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How to Get Your Business to Grow Up and Run Itself

processRay Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, understood that to have his business grow up and run itself, he would need to pay attention to all of the Seven Elements of a Business – so he did.

Kids need to grow up and stand on their own two feet without leaning on you – that is maturity. Your company should do the same thing.

We assume we should wait until we’re big enough before we figure out how to make the business run itself, but – where we start is where we end up. No matter what size your business is, you should be manically focused on getting yourself out from behind the steering wheel from the gitgo. Pay attention to all Seven Elements of a Business, like Kroc did, and watch your business grow up.

Element 1: Vision and Leadership – “I was 52 years old,” recalled Kroc. “I had diabetes and incipient arthritis. I had lost my gall bladder and most of my thyroid gland in earlier campaigns, but I was convinced that the best was ahead of me.” And when he first saw the McDonald’s brothers’ restaurant, he saw what they didn’t, an opportunity to create an international business, not just a restaurant.

“If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business,” said Kroc. What risk is holding you back? Get clarity on your vision to take more risk.

Element 2: Business Development – Kroc had to create the need for his product! Fast food was not an existing market – tough job! He clearly knew his niche, learned how to communicate that niche, and stuck to his knitting – he didn’t get sidetracked trying to make great food. And he didn’t let ego get in the way of making money – a very common disease.

Element 3: Operations/Delivery – Work from the result desired. “I didn’t invent the hamburger,” said Kroc. “I just took it more seriously than anyone else…We take the hamburger business more seriously than anyone else.” He built a small business into an international empire by focusing on the operational details and the desired result.

Element 4: Financial Management – When Kroc was asked “What’s the #1 priority for McDonald’s?”, he responded, “The bottom line!” To Kroc, efficient meant most profitable. He didn’t want the best hamburger in the world, he wanted the one that would make him the most profit per fat molecule.

Element 5: Customer Satisfaction – CONSISTENCY of EXPERIENCE was key, not QUALITY of EXPERIENCE. He didn’t need the best food, just the most consistent presentation of it. And if there was trash in the parking lot, that was “a gross affront to me.” A great customer experience was everything.

Element 6: Employee Satisfaction – “None of us is as good as all of us,” Kroc said. A strong believer in teamwork, Kroc knew his growing company could only grow if he had dedicated people. Kroc treated everyone with respect. Every new employee got a badge with the title “Management Trainee” to let them know they all needed to participate in making McDonalds great. His Suggestion Box was legendary.

Element 7: Community/Family/Self – Kroc was an astute businessman who understood that community involvement was a key part of an effective marketing strategy. This tradition of giving back that Kroc initiated so many years ago remains an integral part of the McDonald’s corporate philosophy. Through community contributions, Kroc also established a corporate tradition of creating a positive presence in society.

What did McDonald’s have going for it? Kroc paid attention to all Seven Elements from the gitgo. As small business owners, we’re usually good at a few of the above, and have big holes in a few. Which are you really good at? Whatever you answered, you’re business probably needs help in the opposite ones.

Your business may not be running itself yet. That’s not the question. Are you setting it up to be able to do that at the earliest possible opportunity? If not, you’ll be babysitting it for years to come, and won’t know why every time you come home, your business is there waiting for you!

Let’s learn how to wean our businesses – pay attention to all Seven Elements of a Business. We deserve an empty nest at some point, with a business that can run itself.

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