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Gold Medals, Buildings and Business

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Business is the primary real wealth creation institution in Society – why is it not more celebrated in Australia?

Australians seem to take business for granted. Most when starting a business have little or no idea of where it will all end! There maybe a glimmer of an idea about an IPO or a sale down the track but little concept of the work required!

Entrepreneurs particularly fall into this category. Typically entrepreneurs have an idea – sometimes it is unique – more often than not it is a  “me too” idea.

Combined with that they have a need to “survive” so getting off the ground and making some money is paramount. In the words of one very successful entrepreneur “I needed to put food on the table!” In my experience it is sometime after this that the notion of “building the business” emerges.

The whole concept of Business Building is seriously underestimated by many – it is only in more recent years that Business Incubators have emerged – Coaches and mentors are a phenomena again of the last 20 years – and Entrepreneurial Eco Systems is a much more recent concept.

If we contrast Business Building with:

  1. The Development of an Elite Sporting Person/ Team
  2. The Building of a House or a Hi Rise Building


  1. Training an elite Sportsperson:

Typically selected early in career – based on perceived physical attributes – special squads –training – in the “elite” group – nurtured and developed – launched in lower grades or competitions – and selected based on timing issues – moved into a more structured program with a team of other elite sports people from whom they can learn – coaches, assistant coaches, health professionals etc.

Structured competitions – Grand Finals – Representing Australia at the highest level– Gold medals -Test Matches!

There is a very clear outcome from the start. – A “Vision”.

Of all those who start playing sport at a very young age it is likely that only a very small percentage will make it to elite level i.e. making a living.

Possible only (.001%!)

  1. Building a major Hi Rise or House:

There are many steps  –some actually proscribed by law – many different disciplines are involved-architects, engineers, builders plus numerous support services- lawyers and accountants – in some cases tendering is involved -a very concrete plan is developed – timelines –schedules – deadlines – penalties – completions – warranty periods – fitting out periods– leasing – etc

It is a transparent process with consequences if “things” don’t go well.

At all stages there is a clear “VISION” of an end point – A building which is functional.


Now let’s consider Business!

Self selection is the standard –anyone can start a business – certainly no early training is required– very little early support – maybe an accountant helps set up a business system (mostly financial requirements) and a lawyer sorts out the legal issues– then the owner /entrepreneur is on their own – the notion of an End Point – be it a Vision or a concept of what the business will look like in 10 years could not be further from the mind of many owners – paying the bills – getting the sales – delivering the product or service is the limit for many.

So what is the learning?

Building a sustainable business is one of life’s great challenges!

What does it really take to build a business?

What does it take to build a High Performing Business?

Some might say – Heart Smarts Guts and Luck (Anthony K Tjan,Richard Harrington, Tsun-Yan Hsieh.)

Of the entrepreneurs I have worked with – some common personal qualities stand out. They include:

A sense of passion –enthusiasm and a clear focus –sometimes a sense of direction (not always well formed).

  • A capacity to tolerate high levels of ambiguity
  • A capacity to keep competent people together for long periods
  • A “bloody minded” determination or perseverance
  • An insatiable need to learn more!

All of these are personal qualities and there is so much more required!

What are the TASKS of building the business?

Having a Business Idea (Product or Service) that the market wants/needs is fundamental.

  1. Being able to “get of the ground” is a major challenge (all the pre business work – legal’s –Financials – admin etc)
    • Getting the product made (developing the product /service)
    • Finding the first customers
    • Delivery/Distribution of the product
    • Collecting the money – CASH management!
    • Deciding when to recruit the first employees
    • Deciding on IT Platform
    • How to fund the business

Once off the ground with full time staff the hard work of business building starts:

  1. Clarifying the Business model -Building a work system that is replicable and scalable – and being clear about the core capabilities required.
  1. Building a Shared Vision, establishing a Management System and documenting a clear work system to enable the employees to work cohesively together.
  1. Building the Core capabilities and the functional capabilities that are absolutely necessary for the business to grow
  1. Creating a culture where the work force is a productive community and they have a sense of meaning dignity and security.

These are just some of the tasks, which are at the heart of an Entrepreneurs work. Having the time, energy and the head space to do this work is a major challenge to every business owner and entrepreneur.

Building a solid PLATFORM to underpin all the growth strategies is a key TASK .

So where is the support system – the architect, engineers, designers etc – the coaches and fitness people who work on a continuing basis to assist the business achieve high levels of performance and maintain fitness while managing the Growth.

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