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What Is a Business Framework?

When people ask how I help small business owners get control, I often talk about creating a business framework. While in my mind this has been a clear idea, I think that I’ve sometimes struggled to make it equally clear for others.

What is a framework? A framework is a structure, or a set of basic supports that keeps a business from resting solely on the back of the owner. Think of it as putting up a scaffold around a building under construction. But it can be so much more than that. And the beauty of a business framework is that the basic structure can be so universal, yet so uniquely adapted to each business.

I’ve recently found a way to explain this in the unlikeliest of places: the toy room. My kids have take up playing with LEGOs. They play with their own sets, and I pull out some of my own from when I was a kid and play with them. But, as I’ve learned more about the LEGO system, I’ve found that it is really just a framework for play.

Each brick that Lego had produced since their start is compatible with every other brick. That includes the oversized DUPLO bricks for small hands. They are all interchangeable. They can all be used to create amazing structures.

And yet, a LEGO brick is not the toy. It is a tool for the toy. It is a part of the framework that creates the toy. These same bricks can be used to create a tower or car at the hands of a 4-year-old, or to create a complete recreation of the Las Vegas Strip in the hands of a master builder. The bricks are universal. The bricks are the framework.

In the same way, a business is composed of basic bricks. These bricks are sometimes divided into various functions like finances and accounting, sales and marketing, or strategic planning. However each of the building blocks of a business is just a brick. It’s what you, as a business owner, do with those bricks that creates the magic in your business.

Being able to read an Income Statement is one level of using the bricks. Being able to use the information on that accounting report to make informed decisions that help you to grow your business is another way to use that brick.

Similarly, the bricks can be combined in different ways to create vastly different end results. Apple, Walmart, and your corner bakery are all built with the same bricks. Some companies may have more bricks to build with – success and using money well will get you more bricks if you want them – but they all play with the same bricks. A successful exterminator uses the same bricks as a sought-after caterer. It’s how they combine those bricks, and the structure they choose to create that determines what their business does and how it grows.

Knowing what the basic building bricks of a business are, and knowing many of the ways they can be combined, is what gives me the confidence to tell a business owner that I can help her, even if I’ve never been in her industry before. I help business owners know what the bricks are, and how they can be fit together. Because like LEGOs, a business is a system where all of the building bricks need to fit together. That is what a business coach brings to the relationship. The business owner brings the knowledge of how they want the pieces to fit, which pieces they most want to emphasize, and the colors they want to build with.

Together, the knowledge of the standard bricks, and the vision of how those bricks should combine, can lead to the creation of an incredible business that people admire and want to be a part of.

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