With economic recovery in sight, many businesses still face an uncertain future. But is the key to survival responding to events ‘ or preparing for them?
To run a successful business, you need to prepare for challenges. Otherwise, you’ll spend all your time focusing on tactical responses and lose track of your end goal. But how can you prepare for the unexpected when, by definition, you don’t know what it will be?
For me, the underpinning principle of growing a business is to get the fundamentals right. Having grown organisations in many countries, I’ve learned that the real challenge is in embedding those principals into the business and building a long-term strategy ‘ not in responding tactically to short-term problems.
The pillars for growing a successful business will vary for different business models and sectors ‘ but for most companies they are good products, good operational delivery, and credibility. These three pillars stand on three foundations: people, culture, and technology.
Why? Because you need the right people and technology to create good products, and you need the right people, and the right culture, to ensure good delivery. Get these fundamentals right and you’ll be able to rapidly evolve your products and delivery model to meet whatever challenges come your way.
The best way to maintain company culture is to invest in the staff that you have. Give them scope to develop, provide the opportunity for career progression and, of course, pay and reward them well. Do all these things and they will stay with you, absorbing your company culture and passing it on to new recruits. It’s also important to have a clear sense of purpose that everyone can buy into. Define your mission statement in a way staff can understand and you’ll give them the knowledge and satisfaction that they’re doing important work.
You should also hire people that fit in with the company culture and get what you’re doing from day one. For example, what type of salespeople are you looking for? If you’re looking for rapid growth, you might want people who are highly focused and driven by commission. But, if you’re more concerned with building up long-term business relationships, you might want people that are focused on finding a product that perfectly matches the client’s needs.
Your employees support another important pillar: credibility. Without credibility, you’re never going to grow your business, however good your products and service delivery are. Recruit good people, retain them, and train them to become experts in your field, and you’ll have the all-important credibility you need.
With the right mix of people and culture, you’ll have two important pillars in place: credibility and good operational delivery. To add the third pillar, good product, you simply need the right technology. That will of course vary widely from business to business ‘ but if you’re in the tech sector, you should certainly consider cloud-based solutions, as these allow you to react quickly to changing circumstances. Whatever business you’re in, you need technology that gives you the flexibility to always deliver the right products at the right time for your customers.
The key to growing your business in changing times, then, is to have a long-term strategy rather than relying on short-term tactical responses. Build on the three pillars of good products, good operational delivery, and credibility, and you’ll have a solid recipe for success.