If I could start over, I would separate issues like opportunity, business growth, improvement, and threats, etc., into two categories: external and internal. By separating them, they become much more manageable and easier to focus on, and I think knowing that back when I was starting out would have been a great advantage.
Internal: In order to grow a business and create long-term success, the owner has to realize that business growth and success depend on the fundamentals of business. So if I could start over I would have learned more about these fundamentals and how they would have helped grow my business faster and with more control.
I've learned over the years that these business fundamentals should be developed in sequential order. Here is a little information on each of them:
- Leadership. All success starts with the owner defining what success looks like by determining their success destination, and how the business will operate when it arrives at the destination. Every other fundamental that follows is derived from an owner's leadership.
- Management and Control. Moving the business from where it is today to where you want it to be tomorrow depends on achieving the goals and objectives which lead a business toward the destination. To support the goals and objectives, processes have to be created so you and your employees know where the business is as it moves towards achieving the objectives and goals. In other words, processes help employees attain success and pinpoint where the problems are that need to be solved.
- Protection of Assets. This includes all Balance Sheet items, like inventory and accounts receivables, and keeping them current. Writing off assets like account receivables and inventory can kill a business, or at the very least damage it. Protecting assets also includes non-balance sheet items, like customers and their continued loyalty to your business and employee turnover, training, and compensation.
- Planning. Planning defines how the business will meet its goals and when. The plan describes the 'blocking and tackling' needed to be done daily and the resources -- both people and financial -- to get the job done. Planning in most businesses doesn't work because the business lacks the leadership, the controls and processes, or the proper protection of assets in order to make the plan a reality.
- Marketing. In order to market effectively owners need the strategies and tactics of the plan in order to attract the right customers for the goods and services they sell... beginning by defining what customer group is the easiest and most profitable to attract first, second and third.
- The market battle -- or war zone. This begins with the owner understanding the cost of attracting a customer and not selling them, or retaining them. The market is simple to understand; its success versus failure, and needs all the fundamentals working together beginning with the most important one -- leadership.
And, lastly, it requires the owner to continually educate themselves on general business platforms like the financial statements, motivation, marketing strategies and customer identification, just to name a few. In order for a business to grow and improve the owner has to take the leadership role of improving their overall business knowledge.
Summary: In other words creating success is not just one thing but several business basics or fundamentals working together in unison formulated around and beginning with leadership... and that's definitely something I wish I had had a better understanding of when I was first starting out.