11 Tips for a Successful Business (Pt. 1)
Not what you are expecting to hear
For someone who never thought they would be running a business and has now been at the helm of one for more than a decade, I think I am well positioned to share how I took my parent’s small backyard operation and turned it into a multi-million dollar business.
As some of you might know, I did not start my career in “business” but rather as a journalist working for some of the biggest news organisations in the world. Go to my website if you are interested in learning more about that facet of my life daizygedeon.com.
It was not until I stepped in to manage my parent’s distribution business, after taking a sabbatical from journalism and filmmaking, that I was forced to rewire my brain and re-educate myself into a more structured mindset that is absolutely imperative to being able to manage, build and grow a successful business.
And it is from that experience, gained over the past 10 years or so that I formed the following beliefs and realisations about what it REALLY takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Please note the 11 Tips for a Successful Business below are in no order of priority. ALL are equally important!
Tip # 1: Knowing WHY you are in Business
If you haven’t read the book “Start with Why” by @SimonSinek and you are in business or thinking of starting your own business, then I advise/instruct/implore you, without hesitation, to read it. Even better watch his famous TEDTalk by clicking on this link.
Everything starts with WHY. If you don’t know WHY you really want to run your own business – and it has to be far more compelling than – “to make a lot of money” or “run my own show” then you are starting behind the 8 ball and that’s not a good place to be because running your own business is like running the gauntlet EVERY SINGLE DAY, putting out fires, solving relentless problems, dealing with complaints, managing staff and their individual idiosyncrasies, amongst a million other issues that will constantly arise and prevent you from focusing on what you would prefer to be doing.
To understand and determine your WHY requires you to get REAL and go deep. You have to get really personal with yourself and understand what it is you FEAR most and also what you DESIRE most in the world, because it is these two emotions that drive every human being. If you know what you fear most you will do whatever it takes to avoid it. Similarly, if you know what you desire most you will be prepared to work your ass off or jump through a million hoops to get it. That’s why it can’t be flippant or menial – it has to come from your deep belief that normally you only talk to yourself about in your head or daydream about.
So Tip # 1 – Know your Why!
TIP # 2: Build a GREAT TEAM – surround yourself with GREAT people
This is an easy statement to make but in practice it is a very, very, very difficult thing to achieve. When you start your business you might only need one person to support you, then as you grow you need more and more with skills that are diverse and unfamiliar to you. You are not across what they do or their expertise so you could be easily be misled as to how hard a task might be or how much time it takes to complete and what resources are necessary. You believe the advice given at face value and sometimes, sadly, too often, if you don’t have great people around you, they take advantage of your naivety or ignorance and that costs you time and time costs you money and money, or the lack of it, is what causes nearly ALL businesses to fail.
What I mean by great people is, yes, people who know their stuff, are experts or great at what they do and they love what they do. It might be the accountant who is quiet but loves numbers, or the receptionist who is a consummate professional on the phone and dresses well, always representing you and your brand in the best way; or it could be a sales person who loves their clients and gives time to them and makes sure their jobs are done as per their strict instructions and they follow up internally and with the client and that client totally appreciates that extra mile that person goes to; or the employee that is always in the office 30mins to 1 hour early, getting their day sorted and structured and happily working away because THEY know what they do is a reflection of who they are and not you or your business. These are examples of the behaviour and habits of GREAT team members. These are the people who understand that whilst you are the boss, you have your own job to do and your own concerns and responsibilities and if they shoulder their burden well they lift a load off your shoulders so you can do your job better and grow your company. If your business grows, they too can grow. It is all organic and holistic. I am so blessed to have quite a few staff who I would categorise as GREAT and I continue to search for more because I know you are out there.
So Tip # 2 – Get Great People
TIP # 3: SINGING YOUR OWN PRAISES
What I have discovered both with my own business and supporting hundreds of other companies grow their businesses, you MUST be willing to and confident of sharing your successes and what you do brilliantly with everyone. This is really important because many people interpret this as “showing off” or “promoting yourself” – and in Australia we suffer from “Tall Poppy Syndrome” which means we don’t want or like people who think they are better than anyone else. The issue is if you don’t think you’re good or great at what you do, why do you think anyone wouldant to buy or work with you?
If you are not proud of what you do and are prepared to speak about it and share it and advertise it, then you will suffer from people thinking you are a “Nice Guy” or a “Nice Lady” but you won’t secure the deals that will truly take your business to the next level.
