To conclude our series on a framework for building a business, we’ll review some concepts that warrant your attention from day one – even if they aren’t yet possible. (To review, we’ve already covered planning and business selection and designing operations.)
So what’s so important that you should be focused on it months or even years before you can achieve it?
Three things, actually. And they’re all interconnected.
Early on, you likely have significantly more time than money – and are eager to make that trade. Eventually, that situation reverses itself. And that transition can be relatively smooth or painful, depending on how well you’ve prepared. Preparation can come in many forms. One of the simplest methods could be to document your processes clearly. Others might look for opportunities to contract or outsource selected business functions. No matter the route, thinking about it ahead of time will make the journey more enjoyable.
American history credits Thomas Edison with inventing everything from the phonograph to the lightbulb. But what he really invented was an innovation factory. His lab brought the best engineers together in the best possible environment, and his “inventions” are more likely the product of their collaborative work.
And what about the awestruck wonder of the Sistine Chapel? We’ve credited Michelangelo with painting the masterpiece, day after day, from images in his genius mind. Instead, as biographer William E. Wallace discovered, 13 people contributed to the painting. Michelangelo’s genius might instead be that of organization and marketing.
We all know the legendary stories of heroes that accomplished something great all by themselves. Forget them. They all had a team. And chances are, you’ll need one too. As you begin, think about how you’ll build your team.
Design your business from day one so that it can someday be profitable without you. Whether you want to travel, take a sabbatical, or be available for family emergencies, the concept is the same. If the system doesn’t function without your inputs, then you don’t really have freedom.
I learned this lesson the hard way when my mother-in-law’s home was struck by a tornado earlier this year. On just a couple hours notice, we spent a week in relative seclusion, assessing the damage and preparing to rebuild. Back home, our teams picked up the slack. However, some holes were exposed. Some tasks hadn’t been documented well, the files weren’t available, or no one else even knew the task was needed.
Remember the fire drills from elementary school? We practiced as if the threat was real, going through each and every motion. Most of us look back on those experiences humorously, but the model is an effective one. Extract yourself, pretend you’re not available, and see if your business can function. Patch the holes, and try it again.
So, what did I miss? What else should a new entrepreneur be thinking about?