Is Your Business Running You?

Being an entrepreneur sounds exciting. We’re known as the dreamers, the risk-takers, and the rule breakers. Many envy our freedom and see us as the masters of our own destiny.

But there is another side to entrepreneurship — it’s a lonely road to walk. Chat to people who have been on this journey for a while, and they will share stories of rejection, failure, and self-doubt. Coupled with that, as entrepreneurs, we are juggling our time, focus, and energy — while we have to stay competitive, pay salaries, manage cash flow and spend time with our loved ones. It’s a recipe for burnout.

Entrepreneurship can break people, and many lose their way. It’s sad but true. Look at the prevalence of businesses that fail in their first year. With this in mind, I started to think about developing a tool for entrepreneurs that could help them stay on track by focusing their time and energy on the things that really matter.

I started to look for anything I could use as inspiration. Every tool I found turned out to be complicated and not very intuitive. The closest I came to something straightforward was the Boston Box framework. Developed by Boston Consulting in the early seventies, it is still in use today.

I like the cause-and-effect nature of the Boston Box. It clearly shows if you do one thing, it will affect another thing. This, for me, is key. The Boston Box is also easy to understand and the learnings are memorable. It uses graphics to explain the different quadrants on the model, which gives it a storytelling approach.

This exercise motivated me even more, as I realised there clearly was a need for such a tool. So, I set out, with the help of my sister-in-law — an industrial psychologist — to create a framework for entrepreneurs.

After weeks of meetings, we had the basics of the framework down. We wanted to make the tool simple — super simple. So, we split it into three areas: the Front Office, which is all about how you get clients and keep them; the Middle Office, which is all about why your business exists in the first place and what differentiates it; and the Back Office, which is all about how you do what you do and how you teach others to do the same.

We gathered a group of twenty entrepreneurs to test the Diagnostic Tool. The feedback was very encouraging. Apart from moaning about too many questions to answer, everyone loved its intuitive nature. The Diagnostic Tool showed them what was missing in their business and where they should focus their time and energy.

I realised the tool had massive potential to help businesses big and small, and I couldn’t stop there. I had to turn the tool into a story. Because if there is one thing I know about people, it’s this: you need to grab their attention.

I thought about how I could package the message into a compelling story, and then it hit me! The three sections of the Diagnostic Tool — the Front, Middle, and Back Office —were represented by five colour-coded circles. These could be five coloured coffee pods! This inspired my story of a coffee shop owner who loses his way — and almost his businessIf you started out running your business and it’s now running you. You might like to read:

I Don’t Need Another Inspirational Quote, I Need Coffee, you can get it here.

And if you’d like to identify the gaps in your business holding you back, try this free introduction to the Diagnostic Tool.

About the author

Garth Jemmett

Garth Jemmett is the Founder and Owner of We Explain Stuff, a visual communications consultancy that specialises in driving sales by making products, services and strategies easy to understand. Through storytelling, visual thinking and data analysis,

he helps businesses bridge communication gaps.

He lives in London with his wife Lisa, his two boys, Joe and Sam, and his two furry children, Coco and Ash. He is always on the lookout for new types of craft beer and really good coffee. And when not working or spending time with his family, he can be found conquering mountains on his bike.