It is a great idea to have an egg for breakfast. They are high in protein, highly nutritious and, contrary to popular belief, are not bad for your cholesterol levels. However, without the skill and ability to implement your great idea i.e. “cook the egg” you just have a raw egg on a plate.
If in business you want to avoid getting egg on your face, then you need a certain level of expertise to execute. What I mean by “expertise” in this article is, “been there done that and have learnt from my mistakes”. Such a person has the “know-how” the expertise and, most importantly, the skill to implement. It is difficult to quantify how valuable this ability is in business, but I would guess if you had a level of expertise where you could just “plug-in” whenever you needed it, then you would be running not only a profitable business but a highly valued business as well.
Learning from others in business is probably one of the reasons why business biography books are still so popular. The majority are hardly edge of the seat “page turners” but they do pass on practical and useful lessons from people on the front line.
The analogy that comes to mind is; if you have ever put together some self assembly furniture without instructions, how much easier it is to assemble the second time. If you are like me, even if it does have instructions it makes little difference as I don’t read them anyway. I have been told it’s a male thing.
Having access to an executive with that first hand “know how” is just like assembling furniture for the second time. They know the short cuts and where to avoid the pitfalls, based upon practical first hand experience. The end result - they can get the job done, more quickly, at lower cost and with a better output.
Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) the author of “Robinson Crusoe” once wrote:
“Set sail with a mariner who has been shipwrecked many times, for he surely will know where the reefs are”
I am working from memory with the above quotation, as I could not find any reference to it on the internet. If you know the exact wording please do let me know.
I understand the sentiment of the above quotation, however, I must confess to a certain feeling of trepidation if my mariner has been shipwrecked too many times, as he may be some sort of a Jonah or just a totally incompetent sailor. Did they have kamikaze sailors?
Business is complex and it won’t be any less complex any time soon. The range of skills required to run a business successfully is many and varied. The time we have to learn new skills is constantly decreasing as the pace of business increases. The rate of consistent change is the only constant. For the small to medium sized organisation it is not always possible or viable to have that experience “in-house” on a full time basis. However, the value of being able to access specific vertical market expertise on a “plug-in” , ‘as and when’ basis could be highly valuable for the learning curve and growth of any company in our sector.
Running a business can be a daunting task. Too often, working in the business instead of working on the business means that you lose a certain level of objectivity. That is when outside help can be useful. Taking a close look at all aspects of your business with a new perspective can yield a better business. Firstly, in diagnosing areas of the business that need prioritising for special attention and secondly, in bringing in the right level of expertise to quickly help fix the problem. A “doer” not a pontificator. - If they have the right level of experience and knowledge. What you don’t want is the “expert” who borrows your watch and then tells you the time as they wave goodbye, only stopping long enough to hand you their invoice. You need first hand, front liners who have the battle scars to prove they’ve won their ‘spurs’ who are willing to roll their sleeves up and take action.
Good ideas are ten a penny. Ask any VC. I know individual VC’s that have 30 business plans land on their desk every week. Many of these hardly touch down before continuing their flight straight to the waste paper basket. Getting the execution right is where the rubber hits the road. Get that right and you can keep the egg off your face and replace it with a nutritious breakfast.