Start At The Top

By Deana Molinari PhD

The most frequently used strategy to building a business is the Start at the Top strategy.  This can also be the least effective to long term success. It all depends on your goals and self-assessment.

Business owners are often people who examine their strengths and jump into the competition for personal reasons. Common reasons include:

  • Do it my way
  • Control leadership
  • Save/earn money
  • Break a “ceiling”
  • Fill a need

The trouble is a new business is not a person. A business venture is a machine. The venture is a system of systems connected by gears. Once started, the machine will mow down the competition or the owner. The owner chooses where to set the systems’ gears for success. A start-up needs information as much as applying for a job at the bottom of someone else’s business. Decisions are only as good as the information gathered.

How could you self-assess before opening your doors?  common strategies. include: Search the internet for free surveys, pay for personality tests,  and talk with people who know you best.

Assessing the competition is a bit different. Self-knowledge is easier to gather. An owner needs to guess a bit when assessing others. Since everyone has a different perspective of others based on their own knowledge, self-assessment should begin with a study of personnel and then move to personal business organization. This beginning step can create a data based protocol for hiring.

Self-assessment covers several topics: Are you ready to master the challenge? What skills, resources, family/social/financial support are available? A self-assessment provides an outline of the holes in your business foundation. Gathering knowledge does not poke holes in your great business idea but informs you what you need to do before taking out a business license.

Examining your fear quotient before assessing will analyze how reliable your findings are. Fear blocks information from being useful. If people will run from the data, they will not deem the information reliable. This is like closing your eyes before crossing the street.                                                                                                                                                

Owners need their fearless character traits to face the truth. Make sure no one run away from challenges. There is no need to stop progress if an owner identifies a basic business supports wobbles.  Do not close your eyes during self-assessment. If you do not feel brave enough to fix the wobbly support-seek out more information to shore up the weakness. Information provides tools to justify decisions.

Categorize the information you gather: Definitions, sources of help, cost of help, estimated length of time to strengthen the existing weakness…. You get the idea. Information is a “key” to business growth, not a 2 X 4 bat to knock you down.

Use tests and surveys to explore your character traits. Entrepreneurs usually have similar traits and weaknesses. Adaptability, motivation, leadership and resourcefulness often exists and is needed for start-up; but there are so many more personality traits. Look at yourself closely. Like what you see and then ask: What stands out as a strength or need? The next step is to develop plans to support your identified needs.

Remember business is a machine. Its required parts include: sales, strategy, finances and planning, communication, management, and products or services. One of the most important parts of a start-up is you. You are fabulous and fearless; but you may not be everything your machine requires. Doing something new and different requires other traits.

Entrepreneurs are defined by many terms, some of them derogatory, but all of them vague. The individual owner is the only one that knows whether or not they have the understanding and skills to make the venture succeed.  Are you resilient? Are you motivated to find solutions during turbulent times? Resourceful and motivated are a nice combination when hurdles block your path. How much do you know about finances? This is an area that needs adaptability and often on the fly.  How organized are you? What are you willing to sacrifice to produce organized systems that communicate transparently with other business systems? These questions often depend on the leader of the business. The leader may or may not be the manager. Since there are many types of leadership, what do you know about yourself. Are you transformative, collaborative, dogmatic, community centered, laisse-faire? Or are you a manager. Your business needs both.

Your hunger for knowledge usually shores up the business machine because we live in an information age. This hunger must be fed often during the day; otherwise, you will be blindsided. Information is the king of all business ventures. Many new businesses were created to the ravenous information beast.

For instance, “knowing your competition” developed into giant corporate conglomerates. This add on business is often called the “intelligence business”. The big data corporations try to fill global needs by providing both experts and data management systems to keep up with the rapidly changing government tariffs and relationships, global trends, business consulting, just-in-time decision making, and marketing analysis.

Outline how each business section will work for you. Then seek out others who can help you make sure each piece is at its best before you begin service. There are many short courses to help you learn the language and system needs. A business owner needs to learn fast and steadily throughout business start-ups. Hiring others to do the job is an option once the owner understands himself and his competition.

Richard Branson on Entrepreneurship

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