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February 2010

Hitting the mark!

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Why do so few businesses "hit the mark"?

In working with entrepreneurs I have heard lots of ideas and listened to many dreams of someone ready to start a business or working to grow an existing one.  Despite these great ideas and vivid dreams of success most business owners never reach them.  Why?

In my experience the difference between wildly successful ventures and the very average "grind it out to make a living" lifestyle company it really comes down to four areas:

Opportunities vs. Ideas - successful businesses don't have ideas...they identify opportunities.  Sure, they start with an idea, but they take it to the next step in making sure that their idea is an opportunity, not just another one of the millions of good ideas that bubble up every day.  We all have ideas, but ideas aren't good enough.  They have to be opportunities.  The difference between an idea and an opportunity is huge.  Ideas are based in hope, opportunities are based in reality.  Is there a market for your idea?  Will someone buy it?  Can you make a profit by selling it?  If you can answer yes to those few questions your idea is probably an opportunity worth more exploration.  If not, forget about it and go back to the drawing board as the best ideas in the world are worthless without a customer to buy them.

Clarify - successful entrepreneurs are good at clarifying the barrage of information headed at them every day.  They are able to clarify what is important out of the daily data dump that is part of the information age.  They know how to sort through the clutter and find those few things that will make a marked difference in their success if they pay attention to them.

Focus - after they've clarified what is important, the best business leaders are able to focus in on these few things that make a difference like a laser beam.  They focus on a few critical items that can move their businesses forward and they are able to put aside the clutter.  It is a rare entrepreneur that exhibits this skill, but find the most successful businesses and you will always find a leader and management team that knows how to focus.

Execute - the final key is the ability to execute or actually perform those tasks needed for success.  After they have identified an opportunity, clarified what is key to success and focused in on what makes a difference...they execute the strategy needed for success.

Opportunity, clarity, focus and execution are each a piece of the puzzle that I often find  in common across  companies that rise to the top. 

How would you measure your expertise in each of these skills?  If you are able to perform all four well, you are almost guaranteed success.  If you are weak in one area or another you can develop those areas, or better yet, surround yourself with people on your management team that can fill in those gaps and get you to "hit the mark" on a consistent basis.