3 Ways Generative Thinking Can Increase the Number of Businesses You Own

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Most of us don’t think about having many businesses with our name on them when we start out as business builders. We like the independence and prestige of owning our own business, so we work and work to keep paying the bills and perhaps, make a little profit in the one enterprise we have. I have a suggestion. Take a few moments to think about what could happen if you visualize several businesses from day 1. What would you do differently? What would you plan for? What steps would you take to build more than one business? How would the activities you engage in change?

Did you think about making sure that the same qualities of excellence and efficiency were carried out in all your businesses? Did you consider the kind of people you would need in each place? Did you consider what budget levels you would need to add a new business each time? There is a lot to think about if you want your business to grow and make a great impact to society in several locations.

Even if you don’t want to have several businesses with your name on them, using a growth and replication perspective can make your business stronger, more profitable and best of all, give you time to do other things. Your main purpose for starting your business was independence, achieving your purpose and financial freedom. With this financial freedom, you see yourself enjoying life. However, more than three quarters of all small businesses never achieve all of these goals. They may enjoy independence and purpose but financial freedom is still far away and there is hardly any time to really enjoy doing other things in life. Most spend many hours just keeping the business alive.

“There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.” Ronald Reagan, Actor and 40th President of the United States

The mindset required for building multiple strong businesses is call “generative thinking”.Generative thinking is the ability to hold a grand vision in mind while designing multiple definitive enterprises. In other words, your business building efforts are designed with the intent to repeat successful processes in several locations. It’s a growth and replication perspective. Initially, you may add one or two locations to your current enterprise and as they are successful, you will add more.

Does this sound like something from outer space? Are you wondering what kind of green tea I’m drinking? It’s true. You can actually plan to own several businesses with proven procedures.

Following are 3 basic things you will do as a generative manager:

First, you must have a deeply embodied and personal business Purpose. There must be a strong emotional and intellectual attachment to your Purpose or Mission. Kyle Zagrodzky in “7 Reasons Why the ‘Why’ is So Important in Business” explained the role of a Purpose with a clear analogy.

“Light moves in mysterious ways. A single beam of light can do a million different things depending on what it reflects through or onto. If you shine a ray of light into a crystal, you can see rainbows on the wall. Shine light onto a mirror, and you can project the beam into a dark corner. Tilt a prism just right, and you get one solid ray of rainbow colors. Focus a single laser beam just right, and you can slice steel.

Rediscovering the why in your business is like honing the laser to a razor point that’s sharp enough to cut through metal. The why isn’t just the reason you do what you do, it’s the consistent reminder that keeps you grounded, energized and focused. It’s your cause, your purpose, your motive and your proof. The why is the core belief in what you do.”

Your Purpose will take you through the disappointments, failures, and various difficulties that are normal parts of business building. Each time you experience a negative situation, you’ll be reminded of the ‘why’ you started the business. You’ll keep going.

Second, you will design a big Vision. This is a visualization of the ultimate outcome of your business building efforts. A good Vision is thoroughly designed and describes the dreams that you have for the enterprise(s) you are creating. A well thought out Vision has the following characteristics:

  1. It exhibits the purpose and direction of the business.
  2. It is supported by the established Values.
  3. It helps to set operational standards of excellence.
  4. It is believable and motivating.
  5. It is ambitious and challenging.
  6. It identifies the uniqueness of the business.

Your Vision is what your business will become in the future.

Third, your business strategy will be achieved through well designed Systems.  This is the primary component that will make your enterprise repeatable. Without tested and enforced Systems, your dream of many businesses can’t be achieved. Small businesses that succeed, develop systems of operation for almost every function performed. See “The E Myth” by Michael Gerber and “Stick With It” by Lee Colan. 

Business systems are activities performed in a consistent manner to achieve the business goals. Creating systems simply starts with documenting what you do and how you do it. It could be called an operations manual or a systems manual or some unique name that might come to you, but the object is to document the successful operations that you want to make routine.

“Organize around business functions, not people. Build systems within each business function. Let systems run the business and people run the systems. People come and go but the systems remain constant”

Michael Gerber

With effective dedication, planning, perseverance and resolve, you can become the owner of from 1 to 1000 businesses. The most important ingredient is how dedicated you are to your ‘why’.

Kyle Zagrodzky nailed it again when he shared:

“Sometimes, we just want to start something from the ground up, because there is no challenge like it. When things are first getting off the ground, entrepreneurs have to become experts in everything, from finance to marketing and everything in between. It’s an uphill climb like no other, and genuine entrepreneurs thrive on the drive required to crest that hill. Whatever the longest, worst day throws at you, it’s never, ever going to be dull.”

