With over twenty years’ experience in business, I’m often asked how to be successful in business. There’s no one size fits all answer to that question, but I’ve been thinking about it lately and here are my reflections on success, and how to achieve it:
- Get a business plan written, and each year utilise it to revive your focus and thinking. If in doubt attend Cranfield Business Growth and Development Programme to refine your strategy (or even learn what it is) and then keep focused on the singular things that drive your economic engine. Say no to the rest.
I learned over time to take myself out of the business to rewrite and review the key factors we set about achieving with goals for the year, broken down into ownership (always spread throughout the team), trickled down and communicated at the start of every year with open budget planning.
At our annual company meetings we celebrated past events, shared lessons learned and talked about our aspirations. We presented our plans for the points we would measure against monthly in a weekend away for the company. Communicating this throughout the business was some of the best invested time we spent.
- Brave employment of only A grade players will pay dividends when the roles are clearly defined for each job that needs to be done – and when we are not afraid to make the changes in growth that require some people to step aside. A role is linked to key performance indicators and agreed with each member of the team, and this remains critical but only when also linked to career development review conversations that are directly linked to a personal reward system for excellent performance for each person.
Do not disregard the importance of the open sharing of progression made and the potential outcomes for those that are doing really well. People are attracted by being treated like professionals and communicated well and fairly.
- Cultural effort in Britain seems to be greatly displaced at times; it’s not a corporate social responsibility tick box! Creating a culture within your company takes effort, creativity and a small amount of investment but the return on this effort is priceless and will build resilience, competency, care and great future growth foundations for a grown up scale-up business with ambition, led from the top and communicated well – and repeatedly – to grow the company.
Some of my greatest memories come from putting these things together to share continual momentum and growth. The excitement of silly Easter egg hunts (for discounted Easter eggs!) and the fun created when an ice cream van arrives at the office are all good messages. Business should be fun, hard work and competitive. Never forget about the fun!
- Never, ever take your eyes off the finances. Plan ahead and keep your funders and the bank informed and you will be granted support and bandwidth to grow. Communication and attention to detail are key.
- If it’s not enjoyable, you’re not doing it right. Get management to set up and take accountability, but empower them accordingly with awareness of the whole plan. The “bigger picture” plan should be shared throughout the whole company, showing the mission and values you lead and live by.
Keep these five tips in mind, and you won’t go far wrong in your business.