Treat your business like an airplane

Mike Clark Opinion Mike Clark is director and lead trainer and facilitator at Think Right business training company.





Following on from last week, when we used the plane analogy for businesses, I want to explore business essentials further. Much like the airlines have different planes for different routes, so company sizes and structure need to be appropriate to the clients you are serving and the vision you have. The bigger the vision the more robust your plane needs to be. In his excellent book The E-Myth, Michael Gerber recommends all businesses structure themselves for growth and do the basics of a full organisational chart and look at all the systems required. It is an exercise worth doing as it shows the many hats entrepreneurs wear and can help give clarity. Whatever size you have chosen to be, or are aiming to grow to, your plane needs to have a body and engines. The body of the plane is a great representation of your overheads. Much like the airlines, you want to keep this as lean as possible. Minimise baggage. If you have ever looked out of a window seat before a flight there is a good chance you have seen pilots do a check of the plane before every take-off. How often do you check your plane? Are you carrying excess baggage? If you are too heavy you will not take off and/or will use too much fuel to stay airborne. Overheads can include rent, programmes and systems, support staff, etc. Getting overheads in order can improve profitability and make for a safer, more enjoyable journey. The engines on a plane are an excellent analogy for what is required to get lift off and maintain flight. As you go from where you are to where you want to be you need sales. To make sales, people need to know you exist and what you offer, ie, marketing. For smaller, single-engine planes, this role is often wrapped up in one person. For larger companies marketing is like the right engine — it helps provide the thrust needed for lift-off. Marketing is about communicating a consistent, clear message. The clearer the message and calls to action the more fuel-efficient the engine. How clear and consistent is your marketing message? Your left engine is sales. Marketing provides part of the thrust and drive and sales matches this by converting leads into customers. This engine can chew through fuel fast if it is not welltuned and carefully monitored. Do you have a sales playbook or sales process your reps actually use? Not being clear on the sales process can lead to a low conversion rate, which is the equivalent of having your sales engine trying to operate with a leaking fuel line. What is your conversion rate and is your sales engine well-tuned and effective? Remember you do not rise to the level of your goals but rather fall to the level of your systems. That is why the airline industry has such robust systems. Occasionally frustrating — yes, but essential for ensuring the safe arrival of all passengers. How confident are you about your destination point this time next year? What aspects of your plane do you need to check or fix? Having regular maintenance checks will give your team the confidence you can deliver for your clients both now and into the future.