For ERP Software Providers – For All Businesses
Entrepreneurs are a Must
(Including Well Established Companies)
Note: Creating a business is a challenge! Keeping it running is even Greater!
You need to start out with a good idea but mostly it’s about recognizing an opportunity and being able to take advantage of the occasion.
So too is running a successful business once it has been is created. That is a never ending Challenge!
Once the idea is implemented, keeping the company moving in the right direction can be a tough row to hoe.
We tend to think that the act of running a business comes at some point in time beyond the creation process. Obviously one cannot run a business until it has first been created, so we see them in our subconscious minds as two entirely separate and unique events. Pragmatically this makes perfect sense.
There are two distinctly unique events – one the creation and two the sustainment – even though it is frequently difficult if not impossible to point out where one ends and the other begins.
I say this simply to point out the difference because the process does not have to happen this way. In fact, the potential for entrepreneurial success can, and logically should, always be infinitely better at those times when it is the other way around. When a successful business rather than a lone individual recognizes and takes advantage of the occasion it should be a lot better.
The reason it should be better is very simple. The administrative and management infrastructure to capitalize on the idea should already be in place. It should be exceedingly simple, so easy to implement a new venture, a new idea, that, even though it is employees who have discovered the opportunity, they will be excited about being able to be creative and make new things happen. Unfortunately, it rarely is simple and easy and the thrill of what they wanted to achieve is gone.
As a result endless opportunities go by – completely lost.
Not only is the opportunity lost but employee frustration sets in because of an inability to implement his or her new idea. Frequently this frustration even leads to the loss of the employee and the ultimate rise of a new competitor to your existing business because he or she saw the opportunity and is determined to take advantage of it.
There is a basic flaw in this entire thinking process on what good information systems are and what they can do for us.
We tend to be masters, even take delight, in taking advantage of our own folly. In fact, we are exceptionally good at it. Unknowingly, every day businesses jump up to stand in line for failure. The sad truth is – They just don’t realize it.
What most business leaders don’t understand is that failure is a process, just as much as is success. Failure is a series of events, frequently misunderstood.
When failure is taking place, most people don’t understand it when it is happening and they frequently don’t understand why failure occurred when it did. Even fewer understand how it could have been prevented had they recognized it when they should have in the first place.
Let’s find out why.
But first it is important to make some basic observations on what we all see virtually every day.
Have you ever noticed how many businesses get started, – only to flounder three or four years later? Statistically, businesses have about an 80 percent probability of not finishing their fifth year.
Absolutely astounding, isn’t it!
Do you realize, or have you ever thought about the fact that we actually employ, mostly with taxpayer dollars, hundreds of people of which their livelihood is premised on success, but fueled by failure.
Is that not what an 80 percent failure rate for new businesses would indicate to you?
It sure does me and I don’t like it! Not one little bit.
The fact is, we have built a complete business structure fueled on failure – and it works. At least no one has seemed to have caught on yet.
So, you really can fool most of the people most of the time!
Really, I think we have done better than that. I think we have been instrumental in fooling all the people all of the time. It has probably been one of the greatest con jobs of all time.
But in contrast, think about this…
Can you imagine just how successful we could really be were we to implement a business structure fueled on success?
Have you ever noticed the number of smaller businesses that get absorbed, gobbled up, by large conglomerates offering great expectations for a rosy future, only to fade into oblivion two or three years later? We don’t have statistics on those but the numbers are huge. We don’t see them near so much as we feel them because they generally go away very quietly.
Absolutely mind boggling, isn’t it? Do you ever wonder why?
If you do, you are not alone. There is a reason.
But – there is also a solution. There is a way to turn that 80 percent failure rate around, turn it into an 80 percent success rate.
There are a number of contributing factors to this tremendous failure rate. Knowing what the contributing factors are is imperative to understanding the solution and imperative in understanding why the solution is vital to the success of every company – your company – and to our country as a whole.
It comes as no secret but most of us tend to forget one basic simple fact.
Entrepreneurship is an absolutely critical element in the birth of every business.
