Begin with the End in Mind (and other bits of wisdom)

This morning, the St. Louis Business Journal held a networking breakfast at the Missouri Botanical Garden, that focused on “America’s New Economy”.  The speakers were Doug Mueller (president of Mueller Prost, PC) and Michael Forster (managing partner of Sandberg, Phoenix, VonGontard).  It was interesting to hear the perspectives of two leaders of local small business, as well as their individual perspectives as an accountant and an attorney.  I took away several thoughts from this presentation that I believe apply to all entrepreneurs and small business owners:


  • Begin with the end in mind – Doug asked the audience to think about Steven Covey’s habit as it relates to their individual businesses.  This was an interesting concept because most of the entrepreneurs that I have met over the years are more concerned with getting their business up and running, positive cash flow, and business development, than on what the legacy will be when they sell the company.  My company is based on the relationships that Ann Marie and I have within the community and our legacy will be our reputations, which we enhance and protect every day.


  • Focus on the process and not the form – Michael said that the new workforce is more in tune with filling out the blanks on a pre-printed form, but not necessarily skilled on how the process was created.  The analogy that I make to this concept is the fact that many younger people today don’t know multiplication tables because they have been brought up using a calculator.  So as business owners, we must teach our employees to think about the process as well as the result.
So when you think about these concepts for your business, it may help to write them down.  It can be your mission statement, your core values, or simply the thought process that you went through to develop your business.  If you begin with the end in mind, you won’t stray far from your core purpose for your company.  And if you document and teach others the process, you will foster independent thinking in your staff that will ensure that the business will thrive long after you are no longer there.