One of my biggest frustrations with clients who have a great business, but who are struggling to grow or make money is that they don’t believe they should spend money on marketing and advertising themselves or their business, sometimes for the reasons mentioned above and they hold themselves back and eventually they fail. The reason why the most successful businesses are “The Most Successful” is because they DO advertise and promote themselves. They know that at least 10% of their budget (depending the size of their turnover, it could be higher or lower depending the size) must be spent on marketing and getting the word out about their products or services and they are not shy about stating it and they use phrases such as: “We are the best…” “The Number One…” “The Fastest…” “The Smartest…” and we all hear it or see it or read it and we believe them because “it must be true otherwise they wouldn’t say it”. – RIGHT?!
So Tip #3 – Sing Your Praises
Tip #4: Without Systems & Processes You Are Trapped
I am sure you have heard the expression – “you need to spend more time ON your business and less time IN it”. I remember when my business was growing and I had gone through a phase of hiring 5 people to help do the work, I was told by a wonderful business coach at the time, Jane Challinor, that if I didn’t write systems and processes I was DOOMED to remain a small business and I would always be involved IN the business. She taught me about the “Turn Key” principle which was a phrase coined by McDonalds when they created their User Manuals which every new Franchise store had to implement to the letter otherwise they would not secure the licence.
I remember being blown away by the concept, which basically stems from the view that any new staff member should be able to pick up the Manual or Handbook for their particular job and follow the instructions to learn exactly how to do their job. It had to be written in a way that was so easy to understand that a 13-year-old could do it. Why? Because McDonalds, back in the day, used to hire a lot of young people to work in their stores so they could keep their wages bills low. So they had to make the art of making a Big Mac, etc. so simple that a 13yo starting work that day, could be productive almost instantly.
Also, because they wanted ALL their stores to make a Big Mac exactly the same way whether you walked into a McDonalds in Broken Hill, New York, Paris or Timbuktu. This consistency is what made them so successful and since then it has become a phrase that is used in businesses the world over.
The other big reason why systems and processes are so important is that they create efficiencies and productivity which means one person can do far more with their time which in turn reduces the need for multiple people and reduces wages. People are the most important part of any business but they are also the most expensive. So if you hire GREAT people who work efficiently you are on the path to profitability and success. But if you have great people AND systems and processes, you will be liberated and you will have a valuable asset that you can eventually sell. – if you choose! Which is what every business strives for and needs.
So Tip #4 Create Simple Systems and Processes.
Tip #5: Leave Friendship at the Door
This is an interesting point and one that gets confusing when you are a business owner. The reason behind that comment is because as a business owner you have to wear many hats especially in the beginning when you are understaffed. But as you grow and you have staff, you then need to learn to MANAGE them and because each person is different, management styles need to be adapted. The issue is managing staff and ensuring they are being as productive and efficient and engaged as possible is REALLY one of the hardest roles you can ever have in business. What I found the most difficult thing is that
I wanted to treat everyone like a friend so when it came to confronting them when they did not perform or failed to do their job well, it was very difficult. The lines were blurred and it was hard to set consequences and make them accountable. Instead I would have a friendly conversation and ask them politely to fix the problem and make sure they didn’t let it happen again.
Let me tell you this has caused me the greatest loss of money, time, effort, training, and success. I am not saying you can’t be warm and respectful and kind and caring to your staff you CAN but you have to do it in a manner that makes them know that they MUST get their job done and meet all KPIs and targets. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that it is very rare, but not impossible, to find people who you can be really friendly with and they will maintain a very high work ethic. I have people in my team now who are like that and they get on with their job even though I am warm and friendly with them, but I have to admit, I have pulled back compared to how I was when I first recruited people. I am more reserved and contained with my friendship because I don’t want them to misunderstand or misinterpret it – so I draw the line.
At the end of the day we all, or most of us anyway, WANT to be liked and friendly, it is a much easier way to be with people than serious and results driven, but you need to be serious and results driven if you are to be successful. So you have to find that fine line, that balance otherwise you, the business owner, loses out not the employee because your business will struggle and most likely fail while they can just go and find another job.
So Tip #5: Leave Friendship at the Door
That’s it for this blog…stay tuned for Part 2. Here’s a sneak peak at the topics I will be discussing in the next blog:
Tip #6: Don’t Fear Failure…but do it Fast
Tip #7: Make Decisions Quickly
Tip #8: No Guts no Glory
Tip #9: Values that are aligned
Tip #10: Treat everyone equally
Tip #11: Keep your eye on your money
Hope you found this useful and check you in two weeks please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be only too happy to engage with you online or offline.
From my heart to yours,