Timothy J. Draftz, Contributor
Are you in the Danger Zone? This week’s contributor and B2B CFO Specialist, Timothy J. Draftz gives us some answers.
Most business owners don’t ask, “What is my business?” They know why they started their business and what they want to accomplish. Often they miss the core of “being in business”.
The Danger Zone is the end result of an owner not paying attention to their business.
Every company requires a robust infrastructure. Infrastructure includes employees, vendors, IT systems, operating procedures, policies, and fixed assets. It does not include products, services, and customers; these are the core of “being in business”. Infrastructure supports the core!
There are three stages associated with infrastructure leading up to the Danger Zone:
- Infrastructure Creation: cash flow is positive and cash needs are low.
- Infrastructure Peak: infrastructure is absorbing its maximum level of customer activity, cash flow continues to be positive, while cash needs begin to increase.
- Infrastructure Out-Growth: The critical stage before the Danger Zone occurs as the owner realizes the company has out grown its infrastructure. In order to continue to grow the company, more infrastructure is needed to handle increasing sales.
The Danger Zone as Jerry Mills explains is when the owner becomes “Lost in the Growth Transition”. The success of the company moves the owner’s focus from customers to growing the infrastructure, which in turn, increases cash needs. The owner becomes absorbed in matters best left to the company’s staff. Jerry explains this with a simple diagram of a pyramid with three layers.
Every company is made up of Finders, Minders, and Grinders.
Finders are the business owners/entrepreneurs. They are creative, visionary, risk takers; who act quickly and are confident in their convictions. They are relationship builders, especially with customers. Their time focus is the future. looking to that next customer and to fulfill their needs.
Minders are the Subject Matter Experts of the business; accountants, IT, HR, marketing. They like process and structure, are more risk adverse, and prefer to follow Finders who are good leaders. Their time focus is the past, reporting on activities or results to the Finder.
Grinders are the folks getting the day to day work done at the machine or behind the counter. They like to focus on the task at hand, get one thing done at a time, prefer not to delegate their work, distrust Finders and Minders, but will get the work done they are told to do. Their time focus is getting to 5 o’clock.
Finders are “A” type personalities. When the company was just starting out, they fixed the problems. Sliding into the role of Minders and Grinders is easy for them when a problem arises. Infrastructure issues can trigger this slide into “I’ll fix it myself!” and with it, entry into the Danger Zone. While the owner is focused on “fixing” the problem, who is focusing on the customer?
Someone is spending time with your current and future customers. If not you, then it will be your competition!
To escape the Danger Zone, the owner must return to Finding. Stop trying to solve all problems personally. Rely on others for Minding. Return to finding new customers. Refocus on product and market factors. Let the Minders manage the infrastructure.
You can Escape the Danger Zone.
When the business was small, Minders such as Uncle Fred may have been good enough, but professionals are now required. A B2B CFO can help an owner stay focused on the core of “being in business”. Mentoring Minders. Developing staff. Finding cash. Flexing infrastructure. Communicating the strategic vision of the owner.
Are you a Finder, Minder or Grinder? If you are a Finder, do you have challenges finding new customers? What are they? Post a comment below to start a convo and get answers!
About the contributor: Timothy Draftz is a highly-experienced C-Level executive with over thirty-five years of experience in finance, operations, business development, strategic planning, and information technology in a variety of industries with large corporations as well as small businesses. Currently he is a Partner in the largest CFO firm in North America, B2B CFO.