We all have our strengths.
The challenge for most of us, me included, is to recognize where our strengths are to double down on those. And likewise we should find where our weaknesses are and, when and where possible, delegate them.
I managed to build my first business on my strengths, which are sales and marketing, but while my business grew, I found myself getting caught in the operations side of the business. If I wasn’t careful, that would become my downfall.
I had my moment of reckoning in early 2013 when a leading staff member resigned. I was at an interesting inflection point in my business. Sales were somewhat stagnant, and I kept getting caught in operations, specifically managing a growing team of service and technical resources, which took time away from me focusing on sales, marketing, and strategy: three key areas that I enjoyed and have been traditionally strong in.
The staff member who resigned was leaving, he said, because the business lacked direction and he wanted more training. Things were always somewhat chaotic—and he felt the business was disorganized. It was missing an operations person to run it properly, he said. I was a sales leader, not an ops person, what did I know?
As a result of this staff member’s resignation, I hired an operations person, who did a fantastic job. As a result, I was able to focus on sales and marketing, and thanks to an awesome team, our business nearly doubled during the next 4-year period.
I wrote about this incident in great detail in a blog post, which you can find here.
Fast forward to October 2017. I sold my business and semi-retired, until …
I ended up back in the president chair on an interim basis in late March 2019.
My plan was to try to operate as president on a part-time, 20-hour-a-week basis. What I’ve since found is that it might be possible to operate a business on a part-time basis but not one where there are many issues that require attention and clean-up. As a result, my other personal and business affairs have been put on a temporary hiatus so that I can focus on getting the business back to health.
What I’ve come to realize is that there’s an unfortunate irony in my current position.
The part of the business that requires the most attention is the operations side. Not only am I not particularly skilled at operations, it’s also not something I enjoy doing. Yet here I am, spending the bulk of my time thinking about business operations.
So what have I learned?
In the interest of confidentiality, I clearly can’t go into detail about the details of how the business is run, but what I can point to is the importance of accounting and finance in the overall health of any business.
Accounting and finance is something that is often taken for granted.
– Invoice your clients
– Collect your invoices
– Order (or develop) product
– Pay for your product
– Keep a clean general ledger
– Manage your inventory
– Produce and carefully review your monthly accrued income statement and balance sheet
– Manage your cash flow daily
– Understand your gross and net margins
– Pay your team, commissions included
If you can manage to do these things well, then voila, you have a well-run accounting department.
And if you don’t, then you might find yourself without a business.
I’m not speaking about operating a profitable business. That’s a given. What I’m speaking about is the importance of operating a well-run accounting department that can keep track of the in- and outflows of cash into the business. An accounting team that has clean and error-free records.
What Is Your Personal Achilles’ Heel? What is Your Business’s Achilles’ Heel?
An Achilles’ heel is a weak or vulnerable factor – especially one where all other components are strong.
You can’t ignore your Achilles’ heel. You might think you can operate in blissful ignorance, ignore your weak point(s), and hope they somehow, miraculously, get better.
I’ve had the fortunate occasion to meet some amazing entrepreneurs, most of whom seem to be stuck at different phases of their business.
I met a young entrepreneur who was so adept at marketing that he managed to grow his business into the multi-millions within a couple of years, only to find himself stuck with inventory, accounting, and operations issues that were hurting his business’s growth.
I’ve met entrepreneurs who are strong on the tech side but weak in marketing, or strong in sales but weak in accounting.
In almost all cases, the growth of these business’s flattens, and the entrepreneurs get frustrated.
When I’m called to help an entrepreneur, I spend time trying to understand what the entrepreneur’s strengths are and, likewise, where their weaknesses are. I work with them to help identify how to work around these weaknesses. In some cases, they don’t recognize their own Achilles’ heel, and it takes an objective third party to help pinpoint these issues.
There’s an expression that I think of often: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” OR “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
Are your business’s sales flat for the last few years?
Is your business stuck or suffering as a result of a poorly run department?
Ask yourself those questions. Seek outside help if required to get those answers, otherwise, you might find yourself getting frustrated by the very things that are holding you back. Figure out what they are and watch your business soar. Alternatively, you can ignore them and suffer the personal or business consequences.
Want to know more about me and read some of the other interesting small business growth, profit and wealth stories I’ve written.
Here’s one of the first articles I wrote: My Journey Post Business Sale as I Sail Into a New Harbour.
Are you a younger entrepreneur? Here’s another interesting article I wrote:
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