It's fashionable these days to be a coach or consultant and a lot of the ink that's been spilled about how to do this or that comes from people that have never done it to any level of success.
I'd like to think I do know a little bit about the business coaching field, having helped start it over 40 years ago and, in the ensuing decades, having worked with over 100,000 clients, selling millions of books in dozens of languages, and "walking the walk," so to speak.
So it's fun for me to read articles about "what it takes" or "everything you need to know" about things that I do happen to know a lot about - entrepreneurship, growing small businesses, and fixing broken enterprises.
In the end, what do you actually need to know? For starters, you probably already know more than I did when I closed my first consulting deal in the late 1970s, but the most critical component that I've found for any business to succeed is the one thing most lacking in every small business: the systems to exert control over the business whether the boss is there or not.
If you cannot grasp that concept before you ever decide to open the doors on your company, you might as well save the time, energy, and money you'll expend in the coming months after you open for business. The systems are the skeleton, the foundation, the frame, and the blueprint that you need to be able to ever scale a company past the point of simply giving yourself a job.
Well, after that, the hard work is practically done! From there, you can rely on the systems you've built to be able to guide every action within the business - even supplying you with the structure of how to properly modify the systems you've put in place.
Of course, you're thinking that this is silly and that if you simply do what you love, you'll be able to parry that into a great, growing company and the money will come rolling in. Not so. In fact, over the last few weeks, I've perused a number of "how-to" articles that extoll the various things you need to do to be successful in building a small business and, to each of them, I'll demonstrate how none of them are "critical" if you, as the owner, take the time to design a system to help you handle these desirable traits...
· "Be The Expert" - You need to be adept within the industry, but a properly built Hiring System will bring in the real experts each component of your company needs.
· "Project a Professional Image" - No need to manage this if you've clearly documented the expectations.
· "Understand How to Sell" - Again, you'll need to understand the sales process, but as the owner, you don't have to know how to sell - you have to have a system to hire and train great sales people.
· "Remember to promote yourself and your business- get attention" - Nope. Build the system to generate leads, drive marketing, and seek referrals.
· "Understand your customer - now and tomorrow" - You guessed it - build and design the systems to capture and document trends, new technology, and sales history from customers so that you can identify - and quantify - what your customer really needs.
· "Build a team" - Absolutely - and have a clear-cut path on how that team is located, trained, and deployed.
· "Sell the benefit, not the features" - You never have to remember this if your sales team is properly trained - yep, there should be a system for that.
· "Understand what it actually means to negotiate" - Sales systems!
· "Build systems to keep you organized" - I agree!
· "Don't wear every hat" - Having the systems in place will keep you from doing that.
· "Remember to follow up" - Of course, and yes, that can be clearly documented in a sales training system.
Don't make this any harder than it has to be. The secret to creating a true business enterprise that can grow, scale, and create something truly valuable to sell after you're done with it, you MUST take the time to systemize every aspect of your business, even if you don't think you "need" it yet. Build the business you want to sell, not the business you want to run!