This basic simple fact is also transferable.
Entrepreneurship is an absolutely critical element in the continual rebirth of every business.
The fact is, most people have never considered the idea that the spirit of entrepreneurship could or should also exist in every business in motion. Most people never give credence to the idea that long term corporate survival can only be assured through exercising process and behavior modification resulting in the development of new winning strategies – long after the business has been established.
Without new winning strategies, every company eventually dies.
Entrepreneurship is the mechanism to forming the creation of every non-political service job in this nation. Unless there is, or was at some time, some form of entrepreneurship, unless you are employed by the government, your job couldn’t possibly exist. It’s entrepreneurs who foster new ideas and set them in motion.
Entrepreneurs are thinkers, tend to be creative, and possess a passion for making things better. The really good ones usually emanate the appearance of having unlimited energy and an absolutely unshakable ability to persevere – no matter what. The very best of entrepreneurs tend to be self employed business owners but excellent entrepreneurs lie hidden deep within companies of all sizes.
The risk taking entrepreneur, the one who is self employed, finds a way to get his good idea to sprout wings and a company is born. Jobs emerge and everyone is happy.
That is everyone except the entrepreneur. Why?
Because there quite quickly comes a time when he or she becomes so completely wrapped up in running the business and attending to day to day business blunders that there is no longer any time to do what he or she is really good at – thinking – being an entrepreneur . In addition, that unshakable ability to persevere, his best quality, remains – and that is what eventually leads to his or her demise.
Is it because entrepreneurs are typically not real good at running a business?
Sometimes this might be the case. This is what most people attribute to the downfall and in part they are almost correct.
But it isn’t the real reason – because they are also over comers.
For, as much as we would like to think that nothing significant has changed in the past two, three or four years – evolution has been and will continue to be an on-going process. Evolution is changing our lives in almost every way we live, the tools we use, the cars we drive, the food we eat, the homes we live in, even the air we breathe.
What is happening?
For one, the world and circumstances in which we live are in constant flux. Today, like never before, we are being molded by forces from outside of our national boundaries. Our competitors no longer live just down the street or over in the next county. He may live on a different continent, be of a different culture, speak a different dialect and may even have a conflicting set of values but there is one thing that is certain.
He wants the same chunk of business you and are after.
And he is getting it.
And while he is doing it, he is openly demonstrating that there is undoubtedly no better way to take over the world – one small act a time! You may not want to believe it. You may not want to accept it, but it is there.
The next time you want to purchase something, just about anything, take the time to look for a “Made in Canada” or a “Made in USA” label. Most people already recognize that the outgoing wave of jobs in manufacturing is gone, perhaps forever. But what most people do not yet realize is that tens of thousands of administrative and marketing type jobs are also already gone as well – and the tide is never coming back in.
Not coming back in unless we do something very creative about it.
The second force that is making it difficult for businesses here is our knowledge, or should I say, lack of knowledge. Really it is both. But even worse than knowing, or not knowing – is our reluctance to keep and make use of the knowledge we consistently insist on deliberately throwing away – and it really is the best knowledge in the world.
Let me explain.
Data is the basis of all knowledge. Information is simply the summation and analysis of data. The more data you have and the better the quality of the data, the better the information becomes and subsequently the better the decisions are that come out of it.
Unfortunately there is an inherent problem with our approach to information in that, as leaders in business, we fail to respect and take advantage of our data and technology. It has tremendous potential. It’s not just the local business concerns, the ones we all bump into every day, who are missing the opportunity, but also the vast majority of highly respected supporters of those businesses such as the technical suppliers who unwittingly fail to understand the folly of their ways.
Please take note that I used the word unwittingly. It is not their fault. They simply do not understand.
Virtually every business ERP software provider out in the marketplace tells their prospects that they have a solution that is perfect for their needs. It is designed to do exactly what the prospect does and needs to do. They tell their prospects that they need a system that fits perfectly into a specific vertical.
Why do they do that? They do it for two very good reasons.
