Ask any architect and they will tell you the most important aspect of design is not the structure but the foundation. To design a business that endures, you’ll have to build it on a solid foundation.
Foundations aren’t as glamorous as the stunning design of the architecture itself, but they are critical to supporting not only the weight of the building, but essential to withstand the constant movement of the earth and the erosion of the soil around it. Like any great structure, nothing is more fundamental to the enduring success of your business vision than a strong foundation on which your bigger future will rest upon.
The foundation you create will determine the stability and sustainability of your enterprise.
The majority of my professional career has been helping business leaders, entrepreneurs and solo professionals build enduring foundations underneath their big ideas. I have always considered it sacred work–like a mid-wife helping to birth new ideas, products and services into the marketplace. Strong foundations are the beginning of success. If you don’t have one firmly in place, it’ll be next to impossible for your big idea to withstand the winds of eroding criticism, competition and the unpredictable forces of marketplace change.
When creative entrepreneurs are visioning their future, the first actions they will undertake is finding the right soil for building their dream on. Excellent builders (and dreamers) start at the ground level…in the dirt building a foundation worthy of their highest ideals and biggest vision!
Building a strong foundation for your vision, big idea and business is the most important attribute in creating value for others.
Here’s what you need to consider before you break ground on your next big idea:
Build your foundation on good ground.
Don’t build your castles in the sand is a timeless cliché you’ve heard time and again. It’s also timeless advice many entrepreneurs have failed to heed. In the rush to get somewhere, some like to take shortcuts. Your philosophy of life is your “good ground”. The good ground of your philosophy will include your purpose, your true north, your values, knowledge, character and integrity. Does your philosophy support the successful design of your future? Is your philosophy solid as bedrock or liquid as sand?
Your foundation must fit naturally into the landscape that surrounds it.
In architecture it’s called site planning. In business it’s called strategic planning. Your foundation has to fit naturally and beautifully into the lay of the land otherwise known as the marketplace. How you position your foundation relative to your talent, skills, capabilities and knowledge and how that will fit into the marketplace are critical in defining your unique value to customers. You must know the lay of the land, your customer’s / client’s desires, hopes, aspirations and needs. Where do you fit? Who do you serve?
Strong foundations go deep into the ground.
If you have an Empire State Building size idea or vision, you’ll have to build your foundation deep into the ground. This means you must focus all your creative energy on deep and narrow expertise. What is the “one thing” that makes your business highly valued and distinctive among all other choices? Develop deep knowledge in the one thing you love and serves the good of others … don’t generalize–specialize! Big ideas require deep foundations!
Strong foundations are well designed and engineered.
How your products, services and customer experiences are designed is a critical element in the foundation of your business. How you create and deliver value requires elegant engineering and good design…everything in the experience of doing business with you must be well thought out and properly executed. This is foundational to the make-up of extraordinary companies and brands. Design matters and determines competitive advantage. Make your strong and enduring foundation beautiful!
Strong foundations are made of quality materials.
If your dreams, vision and business will stand the test of time, it must be comprised of the highest quality materials. Build your foundation in association with high quality partners, collaborators, and employees. People whose passion for excellence and success is equal and greater to your own. A foundation is only as strong as the quality of materials used. Trusted relationships are what bond everything together.
A strong foundation will protect your investment.
If you’re planning to put something remarkable and extraordinary on top of your foundation, you will need to invest a great deal of time, energy and money. The quality of your foundation must support and protect the investment you make in your future. Building foundations is not glamorous work. Remember just because most of your foundation is below ground and not seen by your customers, doesn’t mean you can compromise any aspect of its integrity. The lasting value of your business depends upon a solid foundation.
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The White Hot Center Business Transformation Workshop provides an opportunity to go deeper into these ideas. It’s happening November 8 2013 in Ojai, California. Learn more here.