Top of mind for 2007.
This last year closing unlike the past two years in my blog below, i didnt do an end of year wrap up but 2006 was another very good year!
Very briefly, my view from working with some super people starting and/or driving to grow exisiting businesses, my view is stronger than ever that the stages of "getting in, getting on and getting out" are key mind sets to be aware of, either self aware or for when you are on the look out in others.
What i feeel even more now is that three other area's of focus really are key to grow a small comapny:
1. Investment readiness - can you bear the risk or advocate to others why your growth can and should be backed with hard cash, what does it take and what will you give to make it happen.
2. Operational readiness - do you have the people, the products the markets and do you develop them all properly. How do you match supply and demand here, internally and externally. How do you ensure the detail and the environment is right.
3. Exit readiness - do you know what it takes to propell your business to the next level and propell yourself and others at the key inflection points. Exit can loop round to 1. above or it can mean anything from MBO to IPO or simply succession but it has to be embraced in advance.
Now more than ever i see very clearly how the two critical issues of acquiring new customers and new staff is the real test of any founder and mangement team. Sales is strategic! HR is strategic! That means is it needs time, focus and planning. Get it wrong and you pay heavily. What strategic doesnt mean is that its grandioso, its about common sence and core skills.
SALES doing the grunt work, doing the smart work, doing whatever it takes with energy,courage and determination. Sales planning, management, selling. Accountability and responsibility with agility.
HR at the first level your first employee or partner is such a critical issue. Do you understand if a good person is actually a good fit for your business. Do they know what it means to be a startup or to be a small business and can they grow it and grow with it. Dig deep!
Its often the case that smaall business get suck with both sales and HR and it costs with endless iterative cycles of learning.
Finally, I feel the issue of simplying looking at how well you understand supply and demand around the model of your business is so powerful yet simple. It comes down to a mind set of; infomation/data -> Thinking/planning -> actions/execution. Pay attention to the basics, management and leadership, you will know what is the problem!