Life is about opinions. There is never a shortage of people willing to give you the benefit of their wisdom, especially when it comes to running a successful business. With this in mind, here are a few pointers that I hope you will find helpful.
As Frank Carson used to say “it’s the way I tell ’em”. This famous punch line can apply to running a business. Statistics show that most successful businesses have a clear leadership. Whether this comprises one or a few determined individuals is a moot point, but focus and direction are key ingredients to success. Your goal is to try to make the business take on the unique personality of the decision makers, who should instill their ethos into the management, employees and product range it offers. The business should merely be an extension of the characters of the owner managers.
Product or customer led?
It is often quoted that every profitable, successful business needs to have a tried and tested world beating product; a magical good or service that is sought after by its current and potential customers. Obviously this is a simple basic requirement although is it really that important? A business that relies solely on its products to the detriment of what its customers want is a business that is destined to fail in the long run. The business must always recognise that it is the customer and not its management that knows best. “The customer is always right”. Ask your customers what they want and don’t go on wild goose chases developing what you regard as an award winning product, only to later find out that it’s not what your customers or the market desires. Changing your customers to suit your needs is usually a recipe for disaster. You have to adapt to them!
Don’t be putting all of your eggs into one basket. Don’t be developing infrastructure, systems and products or spending loads of money on promotion before knowing that you can sell them. Little steps become big steps very quickly. Keep your eyes and ears wide open and always be receptive to new ideas. Times change quickly now days – to stay successful, always stay fresh and alert.
A common mistake is to try to take on too much trade without adequate support and finance. It’s one thing to bring home an order, knowing that you can fulfill it with hard work and a friendly banker or family, but it’s another coming home with, what looks to be on paper, a phenomenal order, only to know, in your heart of hearts that it’s something above and beyond your capability, financial or otherwise. There are many companies that fail because they are underfunded. Management will find themselves spending valuable time doing all the wrong things, daily budgets, phone calls to bank managers, fending off creditors and losing out on valuable discounts for early settlement, and offering unnecessary inducements to customers to pay their bills early. The cumulative effects of these can destroy your company.
By all means fall in love with your business, but be aware that love is sometimes blind. If falling in love still lets you see the wood from the trees, then it can be a love story that endures. If however, it means you going off on a wild goose chase, then it will be a love that destroys. Be emotional, but at the same time objective and “usually” let your mind rule your heart.
Wild goose chase
Keep direction. If you start at point A and need to get to point Z, then you usually have to go through twenty four points before you reach your destination. If you decide at point E to deviate very slightly from your aformentioned plan, you could end up very far away from Z and probably not make it at all. That’s not to say that you cannot keep an open mind. Far from it, you must be fully aware what you are doing at all crucial times, but always pinch yourself – remind yourself of what you originally wanted to accomplish and ask yourself am I going in the right direction?
Every business needs a general business plan. It needs to know where it is going. But spending time compiling inordinately complex financial forecasts with enormously complicated and fanciful assumptions is usually a waste of time. You will spend unnecessary time and probably take your eyes off the big picture. To be successful, keep it simple and don’t confuse yourself.
Be a company salesman
Everything in business, and life for that matter, involves an element of sales. Whether it be a product or service you offer, or simply selling yourself, every business interaction you are engaged in will constitute a sale. If you are a salesman, and demonstrate this mentality, then so will your staff.
Hiring too quickly
Quite often you may find that you can do the job quicker and better than others. Hire only when there is either a skillset you are lacking, or time elements and volume of work necessitate additional resource.
Don’t think you are perfect!
No one is and it will cost you! Listen and learn but don’t always act on advice. You know your baby better than anyone else. He’s yours and only yours!
Good luck and enjoy the journey!