Procedures, Protocols, and Processes:
Right now, because of the surge in business, we are doing a bad job of entering and fulfilling orders. We have to move our fulfillment out of house and learn to manage service companies. We also have to get our accounting and customer service departments working more smoothly. We need a VP of operations - someone really good and very detail-oriented (because we aren't) - and we need that person ASAP.
Based on that quick assessment of the business, it was easy for us to see the importance of hiring two more superstars - one to help us get operations in order and the other to take a lead in marketing so we can grow our prospect file as it needs to be grown. If we make it a priority to fill these two positions, we can have it done in 30 to 45 days, and then begin the process of integrating and educating our new people. In six months, if all goes well, we will be ready for the next step up - to the $5 million level.
Companies fail for a host of reasons. Bad luck plays a role, sure, but disaster usually strikes because of a more fundamental flaw--in the original idea, the strategy, the execution or all of the above.
When it comes to building a business, even Warren Buffett would agree that no one can spot every opportunity or anticipate every threat. There are simply too many variables. And in an increasingly competitive global economy, those variables are changing faster than ever before.
What entrepreneurs can do is ask the core set of tough questions that govern the fate of any enterprise. Armed with those answers, they stand the best chance of beating some fairly dire odds: Studies estimate that just two-thirds of all start-ups survive the first two years, and less than half make it to the fourth.
Make no mistake: Digging for those answers is a grueling exercise--one that takes serious intellectual and emotional honesty. With any hope, the process begins long before money's been spent, products are built and customers are lost.