In the world of entrepreneurship, you’ll hear about the hustle and the hard work, the thrill of success and devastation of failure, and of course the guaranteed millions the ultimate Big Idea will deliver, and how fast it will be!
You encounter a lot of people sharing their Big Idea with anyone who will listen. They successfully market and even sell the product or service that is the idea. Yet, many don’t seem to get nearly as far as they had hoped.
It is not the quality of the idea. Many of the best ideas seem to remain relatively invisible and many lesser ideas gain traction.
Is reflection a part of the secret? Reflection the noun and reflection the verb.
Do the artists stand back to examine their evolving masterpiece?
Building an entrepreneurial company is analogous to nurturing living art. Do the colours clash? Do the sounds harmonize? Where are the edges a little angular or the acoustics not quite right?
Stand back and see how it is coming together. Consider where more work or detail should be applied – to the artwork and the business.
Do the entrepreneurs try to impartially consider the gains made, the current status and the gap to each important milestone?
How often do the founder, management or the team truly see, hear or experience the business holistically? Are they mired in minutia?
Where is their picture that presents all parts of the business, its performance and its potential in one place? Do they truly “get” what was, what is, and what promises to come based on the current trajectory?
The 4-Ps: all parts, performance, potential, in one picture.
How do you paint this picture, experience the story, hear the melody, or feel the rhythm for an entrepreneurial business?
- Start with the accounting records – “the books” the accountant prepares. Be sure they are up-to-date daily.
- Ask the CFO (or controller or accounting manager i.e. your senior “accountant”) to walk you through what those reports mean. You want a good understanding in simple language. One that you can use.
- Then add in some useful information, colour, sound, emotion, and context from the non-financial teams. Look for statistics and facts that will explain the 5 questions – why, what, how, when, where – and breathe life into the numbers.
- Why are sales $X and yet 80% of that value has not been collected from customers?
- What caused the 80% increase in sales from month 3 to 4? And how can we do that again?
- Should we plan to repeat that growth? What problems or benefits could result if it recurs regularly? …. Cash, people, time, supplies, contracts, equipment, and more?
- How fast will cash run out if nothing changes in monthly results? How fast if something does change?
- When must a funding raise be started?
- How much do errors on customer orders really cost?
- Where can the team plan to sell less and yet the business make more profit?
- Where could the engineers look at a design change, or an alternative, and benefit company performance or customer satisfaction?
- Who could initiate a beneficial action, relationship, or risk mitigation activity?
- What should have more spend that will decrease total costs?
If possible, once you understand the facts behind the questions, design some pictures for easier control: graphs, charts, ratios, key numbers.
Tools to look at every day, week or month. You want a small number of visuals, preferably on one page, which capture a good picture of the trend and current status, projected forward where useful.
Now … stand back!
Take a look at the integrated business performance. It truly is a work of infinite beauty. Reflect on where it needs a touch-up or some serious work.
Are any colours running, melodies off-key, dance steps off beat …. Hopefully no teams are following the wrong drummer.
Use your unemotional, impartial connoisseur lens (as best you can … this is hard!) and try to understand what is really happening in the company, and what you should do next … today, next week, next year …. to truly execute on your Big Idea.
Take your idea very far and make it even bigger.
If you would like some additional ideas take a look HERE.
If you want to discuss specifics of your Big Idea and masterpiece send me a note HERE.
Take some time this week to reflect.
Are your ideas evolving as beautiful living art? Or, are they just Big Ideas?
 Frequency will depend on what is being managed and the specific circumstance of the business.
 An experienced CFO or business coach has worked with these and can help in the design.