For one, they know that life changes and the prospect’s needs will change. Because the solution being sold to them is designed to do perform specific tasks in a specific way, it will quickly become obsolete and an opportunity for a new sale is born. So. .. It’s the money! That is why they tell the prospect he needs a so called “perfect solution fitting his or her specific needs”.
The second reason is because they have no alternative solution. Sad but none the less probably true.
But business leaders every day never question these so called experts. They just jump in line and wait for the next whack up-side the head.
And it will come.
It will come because life changes. The right question that purchasers should ask is will this solution work for me tomorrow when my business changes? Will it help me change my business? If it is a typical modular system, integrated or not integrated, sold to you as a perfect fit for to-day – not very likely.
The real strength in business is not in how much we are alike but rather in how much we can, are willing and want to be different. And we are really all different. And changing every day.
Let’s get back to these two groups of companies I referred to earlier as idea builders – I mean the starter uppers and the ones who have been around for a while.
Just about every business in this country has been getting their indoctrination into computerized information systems on small PC based systems. Their objective is to find a way that helps them with their accounting. Their immediate concern is paying the bills, managing sales taxes, managing payroll, billings, collections and getting the year end financials. There is nothing wrong with that.
The second thing that is happening is that when companies outgrow the PC based systems, some companies move to much more sophisticated systems. These systems are typically viewed as “accounting” systems as well. As a result they are actually used as “accounting” systems – mostly because they are pretty useless at anything else. They are really designed to do little else other than accounting. Case in point: Virtually all of these systems are designed to remove all the data after just a year or so resulting in the loss of any ability to be able to use that data to extract information for analysis on an ‘as required basis” at some future date.
But, there is yet another very serious problem with these systems. They are made up of specific modules or packages designed for a specific purpose. Because they are for a specific purpose, they lack the flexibility and the ability to allow users to diversify and try new ideas. They are not designed to promote innovation through modification to process and behavior – the essence of promoting an entrepreneurial spirit.
The bottom line, the result of both of these shortcomings is that the person who was the entrepreneur can no longer continue to do what he really good at and should be doing as an entrepreneur, and that is, coming up with, and testing, new ideas.
And, neither can the businessman, who may have taken over from the entrepreneur, be nearly as effective in running the business as he or she should be by encouraging his or employees to be entrepreneurial – a terrific and tragic loss.
And most people neither recognize it, nor know it!
So, what about the solution?
The solution is to provide a way and means to allow the guy who is the entrepreneur the opportunity to continue being an entrepreneur – doing what he does best, what he is really good at.
Remember, he was the guy who made everyone else’s job possible. He is key to the birth of every job, the economic growth and prosperity of every municipality, every province, in fact, the entire nation.
But that isn’t all. There is more.
The right solution will not only provide the person who was obviously the originating entrepreneur the information and tools to continue in the spirit of entrepreneurship, but it will also provide the information and tools required to help all those people who work in the business of running the business the ability to practice entrepreneurship as well.
Can you imagine what might happen in this country if every business were promoting internal entrepreneurship? Can you imagine what could happen to our position in the world marketplace? Can you imagine the failure success ratio for new business startups going from 80/20 to 20/80? We have untold wealth in our natural resources. Why can we not capture the untold wealth in our people? The right systems and the right knowledge will go a long way – further than anyone has ever dared to imagine.
The right solution will do this by being simple and easy to use. It will be amazingly forgiving when users make mistakes – and it will remember what is good – forever. Nothing will be thrown away. Information retrieval, regardless of the age of the data, will be virtually instantaneous and the tools required to attain the information must always be at the user’s instant disposal, or at most, one or two quick keystrokes away.
The system will be extremely flexible, business rules driven, thereby letting the company readily and easily diversify, but at the same time, consolidate data information and management to a single, virtually infinite, highly reliable source.
This system, including the data, must be accessible virtually 24/7 and run on a server with a near perfect up-time record.
