Business Infrastructure 101

If you’re considering starting a business, then there’s a lot you’ll need to keep in mind. Building a flourishing business is a dream shared by many. Few of us dare to try the endeavor, and even fewer see success. Fortunately for us, there are more than a few resources out there for people who are thinking about launching their own business.

Eric Dahan, the CEO and co-founder of Open Influence, published his thoughts in an article featured in Entrepreneur. His advice? “Act small, dream big.” Or in other words, advance your grand vision through a series of realistic steps. (Avoid biting off more than you can reasonably chew.) Of course, the suggestion is much easier said than done, especially because you, like many other entrepreneurs, are likely to be more than a little bit enthusiastic about the whole process. Dahan’s remaining takeaways are equally important: (1) being flexible is better than being right, (2) build a smart team, and (3) be passionate.

Reconsider Your Mindset

The best advice about anything usually avoids telling you exactly what to do and instead forces you to reconsider your default mindset. The same is true for business. Bram Krommenhoek does an excellent job of sharing some controversial yet informative pointers on his Medium blog. He begins by emphasizing how important it is for aspiring entrepreneurs to get user feedback and resist acting on empty assumptions. Continuously validating your hypotheses is essential to success.

People and Scaling

Krommenhoek’s remaining two takeaways are also integral: (1) make people the focus of your product/service and (2) don’t begin with things that scale well. The former is intuitive enough, but the latter often confuses people. Krommenhoek tells his readers that some of the most iconic brands began with products, services, processes, and practices that often defied scaling. His point is that those companies instead focused on continuous learning in pursuit of product perfection (i.e. improvement).

Fortunately, the timing probably couldn’t be better for launching a new business. Forbes contributor, David Pridham, predicted nothing but promising things for 2018. He explains the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and underscores the importance of changes to the US patent system. Another key takeaway is the fact that the gig economy has made it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to realize success. Combine that knowledge with insights from Inc. writer Emily Canal, who predicted the hottest business sectors for 2018, and you already have some viable direction.

Antagonists like to point out that once you’ve built a successful business, scaling becomes absolutely imperative, which seemingly contradicts Krommenhoek’s earlier guidance. That’s not necessarily the case, though. The first thing to remember is that certain things simply cannot be scaled well. That means you should focus on what can be: people and intelligence. Bill Green, a published author and CEO of LendingOne, shares some salient thoughts about scaling for the former. According to him, there are five categories to consider before devoting resources to scaling your business. He reminds readers to remain optimistic and to focus relentlessly on their customers while tailoring the experience to them as much as possible.

Then comes scaling the technology that powers your growing business. People are still consistently underestimating the centrality of reliable business infrastructure. As a result, countless businesses are risking serious consequences for often negligible cost savings. Don’t make that mistake. Megan Totka at Small Biz Trends already highlighted the most common technologies utilized to drive core business practices. Examples include accounting and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions in addition to social media profiles and cloud storage.

Employ Security Measures

As you can probably imagine, successful businesses are collecting an abundance of data. Security and business intelligence (BI) are the two biggest implications of having so much valuable data at your fingertips. It’s almost impossible to downplay how crucial it is to protect user data. Neglecting to do so could result in your business making the headlines for yet another data breach. Fortunately, using industry standard technologies also means you can typically ensure the highest degree of data security (e.g. Docker security). Tapping into cybersecurity experts like the pros at TwistLock is also a sound strategy, especially if you want to maximize the value of your investments.

Use the Data You’ve Gathered

Once you’re confident that user data is safe and secure, the next step is finding ways to extract key insights to inform decision-making. That’s the point of business intelligence (BI). Jeff Pruitt, the Chairman and CEO of Tallwave, wrote in Inc about how to build a solid business intelligence infrastructure. He declares it “near impossible to move your organization in the right direction without the right insights to guide decision-making.” That’s really an understatement. Organizations that fail to rely on data for decision-making also risk wasting precious time and resources on mere speculation. At the end of the day, what’s the point of gathering all that data if you don’t plan to exploit it?

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