A simplified and clear starting point is to read and apply “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

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The Significance of a Business Vision and Strategy for Success in the Innovation Economy

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“You can influence your future, but you need 1. A future Vision—clear Vision of where you’re going 2. A sound strategy to get there. 3. Tools to persuade key people to commit to a shared Vision. 4. Effective execution” The Extreme Future, James Canton

James Canton predicts that extraordinary levels of wealth will be available for individuals in the impending Innovation Economy. Business ventures will achieve levels of success that exceed anything we have seen to date. To prevail in our turbulent environment, business owners must possess a deeply ingrained Vision and a well designed strategy to get you to that Vision. In other words, you must make a strategic path through the chaos.

Your thoroughly considered Vision will be your anchor.

Design a clear and explicit Vision

Your Vision is what you become in life. Tony Dungy

Great business leaders are deeply concerned about the future and realize the impact they can have with their business. They realize they can help create the future they desire to have. According to Rich Campe “ All action must start with a thought – the thinking. Just as all life starts with a seed, all actions and results start with a thought. He calls the holder of the seed “the first believer”. There lies the seeds of greatness.

Building your business will require you, the founder, to perform as the “Vision Keeper”. You can do this acting as the leader, using art and management. As you perform these tasks, you will constantly keep your adopted Vision in mind. You, as founder, are carrying the “seed” of your new business. Don’t lose it. Nurture and protect it. Of course a Vision might change somewhat because of environment or innovation, but it’s the founder or “Vision Keeper” who carries the fundamental seed regardless of the influences.

A workable Vision is characterized by specificity. The “holder of the seed’ takes time to carefully visualize, through the imagination, and write a description of what the business will look like in the future.

Examples could be:

-In 5 years, we will have 50,000 customers

-We will have four locations in the cities of Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, and New York

-We will make full use of available AI and other technological advances.

-We will be a leader in our industry

-We will have teams of creative and visionary people

In other words, you’ll need to think of as many details as possible to describe your Vision of the future. I’m sure you can already see how describing the specifics of your Vision will influence what you do on a daily basis in your business. You will work toward creating your desired future.

Most founders create a slogan or short representation of their Vision. This is what you will see displayed around the business to remind all affiliates of where the enterprise is going. Microsoft’s Vision statement is an excellent example. “There will be a computer on every desk running Microsoft software.” This Vision has probably changed a little by now, but it carried this company a long, long way.

Develop a strong Management Strategy

Determine how you and your affiliates will conduct yourselves. This involves determining what “Core Values” are important to your Mission. Core Values can be thought of as the “glue” that holds your organization together. They are the elements that make up your business culture and the character of all of your activities. The essence of how you do business. Do you personally value excellence, integrity, or empathy? These could become some of your important Values. Values support your business Mission and Vision and they also help define how you carry out your day to day operations. Core Values help your business operations run smoothly and, if they are understood, promoted and practiced, will strengthen and sustain your business.

Clearly outline what you want to do. What activities will you engage in on a daily basis? What are your short and long term goals? You will need to set up Systems to follow, if you are experienced in your discipline. You will need administrative, financial, marketing Systems and others according to your business needs. Brief lists of “steps to take” for each System will be adequate for start ups. You can get more detailed as you grow. If you’re not experienced in your chosen discipline, research successful Systems to duplicate initially. Plan to improve, change or eliminate Systems as your business grows. However, try to keep all of your operations as simple as possible for easy enhancement and control.

Determine how you will measure success. We have many ways to measure our finances, product/service quality and customer satisfaction. There are software and apps available to suit every budget. Research the best companies and how they measure progress in your industry to save time and gain more accuracy. You, as founder, will determine what indicators will show whether or not you have reached your targets. You will constantly need to determine if your Systems are performing as expected. According to Mike Kappel in ”6 Ways to Measure Small Business Success”, you will need to carefully study your financial statements, check customer satisfaction, count your new customer growth, and check your employee performance goals regularly. These checks will help you see where you are compared to where you want to be with your business.

Keep improvements and innovative changes in mind as you create your strategy. Your business will never be finished until you decide to stop. You must always continue to study, improve and innovate if you want to remain strong and stable in our dynamic environment. Consequently, your Management strategy will never be finished. It must be a dynamic, documented process, growing and changing as your business changes and grows toward your Vision.

Designing an explicit Vision and a workable Management Strategy will move you closer to the phenomenal success available in the looming Innovation Economy.

“Knowledge, the power of creative ideas, is the currency of the Innovation Economy.” James Canton

Simplified research results for business success: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”

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