Every entrepreneurial company should have some big, game-changing things it is working on.
Every truly entrepreneurial company in our industry (or any industry, for that matter) is working on something (or some things) that could put their business on an entirely new trajectory for growth and value creation. These are usually long-term initiatives of some sort that will greatly change the business.
I’m not talking about the 10, 20, or 30 smaller initiatives to do things such as bolster your client and potential client databases, get certain design standards and checklists on your intranet, hire a key person to improve your capabilities in a certain project type, or relocate one of your offices to a better space. I am talking about truly big stuff that is hard to get done and that may seem like it has less than a 50 percent shot to make it happen.
In the old days of the firm that is today known as Zweig Group – let’s say the first 15 or so years of our business – we were lucky. We had Fred White. He was the secret weapon – the guy who could get the big stuff, the hard stuff, the things no one else could do done.
Whether he came up with the idea on his own, or it was the result of our very disciplined business planning process didn’t matter. He would map out the steps, gather up whatever resources or find the help needed, and make it happen. I can assure you that we would never have become the company we were then or are today without having someone like Fred who could make those long-term initiatives such as creating our company-wide database that ran on a wide area network, and had every single contact, interaction, proposal, purchase, deliverable, and more in one location on every employee’s desk come to fruition. Nor would we have been able to put out our line of survey products as efficiently as we could with routines that not only analyzed the data, but did the writing of explanatory text, formatted everything, and put it all on the page ready to reproduce in quantity.
Those were just a couple of the things the guy did. Our marketing efforts were planned out in excruciating detail a year in advance. Our PR system was a machine that generated 15-20 or more press mentions every month. He even led the effort (although we didn’t succeed) to propose a merger between our firm and Harper & Shuman (the company that shortly after sold to Deltek), and found the investment bankers that sold us to private equity in 2004. I realize that not every firm is lucky enough to have a “Fred,” but any real company that has really big goals and expectations for itself needs one.
My point is this: Every entrepreneurial company should have some big things it is working on. And not just one. More than one. If you have five of these things – real “game-changers,” for lack of a better term – odds are that you will accomplish at least one or more of them.
Where do these big ideas come from? They could come from anywhere in the company. It could be from you, or another firm owner, an employee way down in the ranks, or even a client. Maybe they come from your annual business planning process. That’s the way it is supposed to work. But no matter. The important thing may not be the idea. Ideas are plentiful. It’s the implementation of the idea that really matters. “Execution” is your buzzword for today!
Making these things become a reality requires that you have someone who truly buys into it and understands it to lead the effort – not someone who sort of gets it. It is going to take real enthusiasm and commitment on their part. It takes someone who has a proven ability to complete long-term initiatives. And then it also means that the company will give that person the time and other resources they need – regardless of the other short-term problems and crises that come up every day – so they can make it happen.
So my question is – what are you doing to create your next big thing or things? Find your “Fred” and deploy them. You need to start NOW if you want to be in a better position three years from now.
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.