One of the first things I hear when I walk through the door of a small business from the owner or owners is “our business is unique.”
Most of the time they are under the impression and belief that somehow their company is extremely unique and if you have not worked in their specific trade or function for the previous 20 years, you could not possibly comprehend what they do or how they do it from a business standpoint.
Let me give you the short answer to that thought. “Your business is not unique!”
Your widget or your services may be extremely unique (and it should be marketed as such), but the business side of what you do is not unique at all.
That may be hard to hear for some people and some people may not agree, but having been inside of thousands of small companies across the United States, I will again say, “Your business is not unique.”
The dynamics of business that develop on an internal and external basis are fairly consistent and will usually produce very similar results for owners regardless of what type of business they own. The human dynamics that develop on an internal basis can be devastating if they go unchecked.
A small business is made up of many different components. Examples could be financial, operational, sales & marketing, human resources, communications, equipment and attitudinal directions.
There are a lot of moving pieces and parts for small business owners to coordinate on an ongoing basis. If any or all of these areas are out of sync or have not been properly designed, the owner or owners will not be able to produce the best results with their company.
If each individual business was truly unique, GAAP accounting could not exist because the CPA’s would have to have hundreds of different methodologies for taxes and financial tracking.
Recently, I went into a company and was met with the typical “our business is unique” I responded by saying, “I understand. Can I ask you a few questions?”
I asked the owner the following questions:
- Do you have employees in this company? The owner indicated that yes, he did.
- Do you keep track of your financial results and produce income statements & balance sheets? The owner indicated that yes, he did.
- Do you have accounts that owe you money for your services A/R? The owner indicated that yes, he did.
- Do you have suppliers & vendors that you owe for their products and/or services A/P? The owner indicated that yes, he did.
- Do you have to sell and/or market your products or services into the marketplace? The owner indicated that yes, he did.
- Do you sometimes experience problems because the communication was not as clear as it could have or should have been? The owner indicated that yes, he did.
- Are you trying to make a profit from your business? The owner said, "Well, yes I am."
- The final question I asked the owner was, "Please explain again to me, why your business is unique?"
A business' product or service may be extremely unique, but business is business is business. Once that concept is understood, an owner can concentrate on the dynamics that may be plaguing the underlying company and begin to address the real business issues at hand. Too many times, owners don’t seek solutions because they believe they are too unique to really accomplish their goals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Terry McGill is a small business consultant and managing partner of Strategic Business Directs.