Success is about dedication. You may not be where you want to be or do what you want to do when you’re on the journey. But you’ve got to be willing to have vision and foresight that leads you to an incredible end.
Whether you’re a start-up, or an established business, you are on a heroic journey and to be applauded. According to Forbes and Fortune magazines, between 75% and 90% of companies fail, and the top five reasons were:
- No market need
- Ran out of Cash
- Not the right team
- Got out competed
- Pricing / cost issues
Let’s turn these factors on their heads and look at how companies grow and thrive, despite the hurdles and pitfalls business owners face on their journey. For a bit of inspiration, here’s a few examples of traditional and new technology companies who were started by individuals and have grown to be successful mega corporations:
- LendLease – construction
- Microsoft – software
- Westfield – shopping centres
- HP – printers
- McGrath – real estate sales
- Atlassian – software
Most business owners are happy to build their businesses to be somewhat smaller companies, which is fine, because they are still successful and hopefully happy with their outcomes.
What are the key ingredients for success as this journey starts and unfolds?
- Homework – research your market and think about what resources you need on this journey. This is a question which keeps bobbing up even when a business is established, and the answer to why is simple – the business environment is constantly changing;
- Have as much resources as possible available at all times – people and capital;
- Have the right people, systems and processes so that you can outcompete other companies, even with “generic” products and services;
- Understand your customers always and develop relationships. Business success invariably is about people and your ability to have close working relationships with your customers, suppliers and staff;
- All those good personal qualities – open minded to new knowledge and surrounding yourself with good talented people, resilience, persistence, flexibility and adaptability are some of the key requirements.
Imagine that you are going on a long road trip. Business is like that every day. You always have a plan, which often needs changing. It could be new products, new customers, different suppliers and of course your staff, or the government, or international factors.
Can I keep it simple?
Business is simply about buying and selling, whether it’s products or services, and yes, even in the not for profit sector.
The task is to attract buyers – that’s marketing and sales. Think of the peacock in nature – that is marketing – working to attract a mate. And even when you attract attention, your people skills come to the fore and you convert the interest into a sale and even to repeat sales.
So what’s difficult about business?
Your business environment is affected by different factors as time goes by:
- Competitors – competing with better products, services and prices
- New products making your product unwanted – that’s technology and innovation for you
- Government regulations change impacting on customers, competitors and even your business, e.g. interest rates, global tariffs, etc.
- Staff changes
These changes can have negative impacts on your business and therefore your ability to adapt and change quickly is a critical capability to always have in your business.
At a people level and using the principles of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), a good business owner normally sees opportunity in adversity. This is a great asset or capability to have – being able to see and read the situation facing your business and continually seeing value add options which your business can deliver to the market place.
- Always look after and develop your people so that they can be engaged and look after your customers every day – a culture of true customer focus.
- Let go, so that your best people can take on more tasks and responsibilities as time goes by, which means that you can focus on other important areas including spending more time with your family, friends or other interests.
- Always be conscious of where your exit point will be. Just like driving down a motorway, know where and when to get off the road. Of course, you may change your mind as to which exit point you want to take. This is one of the benefits of being your own master!
- Engage help. As your business grows bigger, then engage people into key positions. Otherwise, you will be a one-man band, increasingly carrying a bigger load and it all becomes counterproductive.
- Enjoy the journey! Well, most of it, especially the sunny days, because the stormy days will test your stamina and nerve.