The Essentials of Business

Vince Lombardi celebrating his team's success

For many, the fourth quarter of the year is filled with assessment of the current year, strategy and tactical planning, and budget creation for the next year. It can be quite a chaotic and stressful time, with ideas for growth and improvement flying all over the place. In this season of planning, it might be a good idea to follow the advice of the legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi.

In the summer of 1961, Lombardi began training camp by holding up a pigskin and saying, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Lombardi had a belief that any team that didn’t pay attention to the fundamentals would not achieve the greatness they so desired. He didn’t limit this belief to football teams. He said it was true for any organization.

He may have been onto something—his teams won 5 championships in 7 years.

It’s the same way in business. If we take our eyes off the essentials, we run the risk of getting dragged into minutiae that leaves us with a myopic view of where we need to go and what we need to do. So how do we prevent ourselves from getting there? By taking a step back and focusing on the fundamentals. To help, my friends at Five Capitals have outlined 4 Essentials for a business to be successful.

Essential #1: A Distinct BRAND

Your company BRAND is more than just a logo or tagline. It’s who you are. It’s your company identity. Your brand contains the vision and mission and (to quote Simon Sinek) the reason “WHY” your company exists.

If you and your leadership team are not together on identifying the BRAND, you’ve got some work to do. No one follows a rudderless ship. In the same way, your business will flounder if you don’t have a defined identity and reason for existing.

Essential #2: A Healthy and Productive CULTURE

Every company has a CULTURE. Not every company has a healthy and productive CULTURE. Yet, we see more and more evidence every day that those companies that are proactively building a healthy culture are seeing exponential results.

Creating healthy CULTURE is more than just programmatic. Healthy cultures are the result of a leadership team that is proactive in coaching, mentoring and training everyone in the organization to be all they can be. Healthy cultures happen when leaders become “others focused” versus “self focused.”   

Essential #3: A Satisfied and Growing MARKET

In my work as a business coach, I often ask two fundamental questions with regard to my clients’ customers:

  1. Who is your primary customer?
  2. What do they value most?

What amazes me is how many executives either can’t answer the questions, or can’t find agreement with their team on the answers. Successful businesses make it their business to know their MARKET (customer) so they can serve that market effectively. If you can’t articulate who they are and what they need, your market will go from satisfied and growing, to dissatisfied and shrinking.

Essential #4: Engaged and Shared LEADERSHIP

This fourth essential weaves its way through the other three. Successful companies have a leadership team that share the “burden” of keeping the BRAND distinct, growing a healthy CULTURE, and serving their MARKET. Successful leaders don’t do this alone; they do it together. They do it not by edict, but by example. They invite the team in, then challenge them to be better together.  

Start the New Year Right with the Four Essentials

As you set your sights on planning for the new year, make time to step back and focus on the fundamentals. Ask your team what they think. Don’t get caught holding up a football, and having your team ask, “What’s that thing?” If you want help incorporating the Four Essentials into your strategic planning this year, contact me today.