Michael Gerber in his book the E-Myth discussed the situation where small business owners, C-Suite executives and even sales professionals become so consumed by the day-to-day business grind of working in the business, they forget about working on the business. In the book, It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small, But the Fast that Eat the Slow, the authors confirmed Gerber’s belief through their research over ten years.
Yes the day-to-day business grind can become overwhelming. However, sometimes it is necessary to stop and go beyond those daily events. In the third quarter of 2010, Michael Schrage, CEO of Centier Bank located in Merrillville, IN, provided such as opportunity for local business professionals by opening up his corporate center on the fifth floor. Beyond having a panoramic view of Merrillville, IN and a good lunch, approximately 50 local business leaders heard Kevin Brinegar, CEO of Indiana Chamber of Commerce, share information not only about this particular organization and its services, but more importantly events that impede business growth within the state of Indiana.
One critical piece of legislation that was defeated due to concentrated efforts by this statewide chamber was Indiana Senate Bill 398 (SB398). The essence of this bill was to raise state revenue by instituting a 7% sales tax on all services. Even though Indiana is still largely manufacturing, there are tens of thousands businesses that provide services such as:
- Health care practitioners
- Consultants in all industries
- Home and commercial related including plumbers, carpet cleaners, chimney sweeps
- Technology support including website hosting, computer troubleshooting, etc.
- Financial advisors
Since business is now conducted globally, this piece of legislation would effectively increase prices at least 10% if not more. Larger businesses would have to devote additional time to collect, report and submit this additional anti-competitive business cost. Many in the room did not know about this defeated piece of legislation and internally, I suspect, breathed a sigh of relief that it did not come to pass.
With all the information hitting the desk of business leaders, learning how to prioritize working in and working on the business is probably one of the greatest challenges today and well into the future. This is why it is critical to invest the time to look at all activities (think strategically) and determine the greatest return on investment for both the devoted time and dollars.
For example, the Indiana Chamber calculated the cost savings of legislation they felt was business friendly as well as legislation that was not business friendly. This figure of $1.55 billion translated into $559 per member employee.
Conducting business activities and growing an organization are really two different and necessary paths. This is where incredible strategic thinking as a leadership skill and individual talents come into play.
To walk both of these paths may require innovative small business owners, C Suite executives and even busy sales professionals to think strategically with greater frequency. The one thing in business that those in leadership positions can no longer afford to ignore those paths and continue doing think as they have always have thought.