Dec 162011

Three key tips for business success

Every company that wants to grow has three main hurdles to overcome. Take control of these three business needs and your business will charge ahead of he competition.

Grow your executive team

This is physical and mental growth. If you don’t have someone who can run the business on your behalf then you don’t have a business – you have a job. It can sometimes seem like a big decision early in the life of a small business but you really do need to consider carefully taking on a management team. Yes, you will need to find the money to pay them but having a manager, a sales professional and someone to keep the finance under control will help enormously. Delegating tasks to the team allows you to look outwards and upwards; their support is also an invaluable thing when big decisions have to be made. If you feel you really can’t afford a full time team then consider part time directors or sales people.

When you have a team then you need to make sure they grow individually by continuing to learn and improve their own understanding of your business and your market. This is what Steven Covey calls ‘sharpening the saw’ – keeping the mind sharp by constantly improving knowledge.

Systems and processes

You cannot run a business successfully without systems and processes; every business needs order and structure. The bigger, and more complex, a company becomes the more it needs systems and processes. But – importantly – those systems need to be in place before you go for growth. Otherwise your attempts to grow will be held back by inefficiency. The aim of systems and process should be that things are done efficiently and, more importantly, that anyone picking up the systems book should then be able to understand how to do the job. Writing down and testing systems is hard work but you only need to do it once and then the benefits start to accrue.

Another key process you need to develop is the gathering of data from around the firm. Only by measuring things from one day, week, month, year to the next do you get an accurate and clear understanding of how things are progressing (for example, without measuring, how would you know how well your business advertising is doing?). There will be the usual financial measurements to be made (sales figures, cashflow, gross and net profit etc) but there will probably also be a ‘golden number’ that wiIl be unique to your business but which really captures the health of the company. This is sometimes an illusive thing to find but once found is a great way to very easily keep track of growth.

Understand your market

Sounds simple but a lot of people don’t consider the market – and the changes in it – until too late. (One of the reasons they miss important changes is they’re very often head down, looking inwards because they don’t have a management team around them). Quite often a new business will start up to support a particular gap in the market. It will start off well but then start to fall off. This can be the market requirement is now achieved or it can be because the market is moving on. To maintain your business growth you need to constantly be thinking about how you can expand your offering and how the market is changing. Even established companies like McDonalds need to keep looking at market change; they started off with burgers and fries but today they have adapted to the desire for healthy eating by providing more salad products and displaying the calorie count on their products.

Sometimes success comes from doing the basic things properly. Get these three things right and you will see great progress in your firm.