a Complete Business Development Machine
July 7, 2019
The Reason for Writing the Book:
I’m writing this book first to organize my thoughts, document them, and create a repeatable system that will make the process of business development straightforward and manageable for small business owners who wish to grow their businesses and increase its value; then share it with my clients and other small business owners.
The Purpose of the Book:
This book is about asking the owner of a small (1 to 50 employees) organization that services other businesses to consider making the business itself a valuable asset to sell for an amount that permits them to “do the next thing”. This “next thing” may be: invest in another business, retire, continue to work, give money to your children, some combination of all the above, or something else entirely.
(A.) In this sense, developing a business is very much like designing and building a product, only from this perspective, the business is the product. This is not meant to distract you from (B.), the love of your product or service, but to try to encourage you to consider keeping both thoughts in mind at once. Over time you may find that (B.) naturally subordinates itself to (A.). The better job you do with (B.), the more successful is (A.)
The more excellent your business is the more valuable it tends to be. It all turns out to be quite complementary.
It does require work, but it may not be as difficult as you think.a
“Let’s make it the very best product!”
Oh, and by the way, “Enjoy the process!”
It is not possible for me to recognize and thank all those who have contributed to this effort. Hundreds of customers over the past 35 years have been my teachers and mentors, as well as their accountants, bankers, attorneys, and employees. There are, however, several who stand out: Rudy and Alma Puissegur, my father and mother, who were not only my parents, but my employers for the first four years of my career in the Systems World. Ralph Rust, my first accounting professor, who became one of my closest friends; Fred Cubberly, my first and primary instructor in The American Production and Inventory Society (APICS); Robert Chapman, who convincingly demonstrated, after I had been selling for 20 years, that even sales was done better Systematically; and more recently, Michael Obrzut, a mentor and colleague who taught me, among other things, the meaning, importance, and use of Core Values in life as well as in business. It is Mike who arranged the material for chapters six through eleven, and it is his topical depictions that are used to outline it.
Now, I can not end this section without calling attention to and thanking Shane Daily of Shanora, LLC. Without his knowledge, guidance, and hard work, in creating this website (which is the platform for organizing my own thoughts as well as writing) I would never have begun. Shane perfectly balances the doing and the teaching. He did all the things I did not want to do or could not do. He taught me, and is still teaching me, everything I have the desire and ability to learn. If this sounds like a commercial for Shane, it is only because it is.
It must be stated that none of the information in the book is mine; one hundred percent of it I have learned from others; but still, I believe the arrangement and presentation of the topics may be different from what you may have seen, and therefore we hope valuable.
Finally, at the bottom this list (because underneath things we find the foundation supporting all that is above it) is my wife of forty-nine years, Coleen, from whom I have learned some orders of magnitude more than all the others combined.
What this book is about
This book is about getting you, the owner of a small business (1 to 50 employees) to see your business as a machine that should, when it is running at its best:
- Satisfy employees and customers
- Earn a profit
- Increase in value
All at the same time and better than a minimum of 80% of all the other businesses in the market in which you compete.
What this book does not do
Something this book does not do is make an engineer a better engineer; a machinist a better machinist; an architect a better architect,or a scientist a better scientist. It assumes that the owner knows their trade or profession and is already in the top 20% of their peer group.
What the understanding and acceptance of the ideas in this book does do
- Familiarize you with, and possibly teach you, some things about business that you may not have realized.
- Bring some things back to the conscious level of your mind that you may have forgotten, and present them in a way that encourages you to consider them from an entirely different perspective.
- Demonstrate how to see your business from 10,000 feet up (Strategically), while at the same time consider each individual interaction, event, and transaction that is within your reach, and regard and act on that (Tactical) thing with a strategic perspective as a guide.
The method used is the systematic construction and continuous refinement of a Complete Business Development Machine. This machine is used to assist and encourage you, the owner, to consider each everyday problem (a tactical hurdle) within the context of your overall Business Plan (strategy), and solve it with your overall plan in mind. This method consistently applied is like the phrase, “eating an elephant in small bites”.
How to get the most from the book:
- Read it from start to finish. However, if you find yourself stumped on a particular issue, you may seek help in the chapter that covers that issue.
- Keep it handy and use the sections as your ‘everyday problems’ (tactical hurdles) confront you.
- Keep the overall plan in mind.
The concepts considered here are not new; however, the arrangement and application of them I hope will make them seem so. I have found that results are best when they are understood as a system consisting of subsystems. There must be a single person responsible for the development, maintenance, and improvement of the system and each of its subsystems. This person must be primarily interested in the growth of the organization and the increase of its value, and therefore, is working primarily “on” the business, rather than “in” it. The process is most effective when guided by clear communication with accountability for each member of the organization.
For our clients, we may fill this roll for owners/CEOs who are frequently drawn into the day to day tactical aspects of their businesses. If you find that you lack the time to direct this process in a manner that you wish to see it done, and you have no one internally capable of doing the job properly, you may consider looking outside. When I work with a client it is generally with an owner, two to four hours per week, to ensure that progress is steady. The key here is steady (not rapidly). In many cases, an attempt to move rapidly will prove destructive. It is imperative for you, as the owner, to be involved. A great many tactical things can and should be delegated, but the Vision, Mission, Core Values, and Strategy must be yours.
Chapters One, Two, and Three are an overview, and provide a context in which we place the system along with its subsystems.
Chapters Four and Five address the role of Marketing and Sales for a small (1 to 50 employees) organization that services other businesses.
Chapters Six through Eleven address the subsystems (the relationship of the Rules to the Principles) and are, to a degree, self-contained. However, taken as a whole, each chapter increases in value as the others are understood and applied. You will find the effect has a cumulative impact in and on your organization as this continuous, iterative process causes a “critical mass” of knowledge to occur in your mind, as well as the minds of your team.
Many of the ideas discussed in the following pages that are intended for CEO/Owners complement or mirror what began as “Lean Manufacturing,” I adopted some of the vocabulary used by the “Lean” community. This was done intentionally to provide some additional ease of communication on both sides of that ever present “wall” that seems to separate Administration and Operations. Through the use of Principles, Rules, and Tools, I’ve laid out our system in what I believe to be an orderly fashion. I hope you find it helpful.
An Important Question, “Do you want to grow your business?”
I rarely get “No” as an answer to this question. But growing a business is a process that, due to its rigor on the one hand, and general lack of understanding of the requirements on the other make it difficult to answer. Still, it is rare to find one who is committed to make the changes and do the things necessary to successfully achieve growth and increased value of their organization. A colleague of mine, Mike Obrzut, occasionally reminds me that growth requires a good deal of effort, as does maintenance; declination and degradation require very little or none. “We are either growing our business or managing its decline.”
Finally, a thought
In the end, this is simply a system. There are three points about it that will prove valuable:
First, it is not a formula to be blindly followed without thought. It is a framework upon which a creative and intelligent person may build something strong and good that is their own.
Second, it, like any other system, will not perform as well as it could, or will even fail completely, if it is not used properly.
Third, used as intended, it will be powerful.