Start with the basics


In last month’s article I wrote about the role that passion plays in building businesses but cautioned that this alone is not sufficient to grow a thriving enterprise. There is no shortage of advice out there to tell aspiring entrepreneurs what they apparently must have in order to be successful, but what really matters and where do they go to find out how to access this information?

It is a seemingly paradoxical fact that people don’t start businesses because they’re good at business, they start them because they’re passionate about a product or service and/or have great skill or competency in the domain. Passion and competence are definitely prerequisites but not sufficient on their own to achieve a successful and sustainable business. Much in the same way that you can’t expect kids to learn new subjects properly unless they can read and write, so a business needs to have the fundamentals established so that it can grow sustainably.

What I have learned over the years is that the starting point should be a documented business strategy that defines where the company is going and what few things need to be done outstandingly well in order for the business to achieve its defined goals, i.e. the “basics”. This is best created on a single page to enable focus, keep things simple and should consider what I refer to as the “Six Foundations for Sustainable Business”:

· People and culture

· Finance

· Leadership

· Customer Focus

· Systems and Processes

· Marketing

Since we typically don’t have time to develop all of these to a great depth, what’s important here is that each one is considered with respect to where the business is going so that any required gaps can be identified. For example, the ‘Finance Foundation’ might answer questions like: “what sales revenue do I want to achieve this year?”, “how much profit do I need?”, “how should I define my company budget?” and “how will I monitor and report on financial performance?”. The ‘Marketing Foundation’ might address questions like: “how do I want to be perceived by prospective customers?”, “when should I have my web page available” and “to what extent should I make use of social media?”. Some of these may be tough to answer but at least surfacing these and thinking about what’s really important to the business will help prioritise your actions and enable you to develop a realistic and reasonable plan to achieve.

I often feel that the “basics” are critically overlooked, so since Marketing and Communications Specialist Ros Weadman and I are passionate about seeing local businesses succeed, on Friday 22nd November we will be hosting a “Vision 2020 Business Summit” to share practical tools and techniques that provide “Business Strategies to Turn Passion into Profit” and give attendees an insight into what’s required for a successful business (please go to for more information). We would love to see you there.

Ian Ash ACC, AInstIB

Managing Director OrgMent Business Solutions –