Chapter 1: Management Fundamentals
Your business is a reflection of you, but it is not you. In many ways, it's more like your child. If you do everything for it, if you keep it under your wing and never allow it to make any of its own decisions, then you'll always need to take care of it because it will not learn to survive without you.
Managing for Growth
Certainly, your intentions are good. As with your child, you'll be tempted to protect and nurture it. Subconsciously, you might even like the idea that it needs you. After all, it feels good to be needed, to know that some part of the world relies on you. But if you're trying to build a successful business, rather than simply work for yourself, then you must shift your perspective. You must recognize that as long as your business needs you to survive, it will never be able to grow beyond your capacity to personally run it. Just like a child, your business must gain some independence in order to grow.
It's not something that can happen overnight. Depending on the size and complexity of your business, getting to this point could take years, but don't put it off. Start now. Every day that you delay is a day too long. Your business is complex and as it grows it will get more and more complex. You won't be able to control everything by yourself, but you will need everything done the way you would if you could.
No matter how good a job you are doing right now, the future will demand that you do something more if you want to stay on top. In this day and age your business absolutely cannot stay the same and survive.
Your business must change and you must become the primary agent of that change.
Managing For Change
Change is difficult. Especially when people have been doing the same thing the same way for a long time. Unfortunately, without change, there is no growth. The old saying, “If it ain't broke don't fix it,” doesn't apply to business. In order to remain competitive today, you can't sit still for long. Your business does not operate in a vacuum. It constantly effects, and is affected by, its environment. If its environment is constantly changing, then your business must do the same. When an athlete has been trained well, he can learn a brand new skill fairly quickly by adapting the basic movement patterns he has learned in the past to produce the new skill. In gymnastics, for example, all of the flipping and twisting skills that seem so complex are really just a series of basic movements strung together. Once the basics are solid, new skills can often be learned fairly quickly, simply by rearranging those same basic movement patterns.
The degree to which a business can change and the speed with which it can happen, is directly related to its ability to adapt itself to new situations. But adaptability is only possible if your basics are strong.
Think of your business basics as a set of building blocks. If the individual blocks have integrity, they can be put together in different ways to produce different results. If they do not, the structure will collapse.
Once you have developed solid Business Basics, you can adapt them for new business situations. Technology or even public opinion can change faster than you had anticipated and your sales may suddenly drop.
If your business is proficient at developing one product and your basics are solid, it may be possible to adapt your production and marketing processes to a new product with minimal delays. While the future is often unpredictable, one thing is for certain. The world of tomorrow will be very different from the world of today. Technology will change, competition will grow, and public opinion will shift. Through it all, your business will get knocked around a bit, but if your basics are strong, and if you continue to operate with a clear sense of vision, your business will have the strength to weather the storms.
Committing To Your Success
At times you may find it difficult to prioritize your business development efforts. You’ll intend to do it, but something important will come up that demands your attention right away. You’ll need to handle a customer complaint, help a new employee, or answer an important phone call. It's easy to be sidetracked by activities that soak up your time, but give you little in return. As we discussed in Leadership, it's the difference between spending your time and investing it. If you constantly spend your time on your immediate problems, you'll have no time left to invest in your business development work. You'll always need to handle the customer complaint, help the new employee, or answer the phone.
What's the worst thing that will happen if you invest one hour each day to develop your business? More importantly, what will happen if you don't?
While the achievement of your goals is important, true success is found in the journey more than in the destination. If you can make business development an everyday part of your business practices, success will find you whether you seek it or not. Business development means a commitment to continuous improvement. It's not about things not being good enough. It's about always striving for something better, continuously asking yourself, “How can I improve on this?” Once this becomes the driving force behind your business, nothing can stop you. You will succeed because success is no longer a dream; it is a way of life.
The Japanese call it Kaizen. After the Second World War, the Japanese economy was poor, and the general opinion of Japanese quality of goods was very low. To combat this, a number of Japanese manufacturers instituted continuous improvement programs that transformed their economy and turned them into a manufacturing superpower. Everyone from the regular workers on the shop floor to the plant managers and CEO are involved in Kaizen. Workers have the right and the responsibility to suggest improvements to the way things are done. The improvements are monitored and more suggestions are made based on the results. This cycle is on a permanently repeating loop. The idea is that small and continuous change will yield large results over time. This idea has spread from manufacturing to all areas of business, and can be applied to almost everything in life with positive results. We will discuss the concept of continuous improvement in more detail in the Systems section.
“Organizations are a system of cooperative activities and their coordination requires something intangible and personal that is largely a matter of relationships."