I came to know the “Four M’s” through the International Labour Organisation, and since encountering it for the first time I use this simple concept not only in my own business but also in training aspiring entrepreneurs. Regularly reflecting on the “Four M’s” as a strategic tool to grow your business is critical to business development.
The “Four M’s” are essential elements all successful start-ups need to have in place before going into business. In turn, established entrepreneurs need to continuously balance the “Four M’s” as their businesses grow. It is important not to focus too much on any one of the elements, but to balance: Me, Market, Management and Money effectively.
This is the most important element of your business – it is what makes it unique, motivates, defines and drives the business. Your business should reflect your personal strengths – whether you love crunching numbers or creating concepts – make sure to incorporate “You” into your business blueprint.
By doing what you love, you will be able to overcome disappointment and financial challenges which may crop up during your journey as an entrepreneur.
Remember that you are the jockey, the driver and the visionary. The best horse cannot win the race without the jockey – it is important to believe in your business and live by example through the core values of your business. An entrepreneur should show commitment, determination, leadership, tolerance of risk, creativity, self-reliance and the ability to adapt to excel.
The second “M” – Market – represents product and customer. The fundamentals of marketing remain key for this element of business success. It starts with analysing your market and planning your strategy: Who are your clients and how will you reach them?
Consider the eight fundamentals of marketing – people, place, promotion, price, product, processes, physical evidence, as well as productivity and quality.
Your target market may change as your business grows – be adaptable and attentive to the needs of your market. Your market is a critical element of your business’ success and it needs to be nurtured and responded to appropriately. So, keep your ear on the ground to stay in tune with your market’s needs and wants.
The jockey does not have to be the manager of all the operations and support functions of your business, but it is your duty as founder of the business to ensure that the fundamentals are in place. Institute controls by identifying strengths and weaknesses in yourself and your team. Then implement solutions to avoid any pitfalls or risks in your business.
Even if you are a one-man/ women operation without any team members, you may not be able to fulfil all the functions of your business professionally. In this case it is better to outsource to another start-up or small business.
Stop “being the business” and start managing the business – not only managing the people in the business (team, contractors and market) but also the processes and deliverables of the business.
We normally put too much emphasis on money, particularly when it comes to spending and profit. A mistake most entrepreneurs make is to use their business account as their personal petty cash. Even more critical than the other three M-elements of a successful business, once you run out of money, it will mean the end of the business.
It is crucial to separate business and personal finances – and to be very prudent in the first few years of running your business, especially when you start making profit. Keep tight record, develop regular forecasts, avoid overdrafts, watch interest rates, keep track of expenses, bank all income, self-fund if possible and check bank statement regularly. Re-invest your profits into the growth and development of the business, the reward will be well worth the investment.