Three vantage points

Get a better vantage point on your business.

Your Business Questions Answered with James Harris

We have been concentrating on emails from small business owners asking questions about how to manage time effectively.

One question we received recently was from a new business owner who was curious whether the way business owners need to spend their time changes as a business grows and matures.

They wanted to know if there are specific time management strategies for owners of new business start-ups.

The answer is yes, and we are going to look at one today.

If you are in the early stages of setting up a new business, one of the best habits you can develop is to divide your time up to allow you to look at your new business from three specific and unique vantage points.

These vantage points help to facilitate a journey through your business from a macro view down to a micro view.

The first vantage point we will call the entrepreneur’s vantage point.

When looking at your business from this vantage point you are aiming to see the big picture.

This big picture includes your business from the macro level and also the wider competitive environment.

You are thinking about things like what the market you are competing in looks like, how you want your business to look and feel, why you are different from competitors and what is unique about your business.

All the major decisions about big picture topics should have been made before you launched the business, however, it is necessary to regularly make time to look at your business from the entrepreneur’s vantage point to make sure you are still on plan and to make sure nothing important in your competitive environment has changed.

The second vantage point takes us into the business and closer to the action. We’ll call this the manager’s vantage point. From this vantage point you can think about how the business delivers its products and services.

This means equipment, systems, processes and maybe people. These need to be established at least rudimentarily early on in a new business and need to be revisited and revised as the business grows and adapts, or as the competitive environment changes.

The final vantage point is the practitioner’s vantage point.

This is the vantage point from the coal face. At this level you can focus on exactly what needs to be happening operationally within the business. This vantage point is concerned with details and the more specific the better.

This includes thinking about things like what stock is on hand, how many new orders have come in this morning, how many orders need to be filled today, what phone calls need to be returned in the next hour.

If we put all of this together; from the entrepreneur’s vantage point you may be looking at competitors’ current speeds of delivery because your new business has a strategy to deliver customer’s orders faster than any of your competitors.

This prompts you to conduct an examination of your processes from the manager’s vantage point to remove any activities that have been added which are causing delays.

Then, taking the practitioner’s vantage point to look at the current orders that need to be filled today so you can come up with a plan to get them out the door and into the hands of customers as quickly as possible.

Obviously, you won’t keep cycling through each stage in order and the amount of time you spend working from each vantage point will change day to day depending on what is happening.

In the very early days, you might find you spend a lot more time taking the entrepreneur’s vantage point because there are a lot of big picture decisions that need to be made and changed early on, however once your business starts getting traction and you start attracting customers, a lot of time might be spent looking at the business from the practitioner’s vantage point.

Once you have some direct experience with your customers, you then may find you need to devote more time to the manager’s vantage point so you can use that experience to select systems and create processes. Or perhaps you may find you need to devote a considerable amount of time to the entrepreneur’s vantage point again because you made some big assumptions about the customers that you now know to be wrong!

Every business is different, but if you are running a new start-up, you should deliberately plan to spend considerable time moving around between these three vantage points.

If you have a question about managing your time or any other questions about running your business, we’d love to hear from you because we’ll select new questions to answer here every two weeks.

You can submit your question to using the subject ‘CQToday’.