When you build a house, the foundation must be laid strong and straight. If it’s not, the framers try to make up for it. When they can’t, the drywall guys try to make up for it. When they can’t, the painters try to make up for it. When they can’t, you’re going to have to live with it. So rather than cause problems all the way up your structure, lay your foundations straight and true.
It’s been said that it’s not the journey of 1000 leagues that wears down the mighty soldier, but the tiny pebble in his shoe. Here are some philosophical considerations that can help lay the foundations for your business and make the journey less wearing:
1. Have you put yourself in your customer’s shoes? Does your product add value to your customer’s life? Is it dependably available? Are you willing to do what is necessary to provide exceptional customer service? How will you gain feedback and keep your product relevant?
2. Have you put yourself in your distributor’s shoes? Do you know why he would carry your product? Are you willing to help him sell it? Do you understand the processes involved? Do you know why his retail customers buy your product? It might not be for the reasons you think.
3. Have you put yourself in your own people’s shoes? What are their goals, expectations, and aspirations? What kind of training and direction do they need? Are you willing to write down policies and procedures? What kind of culture will you provide? Will they be compensated to perform?
4. Have you put yourself in your creditors’ shoes? Are you willing to provide honest communication even when you can’t perform? Are you concerned about their payables? Will your integrity give them a reason to increase your credit and terms? Would you lend money to yourself?
5. Are you willing to take a smaller slice of a larger pie? Are you willing to share in the increased profits with those who make it possible? Are you going to reduce the cost of turnover by providing financial opportunities to stay with your company?
6. Do you know how to make mistakes right? Will people be fired because they made a mistake? Will your staff hide mistakes as a result? Or will you reward those that solve potentially reoccurring mistakes by identifying how they were made and suggesting new documentation?
7. Do you understand that sales provide all the income for your business and pay all your salaries? Will you organize you company, pay structure, and culture accordingly? Will the customer be on top, then the sales and customer service people, then everyone else?
The answers to these questions will determine the philosophical foundation of your business. Everything else that follows is influenced and shaped by those answers. Make sure you have answered them honestly before you begin to structure your business. The journey is hard and long enough without a pebble in your shoe.