These are my keys to building a winning business that I have observed in over 25 years with large international businesses, seven years assisting small and medium businesses and three years as the CEO of a local SME. I do not subscribe to the easy answers that are presented as the “Seven Key’s to Business Success” or “The Twelve Steps to Leadership” or maybe “How to spend all day at the Beach in three months” you know the one’s I mean you have all seen these come across your screen with predictable regularity promising instant success and fortune.

In my experience creating a sustainable, growth focused and profitable business requires determination, dedication, learning and good old hard work. The business owners I meet certainly don’t mind the hard work however they are often working hard on the wrong things. So let me share with you those things that I believe you should work on to achieve success in your business.

Believe in yourself.
Work at understanding that you can achieve what you have set out to do. Be confident without being arrogant, quietly get on with achieving your goals knowing that it is possible. Being humble yet confident is a wonderful trait of any business owner.

Know what you REALLY want.
Not everyone wants to build a huge business. If you just want to provide for yourself and your family that’s OK, if you don’t want the stress and the long hours run your business accordingly. Following other peoples goals is usually a receipt for failure. If you want to build it big then go after that. Whatever you want be clear and go after it.

Know where you are headed.
Once you have decided what you want focus on it. If you want the most sort after business in your industry in the Sutherland Shire then focus on that and go after it with all your energy.

Fuel your desire.
The best fuel I know is knowledge learn, learn and learn some more. We live in an era of the global brain any of us can learn from hundreds of sources right at our fingertips all you need is a login….fantastic isn’t it. As the saying goes “Work harder on yourself than you do on your business” Jim Rohn.

Set your goals.
One of my favourite questions to clients is “When we are sitting here in 12 months reviewing the business what achievements will make you happy” To achieve “what will make you happy” you need to set goals and have a plan – 12 month, 3 months, weekly and daily. Each daily goal, will help achieve your quarterly goals and each quarterly contributes to your 12 month goal and so on. Stay focused on what you are looking to achieve and make time to work on your goals away from the day to day tasks in your business. Great business owners get up each day thinking “what can I do today to grow my business” if you have goals and a plan you will be better able to answer that question. Review your plan and your goals every day.

Manage your time.
I hear constantly that business owners don’t have enough time. Typically that is because that are working on the wrong things or will not invest in help plus they often don’t have goals and a plan. I’m asked for a systems “to manage my time better” and while there are systems out there they are worthless without three things, discipline to focus on the right things, the ability to say no to the time robbers and system that you like and will follow. Plan your days every day try to leave nothing to chance and plan for the interruptions.

Know your numbers.
Business is numbers. At the end of the day it is about sales and profit, if you don’t know the numbers you will simply don’t know if you are being successful. Unfortunately this applies to many, many business where the owner and the key team members do not have a grasp on the financial condition of their business. Don’t leave it to your accountant (although you must have a good proactive accountant) you must know your own numbers, every day.

Know what drives your business.
We all look at sales and profit but these are not the drivers they are the result. Know your number of prospects, your conversion rate to customers, average $$ sale, transaction numbers, gross profit on sales these drive sales and profit. Additionally work on having a strong pricing policy and understand what happens when you discount. If you do discount understand why you are doing it, it is rarely about producing more profit. Key Performance Indicators are critical to every business.

Create your Niche.
Whatever industry you are in as an SME it is highly unlikely that you can compete on price therefore you have to be different and really good at consistently delivering your product or service. When you have a clear Unique Selling Position you are no longer competing directly with everybody else in your space.

Deliver fanatical customer service every time.
As an SME how you look after your customer/clients is critical to your success and typically we all think our service is exceptional. Is it really, when was the last time you checked, when was the last time you spoke to your customers to find out what they think? Double check your service constantly.

Understand Leverage.
You can leverage your business, doing more with less, by systems and processes correctly documented, with well-trained competent team members, using appropriate technology and using money and good financing. When leverage is correctly in place something else also happens, your business in more valuable and more saleable.

Understand marketing and don’t stop marketing. Marketing is a very misused term, it is not only glossy brochures and a slick website. It is everything you do in your business and how this comes together to provide an experience for your target customer. The minute you stop marketing correctly to your target is usually when customers stop coming to your business. Marketing should also be an investment, it can be if you understand some more numbers, cost to acquire and life time value plus when you begin to test and measure your marketing efforts. When you know these stats marketing starts to make a lot more sense.

Learn to be a leader.
The way your business delivers it’s goods or services will be a direct reflection of you and your values. Leadership is about setting your Vision and enrolling and inspiring your team to achieve it with you. Great leaders build great teams and great teams build fantastic companies.

Create a winning team.
As the leader of your business it is up to you to build the best possible team. Unfortunately many SME’s hold themselves back by having inappropriate team members, this is often made worse by their inability to help the team member be successful or to help them be successful elsewhere. Correct recruitment, induction, training, honest regular appraisals and encouragement plus the ability to make the tough decision are critical to a winning team and business. Great leaders invest time and energy into building great team.

Track your personal best.
You don’t hear top athletes talking about “I just beat my average time” they don’t want to beat their average that want to beat their best. Likewise with your business if you focus on beating your PB not just last year or last week you will be surprised how your mindset changes and your business growth.

I hope that you have found value in my comments. There are no easy quick fixes in running a successful business however if you spend your time focused on those things that will add the most value you will certainly achieve your goals much faster and make more profit.

Let me leave you with a question “What is the purpose of business?” answer “To buy profitable customers. The lower the cost of buying customers and the more profitable customers you can buy the more profitable your business will be”
Brod Ivory is the owner of Altitude Business Development he and his team operate from Caringbah. Altitude has assisted small and medium business since 2008.


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