As small business owners, one of our biggest strengths, especially when building teams, can be the ability to be clear. People can’t serve you if they don’t know what you want from them. Clarity is an ally and can seriously improve professional relationships.
Of course, the first conversation that we have begins within. You can’t build a successful team on a pile of confusion–it will always fall apart at some point. Here are three questions to ask yourself:
- Who are you, professionally?
- What do you want?
- How are you willing to adapt to get it?
1. Who Are You Professionally?
In “Freelancer, Consultant, Entrepreneur: Which Are You?,” Susan Reid breaks down these three words that many small business owners toss around. Are you a freelancer delivering a specific set of services or a consultant providing expert advice? Or are you an entrepreneur creating a business that could be sold one day, if you chose to?
In this article Susan says, “Entrepreneurs sell their businesses.” Of course, there are many owners who will not sell their companies, but her key point is that entrepreneurs create sustainable organizations that “can survive after they (the owners) are gone.” If you have never thought about this before, her article is a great conversation starter.
Entrepreneurship also puts me in the mind of family legacy. If you intend for your company to grow and stay in the family, you may need to choose the entrepreneur’s method instead of the way of the consultant or freelancer. In order to pass something on, there must a workable and duplicatable system that supports the company. Nobody wants to inherit a mess.
So, who are you? Well, it’s your question to answer, but it’s not the only one on the table.
2. What Do You Want?
What is the role that you want your company to play in your life? Businesses solve problems for others, but what kind of problem are you expecting your company to solve for you? Yes, the day-to-day is about your clients, but when you created this company you wanted something too. What do you want? Autonomy? Freedom? Respect? And how do you define those things? When you know what you want, then you work to create the kind of company that takes care of you and your clients, seamlessly—no matter how much effort it requires at first.
John Mariotti, in “Talent Is Important, But Winning Is the Goal,” shares the lessons that he learned from “successive years teaching Little League” and applies them to business. John says you can win with less talent, “but it requires a much more carefully crafted strategy.” That strategy includes “using the talent you have in the best ways, constant attention to good execution, and lots of hard work and hustle.”
Building a company that truly meets your desires–and those of your clients–will require the same kind of hustle and strategy.
3. How Will You Adapt to Get What You Want?
Small businesses have the advantage of size. We can move and adjust quickly. We can sometimes redirect ourselves in days or hours, while larger companies take weeks or months to change. But our weakness lies in the fact that we don’t always document and structure these changes so that they become a part of our small business system.
The moment you know what you want out of your business,strategy requires you to come up with a way to make it happen. In “Is It Time to Restructure Your Small Business?,” Anita Campbell says, “Companies make small changes here, tiny tweaks there… never (or rarely) giving a thought to the big picture. Over time, however, those umpteen little changes start to affect the overall structure—and, in most cases, weaken the company. ”
If you are ready to make the adjustment, then look at the nine steps Anita provides for evaluating and restructuring your company. And get busy, because this type of work is easy to ignore on the front end and painful (if unaddressed) on the backend.