Here are some key lessons from those who are already successful business owners
I’ve been reading a book of case studies of business owners who got their companies to make the big leap from being ok companies to being great companies. As I read through the various chapters I started to see a set of trends emerging.
The successful business owners were able to make the leap from doing the work to running the business. Many people who start their own business are unable to shed the feeling that they have to do the work, even when they take on team members. But for a business to flourish they have to get away from the coal face, stand back and lead; that can’t happen when they’re stuck in the day to day work.
We all know the story – “what happens if I train my people and then they all leave?”. “What happens if you don’t train them and they stay?” As a business develops it brings new challenges for everyone from the boss downwards. Most of these can be overcome by greater knowledge and understanding and that comes from training and coaching. And figures suggest that if you do invest in training for your team they’re more likely to stay than go.
If you’re going to run a business successfully then you need customers. Concentrating on building up a strong and constantly growing customer base was a key theme I picked out from the studies. Seems obvious but it’s not as simple as that. Not all customers are the same so time needs to be spent understanding the different types. Look at them individually and grade them according to things like how quickly they pay you, how much business they do with you, how they treat you generally. This will provide you with a table of good and not so good customers who you can then deal with appropriately – perhaps even firing some of them if they cause more trouble than they’re worth.
Successful businesses get into a rhythm – daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings. As the business grows then these become departmental meetings that feed into the overall management meeting rhythm. Keep the meetings short and make sure that actions are clear and that the information gets to everyone who needs to know.
Test and measure
This links into the meetings; sort out a set of key result indicators for your business – covering everything important to your business – like the success from advertising the business, number of customers through the door, bottom line profit – whatever gives you a good understanding of what’s happening. You can’t run a business on gut feeling.
This comes back to the leadership bit. Successful business owners take time out from the business to look at what happened in the past, what’s happening now and what is expected in the future. They do this for things inside the company and outside; no good basing your future plans on a past boom time if a recession is on the horizon.
Successful business owners build up a belief in themselves and their team. Sometimes they didn’t have that at the start but by following the simple ideas above and making some good progress they realized that they could do it.