Boring business principles – needed now more than ever?

I had lunch last week with a couple of local business owners. An actual in-person lunch at a restaurant. It almost seemed like life was back to normal. Until the server greeted us with a mask on, a reminder that normal it is not. Still, it was nice to finally have a zoom-less conversation over a nice meal to chat about business.

At one point I made a comment that with all of the Covid-related pivoting going on, and with almost every business turning to technology to sell their products or services in new ways, I wondered if my specialty of helping businesses systematize the basic (but difficult to implement) business success principles of alignment and accountability would fall out of favour as businesses seek to survive and thrive in the new landscape. 

One of business owners I was lunching with thought about this for a moment and said, you know, I think being grounded in these business principles is needed now more than ever. So many entrepreneurs get in to business with great technical expertise or other skillsets—which are extremely valuable—but without much exposure to essential business principles. They skip a step, or multiple steps, in the process of growing their business, and while that works for a while, ultimately it comes back to haunt them. 

He went on to say that a general lack of business acumen even affects non-business initiatives. He gave an example of a local group of parents who were trying to make their voices heard around the challenges and impact of school closures and distance learning, particularly for those in their final years of high school. This group failed to make the difference it had set out to because its members didn’t know how to connect their objectives with the specific actions required to achieve them. In other words, they weren’t able to align their purpose, planning, people, and processes, and they didn’t achieve their objective as a result.

In times of crisis, does your business make major decisions in alignment with its purpose, or despite it? 

In my view, businesses who look to their purpose (vision + mission + core values) to guide their decisions—especially major decisions that are required in times of crisis—are more likely to achieve sustainable success. 

Businesses who pivot despite their purpose may see success for a time, but ultimately that misalignment will create big problems. Those businesses will need to consciously change their purpose to align with their new operations—or adjust their new operations to align with their purpose—if they want their pivot to be successful in the end. 

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