then, chances are, if you've been in business for any length of time, your business has picked up some bad habits.  You have too, but we'll address those in due time.  The biggest challenge for small businesses is simple - too many ideas, not enough systems.

You're a web designer, a social media expert, you sell some type of multi-level product from time to time, and you have affiliate relationships with three different software companies.   And on weekends, you drive for Uber.

You're not a small business owner, you're a convenience store!

Some of my clients try to rationalize this by using the words "boutique" or "one-stop shop" but the facts speak to themselves - every "different" stream of income is a dead end.

What you need to do is to understand what it is you actually do.

What are your core competencies?  In your company and with the skills you have, it's highly likely that you can do ten or twelve things pretty well and four of those very well.

If you are ever going to actively grow and scale your company, then you need to understand what it is you actually do there.  Are you a web designer, a computer programmer, a developer, a social media guru, or a cab driver?

As you evaluate each of those skills that you and, presumably, your team possesses, you need to understand how the marketing and lead generation from each one of those "vertical" components actually works in your business - where do clients find you, who do you sell these products and services to, and how do you continue to provide value to your customer after the first sale?

At the end of this analysis, don't be surprised if you find you "do" nine things and only four of them are actually related.  Those "unrelated" items?  Your business can still "do" them, but you need to farm those actions out.  In our web designer example, if social media is the odd man out, establishing a relationship with a company whose core competency is social media and then passing referrals back and forth is the optimal solution - happier customers, faster fulfillment, and a new source of lead generation.

Does this mean you can't be a "boutique" company and merely have a small group of clients to whom you handle all aspects of a particular area - accounting, for example?  Not at all - but - and this is a big "but" - it's extremely difficult to scale such a model and here's why.

"Boutiques" are operated by technicians.

Technicians do not make entrepreneurs.

Scaling a boutique business model will require such a technician to step beyond the idea of "doin' it, doin' it, doin' it" and into the realm of creating training programs and systems to allow somebody else to do the job.  In other words, to use the two examples we've illustrated today, our web designer won't be building websites and our accountant won't be filing returns.

They'll be building a company.

In other words, they'll be out of their comfort zone and, in many cases, looking for the excuse to fall back into the daily tasks of which they are so familiar.

They cannot be distracted and neither can you in building an enterprise, so today, start understanding what your company actually does and then, narrow the scope of your business to concentrate on that one thing.

Published on: Feb 9, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.