You could say that Steve Blank is small-business-savvy. 

The serial entrepreneur and Silicon Valley veteran has been involved in or founded eight technology companies across six different industries, from computers to video games to semiconductors and more. He's also credited with creating the Lean Startup methodology, which emphasizes the importance of experimentation and risk-taking in entrepreneurship. 

"I have an attribute that I think is common to great entrepreneurs," he says in an interview with Inc.'s Allison Fass: "And that is, I'm intensely curious about lots of stuff, not just the domain in front of me." 

Blank goes on to explain that the best business owners can recognize patterns across different industries. They then create a model for how their own business should operate, by "adapting and adopting" other successful ones. 

Daunting though it may sound, he continues, drawing your company "diagram" is relatively easy to do, once you understand that all businesses--from scrappy startups to giants like Apple and Facebook--are actually organized in one of three basic ways. 

"The big surprise for me was learning in 20 years that there aren't 4,000 forms of corporate organization. Turns out, companies are organized in just three ways: They're organized either functionally--sales, marketing, engineering; or they're organized around divisions--product divisions or geographic divisions; or they sometimes have matrix organizations."

Once you've identified which category your business falls in, you'll have a better sense of which potential clients and industry experts you should be reaching out to. Then it's up to you to "get out of the building," and engage your customers before it's too late.

For more on drawing your corporate diagram, watch the video below.

Published on: Mar 3, 2015