That’s How We Role

At the end of a trip to Utah last fall, we flew home to Maryland via Las Vegas. While we were in the neighborhood, we thought we’d check out a show. We understand now why Cirque du Soleil is always sold out. It’s because every movement of every performer is perfectly coordinated for maximum impact. Sounds just like a day at the office, right? Nah, us either. But we’ve got some ideas on how to synchronize roles so that your beautiful ballet doesn’t wind up as a tumbling act.

As your business matures, so should the way you work together. Some couples stay joined at the hip where they’re both involved in every decision just because they’re co-owners. It’s not that they necessarily want to have that kind of partnership, it’s just that it’s a habit, or a carry-over from how things work at home.  

If that’s the case for you, shake things up by getting back to some business fundamentals. In this approach, don’t focus so much on the roles you each have or what suits you best (though that’s important, too). Turn it around and ask: What roles does the business need? 

Start with the three functions that are essential to every business: 

  1. Sales – Every business has to attract customers to generate revenue
  2. Operations – Every business has to deliver something of value to those customers
  3. Accounting – Every business needs to keep track of the pennies and know how it’s doing

Next, under each of those three functions, list the critical responsibilities for your specific business. For example, if you’re a distributor, you might have these items under Operations: 

  • Shipping and Receiving
  • Managing Inventory
  • Forecasting Customer Demand

Finally, decide who owns each role. And guess what? It doesn’t have to be one of your names in every box. It might be an employee, a subcontractor or a professional advisor. If neither one of you is skilled or interested in accounting and finance, is it time to find that QuickBooks professional or part-time CFO?

If you’ve got two names in every box, you’ve got some work to do to whittle it down to one. Otherwise, you don’t really have clear roles and your pas de deux could become a three ring circus. 

This Week:  What crucial roles are going unfilled in your business? Which roles are unnecessarily being double-teamed? 

Ask not what your role can do for you. Ask what your role can do for the business.

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