When was the last time you did a puzzle? I love doing puzzles and I recently was working on one and I realized that building a puzzle is much like building a business. I have a process and a framework that I go through when putting a puzzle together. Most people know that the beginning of the process is to separate out all of the edge pieces which enables me to create the outline of the puzzle. Then I spread out all of the rest of the pieces and flip them over so that the color side is facing up. The next step is to identify areas of the puzzle that are distinct, such as a little bit of text along the bottom or the copyright area. That’s usually pretty simple to find. If it’s not at an edge piece, then it’s a layer in and then I get a little bit done. The recent puzzle I was working on had a small yellow butterfly. In fact, there were two, and that enabled me to put pieces together for that part of the puzzle. Ideally, I work from the outside in so I can connect it to the edges. But if I can’t find a perfect place, I at least use those distinct areas as guides to help me build the puzzle. Finally, when I get to a large section where the color is all the same, I lay the pieces out by shape. For example, the shape with three bumps and one indentation versus the shape with two indentations on opposite ends and two bumps on opposite sides. Doing so allows me to quickly try pieces that will fit and finish the puzzle.
What does this have to do with building a business? When you’re building a business, you need to figure out the framework of your business, starting with the edges of what you want to operate within. You should have a general idea of your target market and the services or product you are going to provide. The next step is to put some meat on that framework by finding areas that are obvious where you can hire people or start to build the tool or the service. Share it with those who are low hanging fruit. As your business continues to grow, you must continue to add structure to the processes inside your business, enabling you to grow month over month and year over year, serving your customers.
Can you do a puzzle by just trying to connect a bunch of pieces together and hoping to make it work? You can, but it’s much more difficult and frustrating. Similarly, can you build a business without having a framework and thinking through the processes that you’re going to use inside your business? Yeah, but it’s going to be much more frustrating and difficult. Every business needs processes and every business uses technology. If you don’t have a technology plan or a map of the technology you’re using in your business, you should think about creating one.