Grokking (And Executing) Business Fundamentals

My hobby-horse these days is thinking about business fundamentals. What they are, and what they need in order to be optimized. For some reason, business on the internet talks a lot about tweaks and tactics, though rarely on the fundamentals (I guess once you’ve covered them once, you’re done! Yeah, right. )

Have Something of Value to Sell

A time was, people had to have something for sale in order to be in business. Now, a lot of people are taking a page out of Seth Godin’s book (literally) and ‘building a tribe’ before they make any effort to monetize.

What the hell kind of business is that?

I have no problem with content marketing, for instance. Give away your best stuff, sell just a little bit of it, that’s fine. But until you have something for sale, you don’t have a business. You have— at best—a movement.

So the first fundamental: Have something of value for sale.

Know Your Right People

The second thing, is know who your right people are. Ideally, they should know who you are as well. It’s very hard to have the first fundamental without the second (indeed, you almost certainly need the second first, but the first is first because it is the most important. Because if you only have your right people, but you don’t have something for sale, you do not have a business yet. You have, as I said, a movement.)

Know Who You Are

The third thing is to know who you are.

I know, that sounds strange in a business context, but if you’ve done any reading, you know that there are more ways to build a business than there are stars in the sky, and none of them is unequivocally the best.

So knowing yourself (and to a lesser extent, Your Right People) is bar none, the simplest way to figure out how you will build your business. You will build it in such a way as it plays to your strengths and preferences.

You also want to Stand For Something. Not only because Standing For Something is a good thing anyway, but also because Standing For Something makes you a lightning rod for your Best People. This is sometimes known as “Knowing your Why”, and is a very important subset of Who You Are

I don’t know that anyone does every aspect of these fundamentals perfectly. Knowing is one thing— Execution is quite another.

So I’ll leave you with the key to good execution:

Do what you can, with what you have,

where you are— Theodore Roosevelt

How are you doing with your business fundamentals?


12 thoughts on “Grokking (And Executing) Business Fundamentals”

  1. I need to tack that Roosevelt quote up all over my house. I often get impatient with basics and want to get to the shiny, flashy things ASAP. After reading your post, though, I’m thinking in this case that may have been because I didn’t realize what the basics were.
    At the moment, I’m working on all three of these. I almost think you have to try starting a business without them to fully appreciate how important they are. It’s almost a relief to go back and dive into the fundamentals.

    1. @remadebyhand You grokked my post perfectly! I agree, I think it’s pretty much necessary to *try* before you can really realize how important the fundamentals are. 
      And that’s where the Roosevelt quote comes in– you’re never going to have perfect understanding, perfect systems, or perfect knowledge. Even when you understand how important the fundamentals are, you can’t let your inability to execute them properly stop you. You’ve got to put it out there, and tweak as more information or understanding becomes available to you.

  2. Knowing yourself is huge. I’ve had a few “opportunities” for income streams for Cloud Coach that I’ve turned down, knowing that I wouldn’t enjoy them or want to do them for long. If you don’t know yourself, your business will quickly become your job again…

  3. I’m buying what you’re selling, mostly figuratively, but I’m not opposed to literally.
    I do want some clarification on your first header “Have Something of Value to Sell” though. I believe that you can have a business without having something to sell for money. Nobody is going to convince me that my first eight months as an entreprenuer – without a product to sell for money – wasn’t being run as a business. Don’t worry, I’m not accusing you of that. 🙂
    But what about people who want to sell influence? What about people who want to sell ideas? What about people who want to sell the concept of their non-profit? None of these people might have something to sell for money, but they are out there hustling like the rest of us. They are doing the fundamentals in my opinion. How about in your opinion?

    1. @joeyjoejoe Hey, you were on your WAY to selling things for money. It’s not like you were like 1. Start a blog 2. Tweet things 3???? 4. Profit! as I see so many people do. 
      I’m down with the non-profit angle, but selling influence sounds like lobbying, and in that case you’re basically paying someone to negotiate for you. and selling ideas tends to eventually mean producing said ideas, for which you are then paid. Like writing a book pitch! Do you have better examples?

  4. Oh, if this is what you mean by business fundamentals than I am doing much better than I ever thought I was! WOOT! 
    I’m so happy to see knowing yourself (and your ‘why’) on this list. Gee, do I say stuff like that every single time I leave a comment? I feel like a broken record.

    1. @sarahemily Knowing yourself is so important! I keep harping on it too, even though it’s tough to really explain HOW to get to know yourself. Be mindful! Stop caring what other people think! Pay attention! I feel like I’m shouting at a teenager.

  5. Wow, I really like this:  Standing For Something makes you a lightning rod for your Best People. 
    I really believe that. I believe in being open minded and flexible too, but neutrality on a subject or principal doesn’t usually make much of an impact. 
    My business fundamentals are do the work, have a system, and give back.

  6. It’s amazing how blurry those lines are between content marketing, building a tribe, and running a business for a lot of people. We can so easily lock down in one mode and forget the importance of keeping up with the rest of it. Even bigger businesses are struggling with this same mentality. 
    Great thoughts here, Shanna!

  7. Shanna, it is all so good that I am finding myself going over each point with regards to our blog and our brick and mortar business.  I’ll take the brick and mortar.  A few weeks ago, I had to talk a mom down because I would not take on her son who is in middle school.  Even though she was going to be 18th on a waiting list, she thought I was her Right People.  I had to explain that I am not the right person and that I would be doing her son a disservice in taking him as a student.  A few years back, I may have taken him on so I didn’t offend anyone.  Thank you for making me think!

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