Are You a Bricklayer Or an Architect?

Small Businesses are the true heroes of America and our best hope to pull us out of the current malaise. They face tough odds, sometimes risk it all, and yet look at 2010 and ask, “Are these times an unprecedented opportunity to mark my greatest achievement ever?”

According to Empire Research, only 1 out of 25 Small Businesses will survive 10 Years. One of the chief reasons for the low survival rate? It’s a business owner’s transition from ‘Bricklayer’ to ‘Architect’. That’s right, The Enterprise Council on Small Business found that 74% of Small Businesses are started by “Craftspeople, such as photographers, cabinetmakers, technologists, even licensed professionals. They run a business because they need it to allow them to ply their trade. However, their business ends up looking more like a job than a business.”

Most small business owners are totally in love with their products and services. After all, they may be truly gifted in the areas of creating and delivering a quality product or service that customers love. However, in many cases, that love and focus on the product is just further evidence of a “Bricklayer’s Mindset”. “Why” you say? Do you know Jack’s hamburger joint? It was started in 1967 and today, if it’s in business, it’s still Jack’s Hamburger joint. Another hamburger joint opened up in 1967 and today, it’s McDonald’s. Jack’s hamburgers taste way better than McDonald’s and are probably way better for you. And, let’s face it, Ray Croc, the founder of McDonald’s, may never had made a decent hamburger in his life. Jack understood the working nature of making a hamburger now. Ray Kroc, by contrast, understood the concept of “next” when he said about his competitors, “We invent faster than they can copy.”

Okay, okay dear reader. I can hear your inner voice protesting and saying that your beloved author is trying to tell you to create the next McDonald’s. That’s not the point. Even though Ray Croc was a peddler at 52 when he started McDonald’s, and you could probably do something similar if you wanted, why don’t we start with this: Can you take a 5 week guilt free vacation and come back to a business that runs well or maybe even thrived in your absence? You answered No? Well, you deserve to. You deserve to act like you own the place, the whole place.

I am on a crusade to re-educate and re-focus business owners/managers to lead more, work less, and enjoy greater freedom, financial success and happiness. In short, having owners and managers thinking and act strategically and effectively so ultimately they can create a business that throws off cash while they sleep and worth a fortune when they sell.

Too many owners/managers are gifted technicians but not very effective as strategic leaders. If you are not leading in your business, who is? If you are not being strategic, who is? If you are not proactive, who is? To find out if you are you a strategic business owner, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I see the big picture and have a long-term view?
  • Do I think more like a CEO than an employee?
  • Do I create a yearly business plan?
  • Is my leadership purposeful, proactive, and planning-based?
  • Do I constantly think about the direction and objectives of the business?
  • Do I focus on the entire business and not just the technical work of my business?
  • Have I created plans, procedures and policies to help operate my company?
  • Have I developed and documented all our key business processes?
  • Do I utilize the leverage of marketing to grow my business?
  • Do I spend more time on important matters rather than trivial/urgent matters?
  • Have I created a systems-dependent business instead of an owner-dependent business?
  • Do I conduct one-on-one monthly coaching sessions with my managers and/or key employees?
  • Do I avoid getting buried in the day-to-day details and headaches of the business?
  • Have I shaped my business more by design than by default?

If you answered “no” to most of these questions, you are operating as a tactical, reactive business owner. You could benefit greatly from becoming a strategic business owner (SBO). In short, a strategic business owner gets the highest and best return possible for his/her time, money and effort. He/she focuses on working smarter, not harder. If you’re interested in transforming from a “bricklayer” to “architect” and ultimately create a business that throws off cash while you sleep and worth a fortune when you sell, give me a shout.