Moreover, in addition to encouraging many non entrepreneurs to be a bit entrepreneurial, it will foster and encourage efficiency and productivity through continual improvement to process and behavior because when we concentrate on improving process and behavior, we improve the bottom line. The bottom line is never improved by monitoring the bottom line, the emphasis of so many systems, the emphasis of so many software developers and suppliers.
Are we going to compete on a word scale? We most certainly are!, – whether we want to or not. Are we going to win? We can win only if we change our ways. If we continue to do things the way we are currently doing them, the environment in which we live will continue to deteriorate. Outside forces will continue to consume us – one simple act at a time.
Can we change our ways? Can we reverse the tide? Can we be the province, the nation we really want to be?
We most certainly can. One simple act at a time!
For all of this I am truly sorry…
But we have to do it. Not the “other” guy. There is no miracle. There is no silver bullet.
So… what must we do?
The first thing we have to do is to make up our minds that we are going to get extremely innovative. We have to be innovative like we have never been innovative before. And then, not later, but in the same breath, we have to set it in our hearts and minds that we are making innovation a lifestyle, not something far away, not something, somebody, someplace else, does. Then, together, we can, and will, make it happen.
The next thing we have to do is put in place information systems that do all of the things mentioned above. Information is the essence of every decision. Without accurate timely information, the probability of making good decisions at the most opportune times becomes sharply diminished. Without a good information system the current path of progression will have a difficult struggle to improve in a positive manner.
Once we have made up our minds that we truly are committed to survival, -. Once we have the required information systems in place, if we are going to survive and prosper, we desperately need to encourage everyone to become much more innovative.
I find it somewhat of a paradox that we have dozens of people, particularly those in local municipal and federal postings, assigned to the task of helping entrepreneurs. If they were of an entrepreneurial spirit they probably would not be holding down those jobs. Not unless they have been fortunate enough to have retired.
I find this particularly peculiar when I realize there is an excellent probability that virtually none of them have ever been an entrepreneur – and cannot possibly understand, nor appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit.
There is no doubt that most of them are good citizens, honest and caring.
When an entrepreneur goes seeking help, the first thing they want him to do is a bunch of things that he is probably not good at, in fact he is likely terrible. What should be happening is getting him someone else to do the administration and legwork as quickly as possible, for whatever he needs, using his knowledge as a guide. We need to get whatever he requires to move his business forward when it is still timely – not months after it is too late.
This will allow the entrepreneur to get on with what he is really good at – being an entrepreneur.
It will also allow supporting research and development teams and supporting financial bodies a far better opportunity to effectively direct our tax dollars into good opportunities instead of bailing out failures.
Why? Because most failures should have never be allowed to get to the point they do. The way to prevent these financial catastrophes with publicly funded tax dollars is to have quality information before releasing any funding.
I am personally of the belief that if an organization has reached the point of being an abnormal risk, they probably got there because they lacked justifiable data and information along the way. Bad information systems are a hazard. Giving them additional dollars will not likely resolve their dilemma – whatever it might be.
We have to take a different approach on how we help our entrepreneurs. Time is of the essence and we must find every way and means possible of encouraging every business leader and employee into becoming as efficient and productive as humanly possible.
We also need support in encouraging existing businesses in the installation and employment of new types of software which encourage people to be much more entrepreneurial.
The only way a dying company can survive is by being reborn. Being reborn is a continual never ending process. It is people who are the true entrepreneurs as well as these people who carry the entrepreneurial spirit who are the catalyst of conception. They need the timely information and instant access tools to help them make rebirth happen.
If your question is: “Does that kind of software really exist?” the answer is yes – it does.
But it is not going to come from traditional accounting or ERP software providers. It is unfortunate, but they have seriously missed the boat. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, unfortunately they are leading, actively helping, thousands of companies, their customers, in missing the boat as well. Every entrepreneurial opportunity they have missed is an opportunity lost.
The next opportunity they loose may be just the one that could have meant their survival.
Can I make a difference? Can you make a difference?
Yes, together we most certainly can – one simple act at a time.
Pity help us if we don’t. We will have only ourselves to blame.