I live in a beautiful area with rolling hills and open spaces. It’s a great place to walk for exercise and relaxation. Recently, on one of my walks, I passed a couple looking at one of the homes for sale. They asked if they could ask me a few questions and I was glad to help them. They wanted to know about the area and more specifically about the foundations of the homes in the neighborhood. They had a concern that there might be problems with the foundations and wanted to know my thoughts, since I was familiar with the area.
I shared with them that there were in fact homes in the area that have had or do have foundation problems. The homes are built on black clay which is well known for expanding and contracting, based on the moisture level. In those homes where the time was taken to build a solid foundation there are no problems. Those homes that didn’t have solid foundations were a constant source of problems.
Starting and growing a professional practice or business is very much like a well-built house on a firm foundation. If you start with a solid foundation, the chances for success are much greater. If you don’t start with a solid foundation, there can be a constant source of problems and frustrations.
The gold standard for a well-built structure for any new business is the business plan. Most reputable business plan models include sections on marketing and branding strategy, sales strategy, organization structure/management, opportunity analysis, and a financial plan. In addition there is a summary that includes purpose and overview of the new business. These are the pillars or framework of a well-built business, but remember, a well-built house on a shaky foundation will be a source of problems and frustration.
I think business plans are a good idea and I recommend them, but (and this might be controversial to some) the business plan is not enough. While the business plan is the structure, it needs to be on a firm foundation. That firm foundation is a comprehensive understanding of your personal traits. Personal traits include behavior styles, motivators, talents, skills, and unique character strengths. Each area provides valuable information that can literally change the way you see and manage your business.
As an example, understanding what motivates you can give you new perspective on your purpose. If you ask a business or practice owner what motivates them, most would say money, yet money is rarely the only influencing motivator. And many business owners are motivated for reasons other than money. If you are starting, or own a business, don’t you want to do it for the right reasons?
At some point you are going to have to sell something, whether it’s a product, service, idea, or yourself. Understanding your personal behavioral style gives insight into your selling style and even how to spot your client’s buying style. Regardless of your sales training background, you have a selling style, and if you stay in that style, research tells us you will not match up with 55% of the population (best case scenario). Knowledge of your behavioral style is crucial for selling effectively.
What about your strengths? Understanding what you like to do and how you like to work carries a whole host of benefits, including: more creativity, resilience, personal growth, quicker goal attainment, and more satisfaction with life. And if that’s not enough, somewhere in the process you need to understand and develop your leadership style and ability to communicate effectively with others.
Sadly, most professional practice owners and business owners don’t build this foundation for their business. Today, it is so much easier with ongoing research, assessment tools, and professionals trained to help you answer the questions that can have a profound impact on your success.
The good news, it’s not too late. Like I told the couple; check the foundation. If it’s solid, you will be okay.