Some would argue that the essence of a successful business is building an operation that is profitable and sustainable over a long period of time. Others might say it’s effectively executing a business plan that delivers the intended ROI to investors/shareholders within a promised time frame. And yet another interpretation could be delivering great “value” to customers. Based on our experience, the essence of a successful business is likely all of the above – and more.

You could say the indispensable elements that comprise a solid, well-run business are Operations, Finance and Strategy. If one of these 3 legs of the stool is weak, the chance of failure increases, which could cause the entire stool (a.k.a. the business) to collapse. There may be a soft landing or it could be a hard one depending on whether the failure happens gradually or suddenly, but you’ll end up on the floor one way or another.

Whatever you feel defines the essence of your own successful business, you’ll likely agree that if you want your business to do as well as possible in 2023 you will:

  1. Need the finances to buy the materials and pay for the resources necessary to support and run your operations
  2. Need to run your operations as efficiently as possible to maximize productivity and profitability
  3. Be more likely to accomplish your business objectives by having a clear strategy for achieving them

You can STOP READING here if you are happy and satisfied with the strength of the 3 legs of the stool (Operations, Finance Strategy) on which your business is currently perched. KEEP READING if you feel like one or more legs might need some attention.

To help pinpoint whether there might be indicators pointing to a weak leg of the stool, consider the Four Stages of Competence, derived from the teaching model “the four levels of teaching” by management trainer Martin Broadwell.

Start your own internal assessment by determining where you think you are within these four stages when it comes to your company’s operational, financial and strategic direction. If you’re not sure, below are some “indicators” that can help point the way.

Unconscious Incompetence

  • Indicators:
    • You don’t have a business plan
    • There’s no time to plan or strategize
    • Most days are a fire drill where you are in “reaction” mode
    • Hard work mixed with a good dose of chaos is accepted as “the nature of the beast”
    • Your leadership team is unaware of many of the problems negatively impacting business

Conscious incompetence

  • Indicators:
    • You have a business plan but haven’t looked at it for over a year
    • There’s a sense that the business is not running as efficiently as it could and that this is negatively impacting growth and profitability
    • The possibility of not meeting payroll can sometimes keep you up at night
    • You feel a sense of frustration when dealing with problems that keep recurring and realize better processes are needed
    • You are aware of problems but unable to solve them

Conscious competence

  • Indicators:
    • You have established a good balance between planning and handling the day-to-day of running a business
    • Processes have been standardized and documented
    • You and your team are able to identify the cause of problems and resolve them
    • Executive and departmental leadership “habits & behaviors” necessary to maintain/increase operational efficiency, profitability and growth are not yet fully engrained … external coaching and guidance may still be needed

Unconscious competence

  • Indicators:
    • Leadership “Habits & behaviors” necessary for sustained operational efficiency, financial profitability and ongoing growth are now ingrained and automatic.

If you are unsure where your level of competency lies within the Operations, Finance and Strategy “legs” of your business – or how to strengthen them – consider participating in C Squared’s complimentary Guided Discovery process. A two-to-three-hour time investment helps you pinpoint your company’s strengths and deficiencies, giving you a greater level of understanding of your competencies and where your legs might need strengthening. Guided Discovery ensures your 3-legged stool supports your business in a way that sets you up to meet or exceed your objectives in 2023 and beyond.

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