New balls please!

There is a science behind building a successful business. A formula. A process. Much like building a bridge, or a car or a house.

It starts with planning and preparation, collecting the resources and raw materials required and assembling them in the right order so that they all fit together. In manufacturing it’s called design engineering.

But very few business owners follow the process needed to build a business and become successful entrepreneurs. Their planning and preparation is poor, they omit essential resources and their design is flawed.

It’s like trying to build a house without an architect, plans and groundworks. But then to build a house you have to comply with building regs. Why are there no regulations for building a business? Isn’t it outrageous that most new businesses fail and that after 10 years, four out of five are no longer in business.

If 80% of new houses fell down there’d be an outcry.

But it doesn’t need to be like this. All the skills needed to build a successful business exist and can be learned. So I isn’t it intriguing that so many businesses are started with little design and inadequate resources.

Just to be clear I’m not suggesting that to be successful in business you should sign up for a MBA or business degree. Far from it. I don’t have much time for these either. Particularly today when our ridiculously expensive higher education (unless you live in Scotland or Wales) is, in most cases, unfit for purpose and only delivers debt-ridden graduates most of whom struggle to find a better job than they could have gained anyway with decent A levels.

But back to the point of this blog. Businesses fail because of the ignorance (and yes, sometimes the greed) of their owners and managers. Becoming a successful entrepreneur is hard….don’t let anyone tell you otherwise….but the skills you need can all be learned. It takes time, discipline, humility and persistence, and above all it takes a willingness to think and learn – the two traits that are missing in all failed businesses.

Here are the seven skills needed to get started on the entrepreneurial journey:

  1. Determining your purpose, vision and core values;
  2. Creating a strategy and business plan;
  3. Designing a sustainable business model;
  4. Knowing and understanding your numbers;
  5. Getting and keeping customers;
  6. Transitioning through the stages from technician to manager to entrepreneur (read Michael Gerber’s E-Myth);
  7. Managing growth of a business.

None of these skills can be learned solely in the classroom or from books, but none of them can be mastered without time in the classroom and from books…and practice.

Tomorrow is the start of Wimbledon fortnight (one of my favourite times of year – if you have never visited during the tournament put it on your bucket list now); most of these top players will play 3-4 matches or less before they are eliminated having spent over ten times as much time practising.

Becoming a success requires a combination of learning from the best, thinking, reading, failing, training and practice….every day.

Noel Guilford, Principal at Guilford Accounting
Noel Guilford is the principal of Guilford Accounting a small business accountancy practice specialising in advising owner-managed businesses on current accounting, finance, and tax matters. You can reach him via email at noel@guilfordaccounting.co.uk or by phone at 01244 660866. He is the author of the 'Figure it out - an entrepreneurs guide to understanding your business numbers' which you can obtain by visiting guilfordaccounting.co.uk.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ His latest book, How to Build a Successful Business' will be published in 2018.

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