New Years is a great time for business owners to evaluate where they’ve been and look forward to where they are going. It’s also a good time to implement systems and strategies to get you where you want to be in the future.
Here are Kimberly’s top ten business precepts that will help your business prosper:
1. Know your numbers. Opinions, like “we’re doing really well” or “we could be doing better,” are subjective and relative; numbers are facts. The exact same number could be seen as an indicator of doing really well or as cause for improvement within the same organization but from differing points of view. When you know your numbers, you have a definite point of reference in which to seek change or growth. There are key metrics to track for every business, and you can only influence those metrics when you know where you stand. Kimberly has a system for identifying your business’ key metrics, and then tracking them in a way that is graphical so you always know where you are. Once you know where you are, you will know the next steps to take to grow your business.
2. It takes more than just a good product or service. A good product or service is the minimum standard that justifies your business’ continued existence. It takes more if you actually want to succeed and prosper. Your clients’ experience doing business with you and your company is what makes the difference, and you need to have a way of evaluating your clients’ experience in a way that it can be identified, delivered consistently, and continuously improved. There is a method for doing just that, and we help our clients design that process for their businesses.
3. Persistence pays off. In his book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill wrote about the prospector who gave up when his mine seemed to dry up and sold everything to a junk dealer for next to nothing. The junk dealer got a second opinion about the mine, and realized that where the previous owner left off was three feet from the gold vein. He made millions, while the previous owner learned a costly lesson about giving up too easily. The road to success has plenty of obstacles, and there will be times when it will be tempting to throw in the towel. You only fail when you quit, though, and as long as you persist you are on your way to success.
4. Be a lifetime learner. Distinct from persistence but related to it is being a lifetime learner. If you think you have all the answers and you know everything there is to know about your industry, your business, or even yourself – you are sunk. There will eventually come a time when your own knowledge will be exhausted, and that point comes sooner than you might think. If you assume you know it all, you will not seek to learn what you need to succeed. You’ll blame your struggle on the economy, or your industry, or some other source outside of yourself. Persistence will occur to you as a drudgery and you will hate your life and your business. If you take on being a lifetime learner instead, you are in the right frame of mind to get the knowledge you need when you need it. Your life and your business will be enjoyable, you will make headway on growth, and persistence will occur to you as just part of the game.
5. Get coaching. Have you ever noticed that when professional sports teams struggle, they don’t get new players, they get a new coach? Business owners who struggle often think they just need a better salesperson, or if they only had more staff it would all work out. Getting new players (staff) without changing underlying problems won’t help. A coach can look at your business objectively from the outside and point out where what you need to do differently. A coach can also tell you when you are on the right track, so you don’t waste time and resources trying everything under the sun to figure out what works. Business owners who can follow in the footsteps of other more successful business owners (who coach) shorten the time it takes to reach viability, and ultimately profitability and expansion.
6. Systematize your delivery. It may be counter-intuitive that to be able to deliver top-notch, personalized service, you have to have a system in place, but it is true. Business owners are sometimes reluctant to put a system in place, thinking that they don’t want to treat their clients like a number. We don’t want that either. When you have a well-designed system in place for delivery, you make sure that each and every client gets the fullest attention because you are spending your time focusing on actually delivering to them, not figuring out how to deliver. You will have the ability to add personal touches and give a quality service for a higher volume of clients without being overwhelmed. Kimberly helps business owners design delivery systems that work and are scalable based on client volume.
7. Document your processes. The difference between a business that runs smoothly and one that doesn’t is often in the documented processes. When team members don’t know what to do, they don’t do anything or they make it up as they go along – neither of which makes for a cohesive and functioning team. With written processes, you can have new hires performing their duties more quickly and you have clearly set expectations for performance for everybody. When it comes time to exit the business, businesses that have well-documented policies, procedures, and processes are more valuable and easier to sell than businesses that don’t, and businesses without any written procedures are very difficult to sell, even with an established and loyal customer base.
8. Make sure you have a solid foundation. Just like a house, your business can only be as large as the foundation it rests upon, and it can only be as strong as the foundation is solid. In business, that foundation is your legal, risk management, financial, and tax systems. Holes in a business’ foundation leave it vulnerable to being wiped out in a crisis, which is a tragedy given the time and financial commitment that business owners put into their companies. It’s even more tragic for family owned businesses, where the condition of the business can impact the quality of the relationships within the family. You cannot start too early in making sure that your business is on a solid foundation. We use the business foundation strength audit when we work with our business clients.
9. Get your exit strategy in order. Businesses that do not have a plan in place for the eventual death or disability of one or more owners rarely survive the transfer process. Many business owners have most of their assets tied up in their businesses, and when tragedy strikes, a business without a plan and without salability is almost impossible to get cash for. If the business sells, it sells for a fraction of what it would have if the proper planning and systems had been in place. Even if you have made a plan, without periodic updates as things change it may not function when you need it. We help business owners make these plans, and we have ongoing relationships with our clients so that these plans can evolve over time to always be effective.
10. Maintain a higher standard. Author Greg Reid has interviewed numerous successful people and written about their lessons in reaching their status. He interviewed Evander Holyfield, and the famous boxer told him that he succeeded because he had a higher standard than his competition. When you have a higher standard than your competition, in both client experience and product or service quality, your clients will notice and you will have no competition. Not really. Your people will love you and be loyal, so it won’t matter if your competition is slashing their prices, or making obnoxious commercials, or doing whatever they are doing to get attention.
Here’s a video of Greg Reid talking about his interview with Evander Holyfield –
You know what a higher standard looks like in your business, and even your life. If you keep your eye on maintaining that higher standard, things will go your way this year, and beyond.
If you are a small or mid-sized business owner and like our philosophy, we would love to be part of your success this year. Call us today at (612) 206-3701 or fill out our contact form to schedule a business consultation session.
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