“Twelve Pillars to Support Your Business Success”
Pillar Six – Progress
What we discuss in Pillar Six:
- Improve your confidence
- Learn new things
- Have a Plan
- Understand your S.W.O.T.
- Identify areas of need
- Meet new people
- Be prepared to take calculated risks: (Just do it)
- Test and Measure
- Involve your team
- Keep lists of your progress and your set-backs
- Celebrate your success
I am writing this chapter from a hotel on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. We are fortunate to have travelled extensively both for business and pleasure over the years. So here we are in Hawaii, long story but we should be at a conference in Bali and due to unfavourable volcanic activity diverted to this destination to have a break. The North Shore holds lots of allure for us, but regrettably this is a very poor hotel and it’s spoiling our break. Poor restaurants, poor services and a very poor response from management when we attempted to discuss issues. But there is a silver lining……. great fodder for this chapter.
This hotel is a great example of the leaders letting the team down, accepting that good is good enough and improvement is not necessary. Rest on your laurels and your business will die a slow, or sometimes fast, death.
The difference between just a team member and a committed team member or committed business owner is: The ordinary employee starts each day focused on the tasks to be completed that day, the committed business owner or team member starts each day with the question “what can I do today to improve and grow my business” and then they go and do it.
Apathy, arrogance, inertia, being unsure of the next step or procrastination are typical roadblocks to business growth.
So how do you overcome this trap in your business and keep moving forward?
Improve your confidence:
A major roadblock to progress in a business is simple lack of confidence. Improve your confidence by surrounding yourself with great teachers and mentors. Seek out other business owners who are a level above you and learn from them. Join a networking group of likeminded business owners. Learning from your fellow business owners can provide huge benefit. My North Shore Hotel management example would clearly benefit from spending time in a professional, well run hotel.
Learn new things:
Challenge yourself to learn new things about your industry and different industries that are emerging. Become a student in all things business, even though you may be a great builder, IT guru, Doctor or whatever, do you really know how to run your business effectively?
Borrowing great ideas from others is a tried and tested way to improve and grow your business.
Have a Plan:
The Second Pillar is planning, from your strategy plan identify the opportunities and actions that can be worked on daily, weekly and monthly. Set yourself targets to complete small chunks of your overall plan on a regular basis. Your progress will compound very quickly.
Understand your S.W.O.T :
Spend time analysing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in your business. Ask for feedback from your team, customers, suppliers and advisors, then analyse these so you can make changes.
Strengths – expand on these.
Weaknesses – improve or change.
Opportunities – work out how to leverage and take advantage of these.
Threats – are usually out of your control but should be considered as you create improvement plans.
Identify areas of need:
Turn over the rocks, listen to your team, your suppliers and your customers to identify areas that need your attention. Too often as business owners we simply ignore the warning signs. When you find an issue, do it quickly and improve it. You may not be able to fix it totally but at least make a start and improve the situation.
Meet new people:
Who are the top 10 people in your industry or other industries that you would like to meet? Identify them, call them and ask to meet with them. Coffee shops are great neutral ground and most successful people like to help others. Provided you do not become a burden you will no doubt find out something you can apply to improve your business and you may even make a new friend.
Find out what the benchmarks are for your industry and set up KPI’s in your business to either match or exceed the benchmark. Sales, profit, customers, products stocked, % of expenses, employee costs as a % to sales. The list is endless and the more you can find out the better your business will be.
Be prepared to take calculated risks: (Just do it)
By all means learn as much as you can before making key decisions but do not create an environment of “paralysis by analysis”. Too many businesses use the “I need more data” as an excuse for not acting. They miss opportunities and hold themselves back by not simply using “Just do it”. Often the worst that can happen if they “Just do it” is far less of a risk than doing nothing.
Example……. this book will not be perfect and if I did wait for it to be perfect I would never finish it and get it to the readers who may benefit.
Test and Measure:
The term “testing and measuring” is a practice that forms an essential part of understanding your business.
Why is testing important? We don’t realise it but we test everything in our daily lives. You always take a new car for a test drive before you sign on the dotted line. When you go shopping at the supermarket, sales people are standing in the aisles with samples for you to test before you buy. Waking up in the morning and checking the weather before selecting your clothing for the day is also a form of testing. See…we do it all the time…we just don’t think about it.
Yet businesses persist in embarking on expensive marketing campaigns with little or no idea of the outcome. These same businesses will spend thousands of dollars on an ad campaign and hope they get a response.
There is little point in going to the trouble of conducting a test in the first place unless you follow through with some type of analysis of the results. Imagine taking that new car out for a test drive and not paying any attention to the quality of the ride, the noise levels and the engine performance. You would instantly compare this new car to your old one or other new cars you were considering…wouldn’t you? You would have your own form of measurement to compare the car with others. Your taste is a form of measurement when you try those samples in the supermarket. If you lost your ability to taste…why bother trying the sample at all? I believe you get my point!
Now, back to our business analogy…there is no point in testing the outcome of any type of marketing campaign with no measurement of the outcome. Careful measurement and analysis of the results of a test campaign will provide much needed information on which to base decisions. The results of the measurement will quantify the success of the test campaign. The results can then be extrapolated to test the soundness of the campaign.
Example…a test mailing to 500 households yields 10 responses. Each response results in an average sale of $150 with a margin of 40% that adds $60 to the company’s profits which is $600 overall ($60 X 10 responses). Let us assume the overall cost of the mailing is $1 each or $500 in all. The company then made a net profit of $100 ($600 profit less costs of $500). This campaign appears to be a winner.
Don’t “just do it” and hope……… have a plan for a result and test if this is achieved.
Involve your team:
As a business owner or key committed team member you do not have to do everything yourself.
Involve others, your team members, your suppliers your key professional advisors such as your accountant, lawyer and business coach. I come across owners regularly who are afraid or sometimes too proud to seek assistance. This can be a huge mistake and will limit your business.
Keep lists of your progress and your set-backs:
Document everything you do to move your business forward. If your initiative worked, record the results. If it did not work, record the results. Win or lose, documenting what you have done is a key to motivating yourself to keep doing it.
I guarantee that when you look back at your wins and losses, you will be surprised at what you have achieved. Remember, if there aren’t some losses, you’re not trying. A six monthly review will most often show great progress for your business and reflect in sales and profit. That’s what it is all about…………. keep pushing, keep trying, keep reviewing for constant improvement.
The Japanese call it Kaizen, constant improvement. Read up on Kaizen, there is plenty on the web.
Celebrate your success:
This book contains a short chapter on celebrating your success and I consider this one of the Twelve Pillars to Success, Pillar 9. I am sitting on the beach in Hawaii at present in part to celebrate success.
I constantly hear the following statements from business owners proudly announcing, almost as a badge of honour –
“I’ve not had a holiday in years”
“I’m too busy for friends and family”
“I can’t play sport, what if I get hurt and can’t work”
“My wife wants a break but I’m too busy”
Or even more disturbing –
“I don’t feel that well and I’ve put on heaps of weight but the business has to come first”
and the real doozey,
“Yes, I should have the operation but it will have to wait, I’m too busy”
Why are you working so hard that you can’t enjoy your life or want to put your life in jeopardy? Plan to enjoy yourself, make the hard work worthwhile.
Read Chapter 9, The 9th Pillar very carefully.
Come to Hawaii and sit on the beach, just choose your Hotel carefully.
For more information to help make Progress and take your business to the next level.
Call Brod on 0407 487 423.
No Obligation, No Pressure.