Is Your Business Stable?

One of my sons, Jon, is completing a bachelor degree in circus.  True.  Swinburne University in Melbourne houses the National Institute of Circus Arts in a fabulous modern training facility.  How fabulous to be able to gain a degree in a performing art as esoteric as Circus.  

Modern circus is full of spectacular physical stunts, acts, theatre and acrobatics.  Which is exactly what young Jon (22 is apparently still young) is learning.  He has a vast repertoire of tumbles, juggles, leaps, catches (other people) and dives through hoops.  Which is what we see at his shows.  Apparently other peoples kids are also doing stuff but I can’t seem to recall them. These flashy, impressive acts are difficult because they challenge the very laws of physics and the performers constantly appear on the brink of failure.  The liklihood of falling, dropping, missing or just stuffing up is what makes the acts so watchable.  The whole business of circus is built on instability – the imminent failure that is so obvious to the audience.

Curiously, they rarely fail.  The obvious instability is underpinned by hours and hours of strength training, agility drills, stretching, skill building, rehearsals and then start again.  The preparation is the stable base that allows controlled risk taking in the name of entertainment.  But of course, the audience never sees the preparation, just the outcome.

Your business is no different from a circus.  Perhaps it even resembles one at times.  The fabulous face your business presents to the client in terms of customer service, clean facilities, quality products or services and so on is only sustainable if it is built on a stable base.  Your staff training, record keeping, inventory management, cash flow management and many other systems and procedures are the foundation on top of which your business can shine.

However, if the base has been cobbled together in a rush to get the business up and running, or maybe a good base has been undermined by staff turnover or complacency, the ‘customer facing’ aspects will be unstable. And the wobbles will be evident to your clients.  They will notice stock shortages, appointment mistakes, failures to follow up or deliver on time. And perhaps worst of all your clients will percieve you are more preoccupied with keeping the good ship afloat rather than look after the passengers. There, I think I have mixed all the metaphors I could think of.

Here is the bottom line: the basics are not the exciting bits.  The hours spent by Jon in the gym building his body and skills is the tough repetitive grind on top of which he embroiders the visible performance skills we pay to see.  Same for you – hours of unseen (and unpaid) work to build strong basics for your business to shine. Yet the whole facade of your professional expertise is anchored by sound basics and a firm base for your business and this time spent on the basics is never time wasted.

The message is obvious – if you are building a business to last, build, sell or franchise, you should spend time, money, resources and effort on getting the basics right.  Seek assistance from advisors, regulators, professional organisations and mentors to ensure your success. In fact, as part of his circus degree, Jon is studying event management, marketing, sports injury care and other business basics to prepare him for managing the back of house not just the onstage presence.

Build your business on a stable foundation and while you might not get a standing ovation like Jon, you will prosper from return business and recommendations.

Craig Allingham
Professional Development Consultant