Eight Lunches, Business, Entrepreneur thoughts

As I let the feedback from Eight Lunches incubate, and I noodle on the direction of the next draft, I’ve thought a lot about business.

I think about it as if I really were someone’s business coach.

I think it as it pertains to my own business.

I think about it as if I were speaking to a group of 100 wannabe entrepreneurs.

Lately I was thinking about starting and sustaining a successful business.  I’m sure people have thought about this a gazillion times, so perhaps there’s nothing new to this, but I’ve been trying to whittle down a model/system, so I could communicate it efficiently.

I came up with 5 steps or stages or components of this system… a system to create and maintain a sustainable business:

  1. Idea. It all starts with an idea, whether it is NEW (the better mouse trap) or old (a pasta restaurant).
  2. Execution. Not to use an ambiguous word that could be used in each of these five steps… but the idea here is to take the IDEA from step one and make it happen.  This is, create the widget, open the restaurant, etc.  This is take the idea off of paper and make it happen.  And then wait for the build it and they will come/buy, thing, right?
  3. WRONG.  Sales. This is key. This is the make-it-or-break-it thing.  Whether you sell licensing to your brilliant thing or sell widgets at 4 cents profit or sell one thing every year for a million bucks profit, you gotta sell.  Even non-salespeople have to sell – the brand, and the company.
  4. Delivery.  Once you sell your job isn’t done… you have to deliver on what you sold.  If it is a widget you put it in the mail (assuming it’s already been manufactured). If it is a custom quilt you have to sew it, if it is a consulting package or writing gig you have to schedule time to deliver on what you sold.
  5. EVOLVE.  I thought steps 1-4 was good but in the last four years I’ve found that there is this tricky little thing I call business evolution… my business has evolved dramatically from what I thought it would be (and what you would read in my business plan from 4 years ago) to what it is today. Having said that I feel like I’m in the most torrential part of business evolution… based on technology changes, competition, opportunities, economy and market, etc.  If you don’t evolve you might not live long.

Five simple steps… books can be (have been) written on each of these things… but what do you think… am I missing something (that can’t be put in one of the 5 above)?  Is there a list like this somewhere else that you like?

5 thoughts on “Eight Lunches, Business, Entrepreneur thoughts

  1. Melissa Cooley

    You’re right — evolution is very critical to business. Everything in the world changes, and if your business doesn’t reflect that, you lose your relevancy.

    One thing that I would add to this model is EVALUATION. I would put this after step 4; if you don’t bother to review what you’ve done to see if it’s really meeting the needs of your audience, you may end up putting forth a lot of effort that doesn’t mean much because you’ve missed your target.

    I also don’t see this so much in stages as I do a never-ending cycle. By the time you get to evolution, you need to brainstorm for new ideas to fit in with the new circumstances you are in, determine how to execute them, etc. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  2. Karin H

    Hi Jason

    There’s something almost intangible missing in the list, my gut-feeling says between 1 and 2.
    Idea, yes of course; execution also – without action an idea stays an idea – but in between the two there should be the “clear picture” of where you want your executed idea to belong: i.e quantity over quality, low-end market over high end market, green over never-mind-the-environment, social business over “go-for-the-profit-only” etc.
    ‘Cos that picture also “dictates” how it is sold, packed and even delivered. And makes Melissa’s Evaluation easier – “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do” (one of my favourite quotes, by Robert Craven).

    Karin H (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  3. Jason Post author

    @Melissa,I agree… constantly evaluate…

    @Karin, interesting … I think I assumed this type of market research, or competitive intelligence research, would be part of #1… but it is definitely an uber-important component.

  4. Karin H

    Hi Jason

    It goes beyond market research really IMHO, more establishing your “hedgehog concept” (ala Jim Collins’s Good to Great). Don’t mean a type of “vision” either, it goes deeper, more essential – can we call it “the being of the business” or am I not making sense?

    That’s what happens with gut-feelings 😉

    Karin H

  5. Karin H

    Hi again

    Not sure if you follow Drew McLellan’s blog, his latest post describes it better than I can:

    “Getting ready to produce something. Are you sure you’re not taking a shortcut?

    * If you can’t describe how you are genuinely and relevantly different from your competitors, STOP.
    * If you can’t describe your ideal customer, STOP.
    * If you don’t have a broad brand/marketing plan so that you aren’t operating in a vacuum, STOP.
    * If you haven’t defined how you are visually going to communicate your company’s offerings, STOP.
    * If you don’t know how you’re going to follow up on the leads the new marketing tactic generates, STOP.”

    Karin H (never believed in coincidences – you find what you need when you keep looking ;-))

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