I went to an event with ICMI recently and saw Alisa Camplin speak. She blew me away with her incredible story. At 19 years old she decided she wanted to be an Olympian. She came across aerial skiing and realized that skills she'd learnt in high school gymnastics were transferable (ignoring the fact that she'd never seen snow in her life). Alisa found a coach who told her there are several core attributes an Aerial Skier needs to score highly on to become an Olympian such as time commitment, diet, acrobatics and financial investment. There were seven attributes in total. Initially Alisa scored 1/70. She put a plan into place and after seven years of working four jobs to pay for her training, she went on to score 70/70 and became Australia's first female Winter Olympics gold medalist in 2002.
What does this have to do with running a business? Just like Alisa's seven attributes, there are four key pillars that every business needs to master in order to reach its potential and succeed. Financial, customers, people and process.
1. Financial refers to knowing your numbers. Profit, cash flow, business value, break-even point and knowing how to measure your performance are just a handful of elements that make up the financial pillar.
2. Customers may seem obvious, but could you actually tell me who they specifically are, where you find them and why they would choose you over any other business? Do you know what your core product or service is?
3. People refers to your staff. It's about finding the right person for the right role. Be clear on the culture that you want to foster and the kind of people who will make it happen. Your staff are your most valuable resource.
4. The last pillar of process refers to having all your systems in place to maximize efficiency. If a key staff member left you, could someone else step in and pick up the role easily? Could you sell your business tomorrow and effectively hand over all operations or is everything in your head and not on paper?
When working with my clients, I often see business owners who have started out focusing on customers and products but lack the back end people, processes and funding to support their growth. I believe that the difference between a good business and a great business is when all four areas are strong. When you have enough cash flow to fund your growth, the right people sitting in the right spots and the most efficient processes in place, it will maximize the value of your business and remove it's dependency on you as the key person.
As Michael Gerber author of E-Myth said: Systems run businesses. People run systems. The four pillars are all linked and complementary. I'll be drilling down into each one in blog posts to come, but have a think about which of the four you're doing well and which need improvement. If you're business is already off to a good start, imagine it's potential once you have each pillar nutted out a la Alisa!