Archives For August 2013

“40 million dollars, the whole global market is only 40 million dollars.” said the self proclaimed “old gray hair” and my long-term mentor across the table after reading my report on the market size of the company we were involved with. With a heavy sigh he simply said “the business DNA just sucks”.

Every business has a DNA… similar to human DNA… and that DNA sets the scope and global potential of the business.

Just as I will probably never play Major League Baseball as my personal DNA has set my baseball skills capacity at a maximum of “Little League Coach”…  some businesses simply don’t have the DNA to match the leadership team or owners short and long term expectations. Like opening a Hot Dog stand on a rural route, in a “city” with a population of  700. Even if that business hit it out of the park and was as successful as it could possibly be… the owner would likely be grinding it out for the rest of their life simply to get by. Yet entrepreneurs do it everyday with high expectations of business success.

I have met and spoken with a number of entrepreneurs who have big dreams and high expectations for their business ideas.  I applaud them and firmly believe that success is achievable if you are willing to put in the time and effort. But, decisions some entrepreneurs make in the heat of the moment as they file their state and federal tax ID forms bring me visions of a Vegas wedding to someone you just met.

Before you get involved with or start a business, take a minute to examine the DNA of that business and picture very clearly in your mind what the absolute maximum potential for success that business may have. Then, work backwards to clarify what is going to be required to get there, what is the time frame, the financial requirement, what is the longevity of the business, and the market response necessary for that success.

Most recently I was contacted by a Dentist who was looking for distribution for his new “battery powered toothbrush cleanser”. A simple contraption that was designed to clean the microbes from a toothbrush between brushings. He had left a thriving dental practice, and invested his life savings, to pursue his dream of manufacturing and selling his invention.  He had hit the wall and was becoming frantic trying anything and everything to get his product to market. He was a victim of poor business DNA. Not only is the market size for toothbrush cleansers about as large as a hot dog stand, his invention was more expensive than existing products, bulky, and had low margins. His business DNA just sucked.

Some things you can change within a business, with good leadership, talented people, and personal growth the “lid” on the business can move up. But, recognize and examine the DNA of a business before you take that first leap, it may save you from a nasty divorce with your Vegas bride.

“What got you here won’t get you there.” – Marshall Goldsmith

I had a conversation recently with a local business owner we occasionally contract work to and have since the company was founded. He shared with me how amazed and confused he was at how well our company had grown, even despite the “recession”. I responded simply, “Individual growth equals company growth”.  He looked at me as if I had just shared with him the location of the lost city of Atlantis.

It is a simple concept, that you as the business owner or team leader, as well as the people around you can only grow the company if you are growing personally.

So what is personal growth? Personal growth occurs when an individual intentionally sets out to improve their knowledge and skills in order to move themselves closer to their true potential. As a leader you have to not only set yourself on an intentional path of personal growth, but you have to create an environment that supports the growth of your team.

Without personal growth, people lack inspiration, they become stagnant and their work suffers. Additionally, simply doing the same thing they did yesterday isn’t going to produce better results today than it did yesterday; we have to grow and develop daily to create improved results.

I have talked to a lot of business leaders who say they have a “growth plan” for their teams.  Usually it involves the entire team reading the same sales or customer service book and meeting to discuss it, or attending a class or lecture together.  While this is good, true growth occurs on an individual level; hence “personal” growth.

I try to work with each of my team members to find the area of growth that inspires them and will most benefit them individually.  While I may focus on leadership growth, they may be inspired by learning about improving communication, science, business models, philosophy, public speaking, or video production. Finding what inspires each individual is what keeps a team motivated, as well as dynamic when brainstorming or approaching issues as a team.

Personal growth must be individualized, intentional, expanding of one’s capabilities and contributions, and start with curiosity. Create a personal growth environment and your business will grow with the people.