Kenneth E. Fields
7 Scaling Secrets - #2 - What’s Our Current Situation? (The President and The State of the Union)
George Washington at the Signing of the Constitution - Howard Chandler Christy,1940
Friday, January 8. The President of the United States stands before the Senate and the House to give them his perspective on the ‘State of the Union’. The 1089 words rang out through New York’s Federal Hall. Wait, only 1089 words?! New York?! This address was no ordinary State of the Union, it was the first ever, delivered by George Washington in 1790.
"He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."
— Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution
The State of the Union today is often used for political purposes, but it was created for the President to give a big picture view of what was going on in the country and what needed to be done as a result.
That big picture view is exactly where we start when we want to scale a company.
Who are our customers?
What do we provide them?
How do we provide it?
What are our financial drivers?
The goal is to understand the big picture BEFORE diving into the details.
Often the review of the big picture highlights some opportunities for improvement:
Are we focused on the right customer segments?
How are we connecting with them? Is this the best way?
What suppliers are key for us? How is our relationship with them managed?
What makes us different from our competitors? Is it sustainable?
What’s our cash flow situation? How would we navigate a cash crisis?
Understanding the “State of the Business” gives us the opportunity to take a high-level view while also providing some hints about where we need to do deep dives.
Want to do this for yourself? Just take a piece of paper, turn it lengthwise (i.e. landscape) and draw a line down the middle. The right side is your ‘front stage’ – what the customer sees. The left side is your ‘backstage’ – what you have to do to make things happen. Answer the questions above and write down your answers on the appropriate side of the page. Then, take a step back and look for the opportunities that present themselves…we bet you’ll be surprised at what you find!