Laying the essential foundations for long term growth
Every client I work with is in a different situation, with their own unique sets of challenges and opportunities. But whenever I get a group of them together in a room, those challenges and opportunities have far more in common than you might think, because fundamentally, there’s a limited number of essential business basics that are common to us all. Get them right, and most other things quickly fall into place.
So, here are my top six timeless tips for business success, with linked articles for more insights on each one:
1. Have a destination. Be clear on where you want the business to be in three to five years’ time. Don't chase money or quick wins; instead define the type of business you need to be in, and will need to become, to powerfully attract and delight customers over the longer term; then work back from there.
2. Get the right people around you. The one thing that always differentiates the best leaders from the rest, is not their vision, their resilience, their authenticity or their autocratic tendencies; it’s their ability to get great people working with them, all of whom are working to the same agenda and consistently performing to the best of their abilities. Make that your number one focus.
3. Stay focused. Strategy is at least as much about choosing what not to do. Pick the smallest number of big things that can make the greatest difference to the future business, and make sure they happen. Don’t simply add new opportunities or budget overlays to an already busy agenda – prioritise initiatives to keep the agenda tight: one in, one out.
4. Clear goals with flexible routes. Goals define direction but more than that, they push individuals and teams to achieve more than they thought they could. But to really get the most from people, they need to be empowered with the freedom and the space to find new ways to hit, or even surpass those goals; to be able to tear up the plans whenever they find better ways to succeed.
5. Invest in the plan and the people. You can’t cut your way to growth. Put proper time, resources and accountability behind each of the big things on the agenda and invest in the people you have leading them. Return on investment is exactly that. Under-investment invariably equals no return.
6. Manage performance fearlessly. Have clear milestones and check-in points, and where things are starting to slip, objectively evaluate why that might be: is it lack of clarity, lack of desire, lack of capability or lack of resource or priority. Address poor performance fast, before your poor performers cost you your best people.
Can you articulate, on one piece of paper, what you want yourself or your business to be in five years’ time, and what the big steps are that will get you there? Can you explain, in a few sentences, who will make those changes, and how they will be brought about? Do you have absolute confidence that you’ve got the very best talent leading and working on each area, and that they have the capacity and capability to succeed? Do you know, right now, how they are progressing, and what needs to be done to keep them on track?
If the answer to all those questions is "Yes", you've got a pretty good chance of achieving your aims. If not, your future is in your hands.