Building a business is like constructing a house. You want to build your home on a solid foundation and then make it your own by personalizing it with your strengths, maybe interior design, painting or decorating, and outsource the areas that are your weaknesses, perhaps plumbing, roofing or electrical wiring. In the same way you want to build your business around your strengths and where you have weaknesses you should look into outsourcing work. So what areas are you strongest in? What are your business’s strengths? Sometime these two things start off being one and the same, but as you add more to the mix of your business than just you, the business develops its own strengths and the business should be built around those.
As a business owner one of the very first things you should do is remove yourself from the role of the technician, or craftsman, and put yourself into the role of CEO, or business builder. What are you, your people and your assets really good at?
Start with your natural gifts.
What is it that you seem to be able to do effortlessly, without even thinking, and always seem to do better than most people? What do people compliment you on for having an uncanny knack at? Most people can easily understand natural physical talents like running, jumping, singing, and dancing. However, business strengths are more often intangible like problem solving, strategic thinking, relationship building, speaking, sales, number crunching, deal making, or finding and motivating the right people. Whatever your business strengths are, make a list of them and put it on a post it note on your desk with a header saying – Remember to focus on your strengths. We are raised and taught to focus primarily on and fix our weaknesses, but this is often a waste of time. Getting too caught up in our weaknesses leaves us with too little time left over to focus on our strengths and on cultivating them further. It is your job as a business owner to cultivate self knowledge of and enhance, your mental talents. We are all different and there are some things that you are just never going to be good at, so rather than beating yourself up about your lack of fortune in one area, start spending more time doing what you are best at. It is more fun and more productive. Next, who else in your business has natural gifts that tie in with your company’s value proposition?
Education is everywhere, what have you picked up?
Formal education and informal learning gained through experience comes from your schooling, your mentors, reading books, attending seminars, audio programs and every other way you can tap into information that is already prepared for you in some form or another. While growing up you probably noticed that some people excelled at math, others excelled at English, and for some gym was what they performed best at. One of the reasons why people excel in a particular area is that they have inborn talents in that area. However, if not exposed to experience and education on how to use their talents, they may not discover them on their own. This is why it is important to seek out learning everywhere. You may think you have a pretty good handle on your strengths at this point, but you never know when you might happen upon some latent talent that you were previously unaware of. Just as a business can never stay static, neither can a business owner who wants to flourish. What you derive from your education is determined by what your natural talents are, and what you end up being truly brilliant in depends on both. Your natural talents are really the foundation to your success in all areas. Encourage your employees to cultivate an eye for continuous improvement as well. Create a culture of sharing and learning. Realize that mistakes happen and each one holds a rich lesson. The lesson is the gift, it comes wrapped in the mistake. Don’t toss away the mistake too quickly without taking the time to unwrap, analyze and learn from that gift. No business or person does things one hundred percent right all the time, every time. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but make sure to learn from your experiences.
Experience is everywhere. Given observations you have made, what have you learned throughout your life on how to do things? The experienced salesman is different than the well schooled novice in that he/she always knows the right words to say. They also know when to be quiet and how to use silence as a tool to apply pressure and when to go in for the close. They know this through experience not by remembering what some book said to do. This is what has allowed them to develop the strength of selling. Let your team share learning so they can all grow smarter faster. That should be one of the economies of scale you look for as you grow your company.
Hone skills to fulfill your true potential.
As a business owner, you should commit to being a lifelong learner. Always growing yourself will help to keep you on your toes when it comes to always growing your business. Skills are abilities that have been refined over time using well guided practice. Skills are more tactical in nature than raw talents. Develop skills in areas where you have interest and a natural propensity to excel. There are a number of ways you can develop new skills from self guided learning to instructional methods. When looking to further develop natural abilities into more solidly honed skills, many people find it useful to get a coach. A coach is someone who can give you honest, unbiased and constructive feedback and guide you in the direction to make the best use of your gifts. Taking a class is another way to learn in a more structured environment. Skills can be cultivated in any area, but the areas where you have a natural foundational talent will lend themselves to more rapid progress. So don’t let your exuberance for learning get you sidetracked. Remember your focused strategy and let your personal development be guided by it. Have a training plan for each of your employees. They should always be learning. This will help the employees and by extension the business, so you will win twice on this investment as a business owner. Don’t skimp on training. Keep your people sharp and improving. This way you’ll also be sure to attract the kind of people that want to be their best, and those are the ones you want.
When you are building a business think as you would your house. Whether you plan to live in it for a long time or sell it to someone else and move on, think of it like your house and how much you want things to go right and be perfect. Then remember that you can’t do everything yourself, but you can leverage your strengths and bring in others to do the same and by doing that you will build the best business you can build. For more information on how you can strengthen your business visit www.flourishingbusiness.com.
Elizabeth Gordon, founder and President of The Flourishing Business, LLC, is a visionary leader who has a passion for helping others achieve their entrepreneurial dreams and enjoy more of the best in life. With a vast and diverse background in many business arenas, Elizabeth regularly has the opportunity to share her business acumen with clients, large and small. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Atlanta and the Board of Directors of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Atlanta. She is an Accredited Executive Associate of the Institute for Independent Business (IIB) and a certified Life Coach.