Marc Pakbaz is an interesting guy and I like him. I’m going to miss a big portion of his history here but, in short, he is from Iran, lived in France (where he built and sold a business), and now lives in America (where he built and sold a business). He’s a teacher, consultant, serial entrepreneur, and a mentor for CSUF Entrepreneurship. In short, he’s a busy guy and we were ecstatic to have him give a talk for us last night at the CSUF Irvine campus.
At his talk, Marc, as is befitting of someone who has led the life he has, gave a fluent discourse on starting or growing a business from the ground up. For example, he started off talking about the normal litany of startup 101 (i.e. LLC or partnership, etc.) but then a big “X” went through all of those items on his PowerPoint. Those things are important but they shouldn’t monopolize your time as an entrepreneur.
Instead, your first step should be to define your business. This includes what kinds of activities you focus on, developing your clients/customers, and figuring out who your competition is and what they are up to. He goes on from there in great detail about what he focuses on when starting or growing a business but there is one thing in particular that he focused on that I think is really important: A business is a machine.
Specifically, Marc used images of gears to illustrate this concept. First, he showed a picture of a bunch of gears haphazardly thrown into a box. That won’t work, those gears can’t get anything done. Nothing is aligned and the gears are destined to rust away in that box unless something is done.
The next picture that Marc showed was of gears that are now aligned but they all aren’t connected. Some of the gears are connected but not all of them and this, if you’ve studied business, is setting up things in silos. Individual silos may work well but if they aren’t working well together, across the silos, then the business as a whole isn’t aligned. And when all the parts of a business aren’t working together towards the same goal then it won’t be able to accomplish as much as it could.
A business can accomplish a lot when all of the gears are connected and he showed a complicated setup of gears that all worked together. This may seem facile but if you look past the seeming simplicity of the imagery you will quickly realize creating a business so that it works like a machine is no easy matter.
Marc’s an engineer by training and he definitely thinks like one so now you understand why he used the imagery that he did. But the message conveyed by the images of the gears in various stages of connectivity is a vitally important message that every successful entrepreneur or business leader I know agrees with. Startups (and businesses and any other organization that you can think of) work best when all of its parts are working together towards a common goal.
Heck, Abraham Lincoln may have uttered the most well known line about the importance of an organization working together towards a common goal when he uttered “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
So, who cares? (and) What can you do about this?
The thumbnail sketch of the meat of Marc’s talk is: Take the lean canvas model with its nine different categories (i.e. partners, value proposition, channels, revenue, etc.) and make sure that they all work together in harmony.
It’s a lot of work, but, as Marc expertly explained during his talk, it’s definitely worth it.
To learn more about entrepreneurship make sure to go through the Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship series of articles and videos that we have produced for the community. We are frequently adding content to this series (and I hope to add some videos from Marc’s talk to this series soon) and it’s a great way to learn but if you are ready to act I recommend working with our CSUF Consulting program if you have an existing business or the CSUF Startup Incubator if you have a business concept or are looking to grow a new part of an existing business. Our services have helped thousands of businesses develop strategic plans that have achieved great results. To find out more, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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