I returned from a fantastic conference in Dallas Monday night. First, in the interest of honesty and transparency, I want to tell you that I didn’t follow my own advice. I kept horrible financial records of the money spent on airport shuttles, meals and incidentals. Now I will have to go back through five days of living expenses and sort the whole mess out or chalk it up to a loss. There, my conscience is clean.
The last day of the conference boasted Michael Gerber as the final keynote speaker. Michael is the founder of E-Myth Worldwide and considered one of the foremost experts on entrepreneurial and small business strategies. In all honesty, I really wish he would have been scheduled earlier in the conference. By the time Sunday rolled around, I had been there four days and was mentally drained. There were times while he spoke that I wasn’t even sure he was speaking English. But, he was and a few of the things he said stuck. I would like to share them with you.
The first thing that struck me as interesting is the motivation behind becoming a small business owner. He related how many folks will take the job they have, a graphic designer, for instance, and say they are going to start their own business. But they don’t, they simply create a job for themselves. Most small businesses fail, according to Michael, because the folks starting them create a job for themselves without considering the fact that they have to learn how to run a business. It is his opinion, so far as I understood, that most small business owners know nothing about actually running a business. They know lots of stuff about their job, but fail to recognize the importance of creating a structure that allows that process to function as an enterprise. Thus, they spend all their time, efforts and energy hustling for the work, doing the work and then hustling some more. This leaves virtually no time to develop strategy, structure, stability or growth.
Michael also challenged us to consider the question, "What’s missing?" In other words, what piece of the puzzle, part of the chain or step in the process is keeping a small business from running smoothly? Michael obviously believes strongly in the system of business. He argues that McDonald’s is the successful franchise that it is because the fulfillment process is always the same. Regardless of what McDonald’s you go into, there is the same system - consistent offering and price point, standard order placement method, typical payment method, constant way in which the requested product is produced and a predictable way in which the consumer receives the product. It is a system. The consumer knows what’s available, how to ask for it and how to pay for it. The people doing the job know the method in which to fulfill and deliver that order. Rarely do you see the owner of the franchise running around trying to manage the drive through, flip a hamburger or dish out the fries. He has people in place to perform those functions so that he can handle the business of running his business and creating strategy for growth. Moreover, you for sure don’t see President of McDonald’s USA, Don Thompson, doing these things. According to his executive biography, his duties are "for strategic direction and overall business results of 13,700 restaurants in the U.S." He is handling the business of doing business.
I think that the point is that, although you started in business for the purpose of producing your passion, you have to remember that you still started a business. While it is important to stay on top of your game and knowledgeable in your field, you have the responsibility to ensure that you are, at all times, operating a business. Anything outside of that puts you at a high risk of failure. Of course, I would love to hear what you think about it.
April Groves covers all things business for the Bryan County News. You can send thoughts, press releases, tips and questions you’d like answered to agroves@bryancountynews.