I was going to talk about some sales strategies. But I changed my mind. Instead I thought I would share an observation with you. One that I have made when comparing successful businesses to those that under-perform. And in so doing, identify one of the major mistakes made by business owners.

Before I start, I need to make something loud and clear! I have no intention whatsoever of trying to turn your business into a McDonalds or any other franchise. What I intend to do in this first newsletter is to set the scene for the opportunities that are available to you. Then in each future edition I will show you specifically what areas of your business to focus on and what changes to make.

So let's begin the journey!

Imagine this if you can. You are in your business. You're answering phones, talking with team members, fighting fires, juggling all the elements of your business at once - marketing, sales, management, operations, finances, cash flow, debtors, suppliers and more. You're extremely busy and you've just realised that you have forgotten to eat lunch again, and someone unexpected has just walked in the door.

Unfortunately that means you're going to have to spend time with them instead of completing the paperwork you really wanted to finish. Oh well, you'll take it home and do it tonight. Sound familiar? That is what working in your business means. Your in the midst of it and trying to handle everything and be everything to everybody.

Picture this instead. You've taken a few steps back from your business and you're looking at it objectively, saying "without me, what would happen? What do I want to happen ? what needs to be done to free me up from working in it all the time?" If your business were a lump of clay, what would you mould it into?

Just thinking about it you can sense the huge difference this could make. Imagine taking some time away from day- to-day tasks and looking at your business and the long-term. Think of the creative ideas for opportunities you could come up with! This is working on your business. The secret is not to work in your business, but to work on it.

Begin with the end in mind

Stephen R Covey, in his book, the seven habits of highly successful people, says to "begin with the end in mind." In other words, whenever you start a process, understand exactly what the point was before you start.  Think about that in the context of the business. How many business owners actually do that? Why did you go into business? Financial independence? To be your own boss? To spend more time with your family? Is this happening for you?

The fact is most of us jump or fall into business. Before we know it, we're so busy we have no time to think about what we want from the business, how it will be shaped and what it will be like the day we retire or sell it. End in mind thinking makes a profound difference. Let's take two different hamburger restaurants for example.

When Ray Croc founded McDonalds he had absolutely no intention of working behind the counter. In fact, he never even made a hamburger. He began with a different end in mind. He envisioned thousands of McDonalds stores around the world, each doing exactly the same thing in a predictable manner. Knowing that, he knew he wouldn't be able to work in them, therefore they would have to work without him!

He then developed processes and systems structured around how to hire people, the colour the restaurant should be, the way a restaurant should be managed, right down to the way they should heat the buns. All of this occurred by having a vision, determining what needed to be done to get there and then carefully going over every little detail.

Contrast that with owners who run a typical hamburger place.

They are doing it, doing it, doing it, every single day. And that is precisely because they didn't begin with the end in mind. They set up a business that depended on the owner doing everything.

Their only vision was of ordering the goods to make the hamburgers, doing the stock control, frying the fries, grilling the burgers, buttering the buns, wrapping it all up, ringing up the sale and hoping to make ends meet at the end of the day.

If as Michael Gerber points out in his book the E-myth revisited: Why most small businesses don't work and what to do about it, it's the myth that most businesses are started by an entrepreneur. Gerber suggests that most businesses are actually started by persons suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure.

That is, instead of creating a business that works, we create a business that is us. A business that often becomes all consuming. And worse yet, when it all becomes too much, we sell our most precious asset for far less than it would have been worth if we had started with the end in mind.

Consider again the true purpose of your business

But it doesn't have to be that way. There really is another path.

Consider again the true purpose of your business. Once you get the thought processes of beginning with the end in mind going, the true purpose comes out. Isn't the purpose of the business to create life - for you and for the people with whom you interact?

Creating the way we do it here

An important step to start working on your business is to simply develop systems for everything. A number of things happen when you do this. First, you don't have to perform the process. Second, it empowers your team members to take on more responsibility. And third, when you systemise, you automatically develop what we call "the way we do it here."

A central theme in Gerber's E- myth is that most businesses fail or never reach their full potential because the owners spend too much time doing the work that the business does, rather than managing and growing it.

Creating a systemised way of doing things not only makes the business run in a totally predictable way, it also makes your business worth much more because it doesn't have to rely on you to operate.

Think about this concept by comparing the local hamburger restaurant to McDonalds. In which company would you rather and shares? McDonald's, most likely. Why? Because McDonalds makes better hamburgers? Probably not. You pick McDonalds shares because the company works like clockwork no matter which restaurant you visit. They all have completely systemised processes that make them consistently high quality and very successful.

What happens when you get to the end?

If you really can begin with the end in mind, and create a systemised way of getting there, then it means that the business must have an end point. That is, there must be a point when you can stand back and say, "now it's finally done."

If at that point you decide to sell the business, you're handing over a business worth many times more than when you started, simply because you thought about and developed the systems that allow the business to function successfully without you. And if you decide to stay involved in the business in some way, you know that can function independently of you. It's not your life. You have developed a business that you're a part of. Yet you're still apart from it.

Walt Disney tells the story of being asked by a child if he drew Mickey Mouse. "I had to admit I do not draw any more," said Disney. "Then do you think up all the jokes and stuff?" asked the child. "No, I don't do that either," admitted Disney. Finally, the child looked at him and said, "Mr Disney, just what do you do? " "Well, sometimes I think of myself as a little bee," Disney explained. "I go from one area of the studio to another and gather pollen and sort of stimulate everybody. I guess that is the job I do."

Good thinking Walt! The legacy (the bits of pollen if you will) that Disney left behind still exist today - and will for a long time to come. He created systems and processes that resulted in an indelible "way we do things here" that includes empowered team members sharing a truly major culture and passion for what they do, and millions of happy customers who come back again and again.

Well that's it for now. Next time .. How to make 6 to 8 times more profit in a single sale.

Until then,
Mike Reddy