Of course the answer to the above question is, it isn’t easy at all. There is no silver bullet.
Having worked with many businesses in various sectors and running two of my own, I know only too well that running a business can be challenging. So why can it be so hard? If I could have a pound for every business owner who has said to me “It’s different for us because ………”, I’d have a very nice little nest egg. Businesses however, are fundamentally the same. There are different challenges for them but the success of them relies on the same principles. Michael Gerber, author of the e-myth will tell you that most people who set up their own business are technicians, not entrepreneurs. That’s why many find it so difficult. We want people to be like us but that is often not the case. We can get disillusioned when things don’t turn out like we expected them to. It’s a bumpy ride, with many up’s and downs.
In my experience, and what I’ve learned is, to run a great business you need to have the following:
Have a great product
It sounds obvious but some new businesses don’t do enough research and it causes stress and unnecessary hardship. The more testing and planning you can do beforehand the better
- Have a product/service that people want to buy
- Know who the product/service is aimed at – do the research
- If you have several products or services, think about streamlining them by working out which products/services generate the most profit or which are people most likely to buy
- If it’s a service you are selling, segment your clients into specific areas e.g. if you have two services, one more expensive than the other, segment your current clients into each service. It’s important for you to know how much it costs to deliver each service. Remember you want to make a profit so ideally it should be 40% Cost of Sale 40% Operating Costs and 20% profit.
- Design the most efficient service for that particular set of clients e.g. meeting with them on-line rather than face to face or email support instead of 1-2-1 phone calls.
- Wrap that product/service into a package i.e. present it so it is attractive so that people will want to buy it. Again test this before launching it to your clients/customers.
- Stand out from the crowd if your product/service is in a saturated market place. You can do this if you invest in great marketing.
- Continue to assess if the product/service is still relevant – very important to do this. You do this by asking for feedback from your current clients (make sure they can do this confidentially).
Be a Great Leader!
We all like to think we’re great leaders but if you do think you are, you probably need some feedback from your colleagues.
- Understand what your core values are (see link to how you go about doing this is here)
- Make sure they are visible in the office and mention them often
- Only employ people who share your core values (when you advertise jobs put your core values on the advert)
- Be prepared to have challenging conversations if anyone displays behaviour that does not fit with your core values
- Know your Why. We know people buy people but the more compelling you can be in getting your ‘why’ out there the more people will engage with you. It’s easy to write down the what and the how but not so easy to articulate your ‘why’. Quite often it can be personal and also emotional.
- Make sure you are self-aware as a leader and surround yourself with people who will be positive and constructive. Create a culture that is open, honest and collaborative.
- Develop your staff to improve retention
- Encourage staff to be creative and resourceful
- You don’t have all the answers so be prepared to ask for help when you need to.
- Listen, as in (REALLY) Listen
- Create a culture of accountability. Don’t be the “fixer” of everything.
Put aside time to work on the business
Many business owners get caught up in the “Whirlwind” which makes them become reactive rather than proactive.
- Set business Key Performance Indicators e.g. profit and loss, cashflow, marketing plan, networking plan and review at least quarterly
- Create systems and processes that will allow your business to grow and scale up. This is especially important in the early phases of a business as change can happen rapidly.
- Encourage people to challenge why systems and processes are being put in place.
- Set up team meetings and get your team involved in the business.
Sign up for free stuff!
- Although this doesn’t help my business at all there is lots of business support as well as coaching and mentoring out there that is free.
- Think about the support that would add value to you. Look into what’s available for your business.
I know there is quite a lot of information above but if you prioritise the tasks into what you think is going to have the biggest impact and work from there, it will start to come together.
If you think the above sounds useful and you don’t have access to free stuff but want some guidance and support to implement, then I can help.
The areas I specialise in is Franchise Consultancy, Business Transition, Business Couples (people who are partners in life as well as business) and Leadership & Coaching Training.