No Time to Develop Process? Think Again!!

A number of years ago a new client responded to my question “can I see last year’s financials?” by handing me the check register for his business checking account.  Ignoring some other issues (many?), this is indicative, to me, of a problem that many individuals have when they start their business – they don’t put processes in place to ensure that what needs to be done is a) being done, and b) being done in a standard and repeatable manner.

So when should you develop and implement processes for your business?

Pivot!! Make Your Decisions Quickly

Those of you that know me, or have been following my Business Execution blog, know that I am a big proponent of planning – both strategic and tactical.  So, how can I now be advising you to make your decisions quickly?  Doesn’t that fly-in-the-face of taking the time to think things through and plan?

Let me explain why I don’t think that it does, and why I believe that the speed of your decision making can be an accelerant to the growth of your business.  After all, I am as big a proponent of execution as I am of planning.

I’m a Square!!

Yes, I admit it … but probably not in the way you are currently thinking.  The Square in my title is the credit card reader/application/service that I use for taking credit card payments – so maybe the title should be “I’m a Square user”!!

Earlier this week I was discussing with someone why I started my business and why my ‘focused market niche’ is in the entrepreneurial and small business space.  Square is an example of one of the market drivers behind my decision to start my own business.

Can money make you stupid?

Last week I talked about the new JOBS Act making “equity-based crowd funding” legal; and how I believe it is a good thing for startup funding.  So this week I thought I would talk about a potential pitfall for the entrepreneur from this “easy money”.  I’m ignoring any pitfalls that may be introduced by the act itself – until we see a draft of the regulations I think it is too soon to comment.

While I don’t have any “real data”, based on my own experience I would say that when you talk to people starting a business at least 80% of them come out with some statement along the lines of “if I can raise [insert number here], then all of our problems will be solved”.  Unfortunately for many of them, raising the amount of money they are targeting – or even twice as much – won’t help them succeed.

Small business – the engine of the US economy?

Politicians and the media like to spout what seems to be conventional wisdom that “small business is the engine of the US economy” and that these businesses create the most jobs.  But is that so?

One of the criteria describing Collaborative Xceleration’s target market niche is “small companies looking for exponential growth”.  So, recently I’ve been doing some research into how many of these companies exist in the U.S., and what their geographic distribution is (this is also input to deciding where we are going live!).  As part of that research, I’ve come across some interesting data that addresses the “engine of the economy” statement which I thought I would share with you.

Building a Better ‘First-Time Entrepreneur’

This week I talked with an entrepreneur (no names; no pack drill!) who isn’t happy with the speed with which their business is progressing (come to think of it I’m not sure I’ve ever met an entrepreneur who was happy with their speed of business progress [superemotions file=”icon_biggrin.gif” title=”Big Grin”]) – and, actually, my conversations were with more than one such entrepreneur.

This got me thinking about weaknesses exhibited in the businesses of first-time entrepreneurs, specifically during the period before they get to revenue.  My conversation with this individual covered most of the topics that I’ve detailed below; they are ones that commonly come up in conversations with first-time entrepreneurs (I’m sure you can come up with others!!).

Business planning, not business plans

I usually cringe when I hear an entrepreneur or small business owner talking about writing (or worse, being told to write) a business plan.  The reason I cringe is that, too often, what people mean by “business plan” is some 30+ page Word document that no-one will ever read and which will end up as a dusty binder on a bookshelf, or some forgotten bytes on a dusty hard drive.

Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season 2011

Today is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. Traditionally, it is the start of the year-end holiday season which lasts through the New Year. Many business owners (not those in retail!) see this as a slower time of the year with people distracted by shopping, holiday parties and vacations tacked around the actual holidays. So, if the customer side of your business is slower, maybe it is a good time to spend more time than usual on planning and improving your business.

What Is An Entrepreneur; and Why Does It Matter?

Last month my blog was partly inspired by reading Carol Roth’s The Entrepreneur Equation. This month I’ve been reading Peter Drucker’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship (1985) and Scott Shane’s The Illusions of Entrepreneurship (2008). I must admit that this thematic reading has, in part, been prompted by the LinkedIn question my friend Steve Breitman asked “What do you feel are the biggest small business/entrepreneurship myths?” and the follow-on discussions – particularly with Dave Reading – that have stirred up questions of “what is an entrepreneur?” and what are their characteristics. I am particularly interested in revisiting this question at this time because I’m trying to ensure I understand the entrepreneur market – after all, my current business, and two others that are in the feasibility and planning stage, all target entrepreneurs as their primary market niche.