Blind Spots Preventing Owners From Retaining Talent and Growing Profit

By Scott Beebe

It has been said 96% of businesses will not see their tenth birthday. 

A study conducted by the Exit Planning Institute reveals 30% of those businesses that survive will make it through their second generation. Of what little remains, only 12% of the very limited 2nd generation businesses will make it through the 3rd generation. 

Business is hard. Regardless of product, regardless of industry, regardless of market, leadership and sustainability; business is hard. 

A modern refrain among owners and leaders is that “nobody wants to work anymore.”  Older generations look down the pathway of a younger lineage and sense a mood of apathy and lack of resolve. We then begin to conjecture as to why “nobody wants to work anymore” and begin unwrapping and applying the band aids of bygone solutions that worked in the past hoping desperately for the tried-and-true to spur renewed action into the future. 

And then they don’t. 

In a culture of significant fluctuation and innovation it is the older generation (this author being one) that will need to confess modern blind spots and inspire adjustments in our leadership to begin mobilizing a younger person into their own accountability and leadership. 

There are four blind spots in particular that paralyze a business in the posture of a hail-mary-like hope; fingers crossed that the next silver bullet is just around the corner. 

In a culture of significant fluctuation and innovation it is the older generation (this author being one) that will need to confess modern blind spots and inspire adjustments in our leadership to begin mobilizing a younger person into their own accountability and leadership.”

The “Purpose” Blind Spot 

Culturally, a business will pay enthusiastic lip service to the needed purpose directions of any business (written vision story, mission statement, and unique core values). 

We host workshops to identify purpose and statistically take the beautifully captured binders that we have created and sit them on shelves for years while lamenting that “we have no aim”. 

A common blind spot for most businesses falls under a common myth, “If we can nail the right brand then everything will be alright.” 

We confuse brand (the perception of what exists) as purpose (the reason for which a thing exists). For a business to have clarity (a key retainage tool for both employees and customers) it must first radically commit to writing out three elements of purpose. 

First, a clarifying vision story is a detailed snapshot of the future of the business in at least seven categories. Second, a power-packed, less than 10 word, memorizable mission statement tells the rest of us why (not how) you are headed towards the vision you articulated. Third, a unique set of three to five core values serve as lone filters for cordless decision making. 

The “People” Blind Spot 

Global sports are obsessed with superstars. If you research the organizations that are at the top tiers of any sport you will not just find the one or two superstars that garner network highlights. 

There are tens or hundreds of others who help to set the stage for the superstars to perform. Take away the laundry person within the sports team and even Lebron James looks silly walking out on the court in smelly, unkempt clothes. 

The second blind spot says, “If we can just hire the right person, then everything will be alright.” 

Pinning your hopes on one talent has historically led to an arrogance fueled downfall. Counteracting the people blind spot requires a system that trains every single person in the organization rather than one talent coming from the outside. No one person can ever carry an organization for long; when it does it typically marks the beginning of the end. History is not in favor.

The “Process” Blind Spot 

With the millennial sunrise of the internet an entire new world of snake-oil sales people were hatched. 

Every industry in the world is now graced with the opportunity to find new marketing specialists in their field where for just a few thousand a month you will be ushered into a hidden universe of magic leads and effortless sales. 

The third blind spot that stimies opportunities for new business is the exasperated myth declaring, “If we can just find the silver bullet for marketing, then everything will be alright.” 

Marketing is not magic or aspiration. Marketing is a process. Marketing only works when the process of finding new audiences and new customers is written, followed, tracked, reviewed, adjusted and repeated…over and over and over again. Marketing is more about repetition than hope. 

The “Profit” Blind Spot 

Finally, we’ve been conditioned to believe that “sales solves everything.” Without sales there is no fuel, yet without marketing, administration, and operations there is no spine to hold the weight of sales.

The fourth myth naively insists, “If we can just make more sales then everything will be alright.” Sales does not equal profit; healthy systems set the stage for profit. 

You want to find and retain talent? You want to grow profit without having to skyrocket revenue? Stop subscribing to the ultimate blind spot thinking that your product is not your product. Your PROCESS is your product. 

Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, speaker for the AEC industry and author of the book Let Your Business Burn.