When does the simple become the complicated?

I recently read an article about Swedish entrepreneurs, how they struggled with getting funding to start their business and how they ran into unwanted issues as they achieved success. This blog is dedicated to all the entrepreneurs out there…

So, you started out your company with a great business idea, some money from your own pocket and the belief that you would succeed. Some years later you are standing there in an organization with 30 employees doing the exact same thing as before, but you are more lost than ever and your results are spinning out of control. “How did I get here?”, you might ask yourself.

It is really quite simple. As your business grew, you added people in your organization to meet the increasing demand. In times of fast growth this process is usually quite chaotic it can leave you with the feeling that you might have recruited some poor achievers. As you added people you also added a need for communication you didn’t  need before, you always knew what you were planning and acted accordingly, nowadays it seems like people in your organization constantly are working on the wrong thing or that time and resources are being spent in areas that are not according to your own priories. You have also found that people never tell you anything, all information turns up too late and you feel like you’re chasing to make ends meet.

Organizations require work and you have been in it for the business, the smell of the deal, the thrill of helping the customer, and so on. So you haven’t been doing what you should have been doing, and yet you have. There was plenty you could have done, but there is no point in bringing this up for your sake, you are already there and I seriously doubt that anyone starting up is reading (they are busy making the mistakes you made), so I’ll spare you the lecture.

Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up about it. You are where you are and it isn’t all bad.

Key words that describe an entrepreneur.
Key words that describe an entrepreneur. http://www.wordle.net.

What can you do at this point? First of all you need to seriously ask yourself the uncomfortable question, “Am I the right person for the job?” Communication and structure is not natural to all people, so don’t force yourself to work with something that does not make you happy and the end of the day. Look within your organization and see if there is someone with this ability or hire someone. Start by taking yourself out of the equation. This solves the management issue.

Now, you need to take what you have in your head and put it on paper, write down the vision you have for the company. Why do we exist and if I close down tomorrow will my customers loose a value they cannot find any place else? Already got one? Great! Start communicating this to all employees.

You also need to set the route how to achieve the vision. Of course you will never reach it, because it’s a vision, but you need a way to aim in that direction, your strategy. A strategy doesn’t have to be grand or complicated. IKEA had a strategy called 10 jobs in 10 years and it was communicatively genius. By the way, I believe we did it in 7 years. State what you want to achieve in a given time frame. Keep the language simple and leave out room for interpretation. You should create sub strategies to support the overall strategy: HR strategy (what competence do we want, how to we get there), Sales strategy (hunting vs. farming, product mix, market potential, resources, etc.), production strategy (make or buy, type of capacity, capacity volume, sourcing countries, etc.), and so on. Start communicating this to all employees.

What order do you want to do this in? What is first up on the agenda? Are there dependencies (A before B. C has to follow A, but is independent of B). Build in some flexibility to be able to shift priority and/or direction due to circumstance (still the same strategy though). Set a budget to keep track of income and costs. Now you are ready for setting the first year tactical plan.

Write the plan for the coming year, what you want to achieve from a business perspective, what goals you have for different product areas (what will grow and what will reside), what market shares to reach, retention rate, and so on and so on. Start communicating this to all employees.

The point of communicating each step within your company is to make you check your own work. If it does not sound right when you write the communication, then maybe you need change something, or if it is too complicated to explain, it most likely is too complicated to execute.

So, when does the simple become the complicated? When you stop managing…

This is just a quick guide, remember, there are really good professionals out there who can help in all these areas. Have patience, this can take time…

Don’t let yourself get distracted by trends, bring out the best of you and your business

Lately I have been inspired from an unexpected direction, from a sales person. I have always been a skeptic to sales shady ways, never giving a straight answer, never doing what was promised, always stating what will happen and dodging all relevant questions of actually has been achieved. But working with Stefan and reading David Brock in the ”Partners in EXCELLENCE Blog” has given me insight that I have been generalizing too much. They inspire me. There are sales people who understand and can explain what sales really contribute in a company. Read what they are writing to come back to the core question of what selling is all about and how you can get more control of your people and processes.

Today development moves at an amazing speed and information is global at the push of a button. Keeping up with what is happening in your area of work is difficult and time consuming because of the sheer amount of information. The influence of Big Data, social media,solution selling, sales and operation planning, and whatever new thing that is happening out there is actually totally irrelevant if you are doing it for the wrong reason. They are merely the cherry on the cake. This is what I find inspiring in Stefan and David. They are talking at the core of the topic sales, what makes a delicious cake…

This weekend I watched an interview with Simon Sinek, “the #1 Business Principle that Changes Everything”. Thank you Scott at “Live your ledgend” for the interview! What strikes me is that people that constantly are changing to the latest fad on the market in order to “fix” their business or the ways they work have not asked themselves the important question “why” they do what they do. So if you are a searcher, reading this blog because you want a quick solution to your business problems, I have to disappoint. You need to do the celery test. There is no “fix”, you need to sit down and write why your business exists or why you work with what you do every day.

If you are a sales manager you need to task yourself why you are a manager. I cannot tell you the right answer (it’s not “because I’m a great sales person”), but if you love the challenge of sales and you are inspired to lead people you will be helped and inspired as I have been by reading the blogs I mentioned in the beginning.

My why? I love fixing problems and sharing what I learn. Maybe it is more that I like learning new things and finding ways of using what I know to solve problems. I get in there and I go in deep to find out what the real issue is and then there is the juicy delight of finding a way of getting others beside myself to understand the solution. This is the reason I have been writing about strategy. It all starts there and if you have a problem with strategy, your owners or management team really need to sit down with the “why” question. When you’re clear on the “why” the strategy will come naturally. If you still need help to solve a complicated issue, don’t worry about it, you are welcome to give me a call. I’m eagerly awaiting the next challenge.