Monthly Archives: February 2014

Taking your Business to the Next Level – Part 1 of 2

Have you ever wished you had a business that could operate smoothly without you being there for weeks on end? Or conversely, have you ever felt that your business is totally dependent on you? That if you didn’t show up, things would start to fall apart?

Some signs your business is overly dependent on you is when:

  • You call in sick to your own voice mail and leave yourself a message you won’t be in today
  • You put on different name badges as you move between doing different tasks in your organization
  • You try to clone yourself so one of you can go on vacation while the other stays at the officeSmall Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia to work

But I have good news for you it does not need to be that way.

Ron, a friend of mine who is a business broker recently told me 80% of the businesses he sees are what we call “fruit-stand” businesses. In having worked with over 1,200 businesses during the past 17 years I have found there are basically two ways in which a business can operate; a fruit-stand model and a factory model.

In the fruit-stand model the owner shows up Monday, sets out the fruit and has revenue. Tuesday they come in, set out the fruit and have revenue. They do the same thing on Wednesday. However, on Thursday, they don’t show up. Consequently, there is no revenue. Friday they come in, set out the fruit and have revenue. Under the fruit-stand model, the business is more or less totally dependent on the owner for many things. Unless they do those things or ensure that others do those things, the company does not operate properly.

Conversely, in the factory mode—metaphorically speaking—the owner shows up Monday and builds the factory, but has no revenue. Tuesday they come in, hire the personnel, train them and put the equipment in place, but still have no revenue. On Wednesday, they come in, start the factory, oversee operations and have revenue. Thursday, they come in, oversee operations and have revenue. However, on Friday and Monday, they don’t show up, but still have revenue.

Under the factory model, a business owner initially invests the time to develop, implement and optimize the systems, hire the correct personnel, and train and empower them to operate the business without them.

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia


The situation so many business owners fall into is the tyranny of the urgent syndrome where they don’t take the time to develop, debug and optimize the processes in their businesses nor hire and train the people that can run the business without the owner being there. Many times, owners get caught in this syndrome because they are so busy with the business and the demands of getting the work done by “working in the business” they don’t take the time to “work on the business.”

I have found the following are the typical attributes of fruit-stand versus a factory-model business.

Exhausting fruit stands:

  • Not fully systematized
  • Not scalable and difficult to grow to the next level
  • Overly dependent on the business owner

Economic factories:

  • Fully systematized
  • Scalable and not difficult to grow to the next level
  • Not overly dependent on the business owner

 To be continued in Part 2 of Taking your Business to the Next Level

Inspiring and Motivating Your Small Business’ Personnel

As we discussed in Small Business Planning – How to Put First Things First in addition to being able to quickly and easily identify the specific areas of your business upon which you will want to concentrate your limited time, money and talent, using Critical Success Factors as a key small business planning tool will enable you to obtain these four overarching benefits for your business:

1. Identify company-wide goals.

2. Provide for the proper allocation of resources.

3. Inspire and motivate your business’s personnel.

4. Provide ongoing guidance for your business operations.

I covered the first two items in that blog and I will cover the later two in this blog.

 3. Inspire and Motivate Your Small Business’ Personnel

All people want to feel that their lives have purpose and meaning. They want to know that the work that they are doing is moreSmall Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia than “just a job that pays the bills.” Studies have shown that people generally want to be part of something bigger than them and they want to be part of an organization that is accomplishing something significant.

Your Critical Success Factors define the details of what your business is trying to accomplish and what things must be done correctly every day, to do so. When your personnel become aware of your Vision for your small business and the Critical Success Factors that must be achieved in order to achieve that Vision, they will gain insights into and an understanding of what things must be realized on a daily basis to accomplish your business’s Vision. As a result of obtaining this knowledge they will be inspired, motivated and challenged by their work, as compared to viewing their work just being “a job.”

When your employees know your Vision and Critical Success Factors, they are reminded on a daily basis: “Why did I even come into work today?”; “Why are we even in business?”; “Why are we going to all of this effort to do…?”; and “What are we trying to accomplish here?” This knowledge will result in personnel who are motivated and engaged with their work and your business because they see the big picture and realize how their efforts directly affect your small business.

This awareness can foster the development of a culture of discipline in your small business because employees will realize that in order to achieve the Vision for your business they are being requested to do certain things, in a certain way. They will be more inclined to follow company procedures and “go the extra mile…” because they see the overall purpose of their efforts.

4. Provide Ongoing Guidance for Your Small Business’ Operations

Small Business PlanningUnless a business’s daily actions are being executed based upon an overall strategy, then the business’s daily ongoing operations can revert to getting caught up in actions that may not be moving it toward its ultimate objective.

The business can get trapped in an endless loop of crisis management, tyranny of the urgent, and putting fires out all day long. This endless loop will not move a small business closer to achieving its Vision. It also can exhaust and frustrate both employees and owners, leaving everyone involved feeling like all of their activity and hard work is accomplishing little or nothing since, at the end of the day, the same issues, problems, challenges, and unmet goals that were there at the beginning of the day are still there. No real progress has been made.

By using your Critical Success Factors as the framework of your strategy for your daily operations and by allowing them to provide ongoing guidance to your small business, you will ensure that you have purposeful and directed daily operations in your business.

Therefore, in addition to the immediate benefit to your small business of being able to rapidly and effectively identify the specific areas of your business where you want to deploy your resources, using Critical Success Factors as a key small business planning tool provides these four advantages to your business thus ensuring you are on the road to achieving the Vision for your business.