Does your company have sheet music?

If not, it should! Lack of sheet music is one of the main reasons small companies struggle to grow and take off. It’s one of the reasons small businesses flounder or die when the founder attempts to step back and delegate, or ownership changes, and they move on. The heart and soul of the company resides in the entrepreneur who had the original vision. They alone are the one who knows the business inside and out, and it is their “gut instincts” that guided it through the precarious birthing process.

The entrepreneur is a talented musician. Much of what resides within them is nebulous. It’s talent. It’s a fiery storm of thoughts and opinions and experience and drive and persistence. It is a bizarre blend of experience, knowledge, insight and intuition that allows them to make the big decisions in such a way to get the right results.

As a musician, the entrepreneur can draw upon his talent to create a beautiful sound that people love and adore and are willing to pay hard-earned cash for. He/she often doesn’t even fully understand where their talent comes from, or exactly how it works. It just comes forward, and they can play. They love what they do. They practice hard. The results are good. The system works, until…

One day he grows tired of toting the entire load himself. He wants to hire help and delegate. Playing beautiful music is easy to him – a transparent process. Surely he can teach others to do the same and assemble a talented team of musicians that will succeed to the highest level. The entrepreneur sets out to build an orchestra that will be his ticket to fame and fortune. No more small nightclubs.

Being a talented musician, the entrepreneur finds it easy to attract like-minded people who want to share in his vision – the American dream of prosperity. Upon finally assembling a 100-piece orchestra, he is ready to raise his baton, and with a flick of his wrist, watch all the adoring fans shower him with praise, and throw money at his feet.

Unfortunately his orchestra gets a luke warm reception. The music was somewhat disjointed and off-key. Rolling up his sleeves, the entrepreneur invites each musician into his office for an individual coaching session. Other than a few minor issues, he finds that each musician is quite talented in their own right. Confident again, he parades his orchestra back in front of a crowd. Again, the results were disappointing. Something just wasn’t right.

Now frustrated, the entrepreneur takes his anguish out on some of the musicians. “They are clearly talented, so they must be slacking off,” he thinks. “A little pressure should be the cure.” Pressure is applied. He fires a few. Some also quit on their own. Others come on board with hopes and plans of making a difference. More pressure is applied and a performance is scheduled. The show must go on!

Sadly, the results are no better. The music is adequate, but certainly not the shining accomplishment the entrepreneur originally envisioned. The public agrees. Sales are flat. Profits are dwindling under the pressure of supporting a full orchestra.

Crushed and bewildered, the talented orchestra leader crawls into bed and confesses to his beloved wife that his vision for greatness is turning into a nightmare, and he is at wit’s end. Calmly, she responds, “Did you give them sheet music?”

Entrepreneurs are a conundrum. The same qualities that make them capable of breathing life into a business, are the ones that prevent them from growing it. In the start-up phase of a business, entrepreneurs have to do a lot of the work themselves. They wear a lot of different hats and have to micro-manage. They have to trust their gut instincts, make quick decisions, and learn to thrive in chaos. As a business grows to include many more employees, they have to learn how to “put their guts on paper.” By that I mean they have to get everyone on the same page, with the same understanding, pursing the same goals with the same tactics. Everyone needs to have the same priorities.

It’s like writing sheet music for an orchestra. Without the sheet music, even the most talented and best-intentioned musicians will not play in harmony and the orchestra will never live up to its potential.

For businesses, sheet music is their marketing plan. The marketing plan gets all members of the company on the same page. It points out opportunities and challenges. It tells them what the corporate goals are; what priorities are; who’s responsible for doing what; how they are supposed to do it, when it is to be done; and what results are expected. Without this “map for success,” even the most talented and knowledgeable management team will fall far short of its potential.

We write sheet music for our clients.

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