How Will You Shape Your Business?

by Brad Harmon on August 13, 2010 in Leadership

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What’s the biggest factor in determining whether a business will fail or succeed?  Is it financing?  Perhaps, it’s having a solid business plan?  Maybe, it’s having an innovative idea or product?  All of these are important, but there’s something that trumps everything.  It’s you – the entrepreneur!

Every organization is indelibly marked by their founder.  You can see the impact they make on it even after they’re long gone from the day-to-day management and decision making.  This impact is like the grooves that a heavy cart makes as it travels its way down the same dirt road time and time again.

After a while, there’s no need to steer the cart because these grooves keep the wheels in place.  While you could steer the cart out of these grooves it’s very easy for it to fall back into them again.  This is like your impact as an entrepreneur.

Putting the Cart Before the Road

I guess I’m getting ahead of myself.  As we continue the 20 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Creation series, we move to second verse (and lesson) of Genesis.

2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2, KJV)

Even though our businesses start with God, we find ourselves with a canvas that is empty and waiting for us to fill it using the talents and vision with which He has provided us.  It’s like that dirt road before the cart started traveling on it.

Where Will You Lead Your Cart?

In verse 2, God had to decide where he was going to take His creation.  The same is true with you as an entrepreneur.  God provides you with everything you need to start your business, but He’s not going to do it for you.

It’s up to you to take these resources and start building, but before you begin you need to have a plan.  How will you implement the vision He’s given you?  Even more important, how will you articulate this vision to your people?

18Where there is no vision, the people perish: (Proverbs 29:18a, KJV)

Great leaders are able to give their people a vision of where they are going and what they are struggling to achieve.  Many businesses fail because their owners either let them spin their wheels until they’ve dug their own graves or let them wander aimlessly always changing course to an unknown destination.

It’s not lack of effort from their people that killed the business.  Their people were working tirelessly but couldn’t be productive.  People can only go on so long this way until they become disheartened and give up.  You must be able to provide them a clear vision and get them to share ownership in your vision.

How Will You Lead Your Cart?

Once you’re able to articulate your vision and provide direction to your people, the next thing you have to decide is how you will lead them.  Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty?  Or will you be a hands off leader?

Both styles of management have their merits and flaws.  Most entrepreneurs don’t put much thought into this decision though.  They just do whatever comes naturally.  Few ever realize what impact this truly has on their business until it’s too late.  Did you notice the second half of the verse above?

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2b, KJV)

Your management style is much like the spirit of your business.  It moves upon every facet of your business molding how decisions are made and work is performed.  It becomes the unwritten guide to how your business runs despite what’s in the policy and procedures manual.

How Are You Shaping Your Business?

We all start at that same spot without form and void (or empty).  When we give serious thought to the impact that we’ll have on our organizations before we form them, then we get to choose what groves we place into the dirt road.

This allows us to grow a business that can stay true to its foundation.  Much like raising children, it’s the lessons we first impress and reinforce upon it that have the most lasting impact – just like those grooves.

6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6, KJV)

So how are you shaping your business?  If you didn’t start well, don’t be discouraged.  It’s possible to create new grooves, but the longer you wait, and the bigger your business grows, the harder it will be.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chad Galbreath August 14, 2010 at 7:12 am

Great blog on the importance of knowing where we are going and answering some hard questions before we just blindly move forward. Many times we get a great idea but dont count the cost before moving forward and so we have many uncompleted projects that over time begin to chip away at our confidence that we could start and finish an dream we have always had.
Chad Galbreath recently posted..Top 5 Daily Tasks


Brad Harmon August 14, 2010 at 10:04 am

Great point Chad. Christ even mentions the importance of sitting down to count the costs before you start a project.

28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. (Luke 14:28-30, King James Version)

I like your insight into the toll unfinished projects take on our confidence as leaders. Thanks for the comment.


Khaleef @ KNS Financial August 16, 2010 at 6:51 pm

This is a very good post. Especially thinking about how our management style and our work ethic will ultimately form and shape our business. I’m glad you brought this out – especially since I’m still trying to build a foundation!
Khaleef @ KNS Financial recently posted..The Sufferings of Some of the Early Christians – Devotion


Brad Harmon August 17, 2010 at 2:32 am

I think it’s Stephen Covey that says to begin with the end in mind. Many companies have spent a lot of time and money trying to change the culture and standard operating procedures set by their founder after he/she is no longer with the company. It’s one of the hardest tasks to accomplish when merging companies too. Thinking about these issues while you’re still building your foundation is a great place to be.


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