Today I am going to be writing about how to build a great business. As we all know a lot of things in life are simple but not quite easy to do and this is one of them. Building a great business really has its foundations on 5 key area. These 5 strategies if adopted, measured, managed with consistent improvements can deliver great results. But we all know that in practise it does not quite work out like that and it is a mean feat to work on your business as well as in it.
The first one which is also the most important one and as Steve Covey writes in his bestseller “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” – We should begin with the end in mind – so for those of us on this business journey we need to start with the end in mind which means that you must have a vision of how we want our business to turn out, you must know why you want to build this particular type of business. Your vision must be so clear that when you close your eyes you can see it vividly ahead of you. You need to create a picture of what you want your business to look like in the future. It could be 5/10 years ahead – it would include measurable goals like how big you want the company to be in terms of turnover, number of customers and staff, number of branches and range of products/services and prices. How well known would your company be? What would your customers say about your business.
The next strategy is about the people that build the business with you. If you are building, great business collaborations are necessary. As the African proverb says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go with others. Think of the great companies we know the Mark Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook with four others. Apple was founded by Steve Jobs and 2 others. You get the picture now. The next important bunch of people are your early staff. At this stage its easy to employ just about anyone due to lack of funds or and perhaps the lack of human resource knowledge and skills. Adopt the principle ‘Hire slow, fire fast’ when taking on new staff. It is better to hire the right personality and train for skills. Whatever you do, do not fall into the trap of hiring fast and firing slow this will damage your company. Get people on board who see your vision and can see you through the early challenging but exciting times.
Your competitors are also ones to watch, no matter what type of company you are creating there will be people on a similar path or you may have decided to come in and do it better than the competition. Virgin Atlantic went head to head with BA when it launched its international flights and they now command higher prices than BA on most of their shared routes. Always keep and eye on the competition and with the internet its much easier. Do not become a complacent leader like Blackberry. The competition never sleeps, so why should you?
The fourth is F word in Business – Finance. Cash is king and that is gospel! You must have your handle on the cash. This includes cash needed to start up, the working capital as well as other injections of cash that will be needed at during the early stages of every great business. If figures are alien to you, hire an accountant and ask for regular cash-flow statements and reports. Your bank balance is not a true reflection of you financial position.
The final strategy that is also key are your customers services strategy. I am assuming that you do have customers for your products and services, so I will be concentrating on getting more of them as well as keeping the ones that you do have. Find out who your customers are, why your customers buy from you, when they buy from you. Never assume that you know what your customers want – always ask them and those times that you do not get it right, and they tell you. Embrace their complaints and see it as valuable feedback that can help you improve your relationship with the customers. At least they took the time to complain to you, they could be switching to your competitor instead.
As the saying goes – You do not have to be great to start but you must start to be great – Zig Ziglar.