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What Successful Businesses Do To Be Successful

Aug 17, 2007
How does a small company become successful? It is such a provocative question that it prompted me to do some research. Despite the bad news we so often hear about businesses closing or moving, I found some encouraging news. After interviewing and working with many small companies, common trends began to emerge regarding what they did to be successful. There are a total of fourteen principles and the successful companies implement most, of not all of these principles: attitude, sales, business strategy, marketing, information technology, risk taking, process improvement, company culture, work-life balance, customer service, finance and budget, general advice, discipline and training.

Culture: Culture is defined as the "integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief and behavior that depends upon man's capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations."

Culture is about attracting and hiring people who would be successful in the organization. It is about driving the behavior that makes the company successful.

Customer Service: Simplified defined, customer service is about taking care of the customers. Many companies integrate customer service into their culture through training and the design (and frequent redesign) of relevant business processes. In most cases, the business plan dictates how they provide customer service.

Attitude: You must have a positive attitude and accept 100 percent of the responsibility for the results of the business. When responsibility is accepted, action can be taken to make the necessary changes to accomplish the desired results. Then, when success is achieved, you are generous in giving credit to others within the organization. Without exception, the most successful business owners understand it is all about people: hiring and retaining the right people, eliminating ineffective people and providing the necessary resources for employees to master their tasks.

Business Strategy: A large complex strategy or business plan is not necessary. A simple one-page document will do, but it should be well thought out and well executed. A poorly crafted business plan that is well executed is far superior to a well-crafted business plan the sits on the shelf. It defines and drives the activities and behaviors of the entire organization. Without it, the business becomes a ship without a rudder; it simply can not be steered and goes in circles. A strategy should include a financial plan, marketing differentiators, and product strategy as well as employee retention.

Discipline: Discipline, or "staying the course," then executing the strategy. Discipline is not overreacting to market changes, staying focused on your core markets and measuring success as defined in the strategy

Risk: Business owners are not afraid to take calculated risks with clear outcomes in mind. Most owners who take risk do so because they realize the need to change as the economic climates changes. Each knows it is disastrous not to embrace change.

Successful business leaders understand that being in business is about managing and responding to change. Companies that succeed embrace change and respond to challenges presented by the market, the competition or changes in general business conditions.

Financial Roadmap: An important attribute is the creation of a financial roadmap and budget and having the discipline to follow it. This plan reminds owners where and how to spend money, and it provides ways to measure progress or shortfalls. Finance is the cornerstone of good business plans.

Business Processes: Another frequently mentioned attribute of success is the streamlining of business processes. We call this creating predictability. This is probably the least understood attribute by small business owners. The intention here is to increase productivity and reduce costs while getting the same (or better) outcomes. Business processes are how things are done within a business. Every company has some processes; some are clearly defined, others are implicit. Successful businesses understood the need to continuously improve its business processes: to become more efficient and productive, and to respond to market changes faster while providing better service to customers.

Information Technology: technology is important, it is apparent that technology does not have to be complex or costly to be effective. Technology is probably the most important enabler for change that a company can introduce.

Marketing: Effective marketing performs different functions around unique selling environments. For example, business-to-consumer enterprises have completely different marketing needs than business-to-business companies. Having a good understanding of the pains your clients are experiencing and how your product and services stop that pain is critical to business success.

Sales: Every company's approach to sales is different. Some depend on building referral partnerships and strategic alliances, and this is the extent of their sales process. Others aggressively attack the market with direct mail campaigns, cold calls and other forms of direct customer contact. The specific selling approach is usually defined by the marketing plan. Successful owners know that the concept of selling is a process that can be measured and improved, like all business processes. They talk about the importance of having a consistent, measurable and repeatable sales process, and they engage professional sales trainers (with flexibility to customize training to their selling environment) to help create consistency within their selling process.

Training can be defined as "to form by instruction, discipline, or drill and to teach to make fit, qualified, or proficient." Because we live in world of continuous change, it is more important than ever to implement a culture of continuous learning. For many successful owners, continual investment in training is a major attribute identified. For training to be successful there must a direct link back to the business plan and an understanding of how training supports the successful implementation of the business strategy.

General Advice: Without exception, every business owner talked about how having trusted advisors is necessary for success. They know that they cannot know everything and searched out advisors they could trust. They preferred to pay for this advice because they were looking for someone who would challenge them, how them accountable, ask them important questions and introduce them to others when necessary.

There are three principles that every company needs to follow. If they follow these three principles they are forced to address the others: the business owner exhibited a positive attitude, the business created and implemented a sound business strategy and they had the discipline to they focused on the strategy.
About the Author
Learn more in Finklestein's book Celebrating Success! Fourteen Ways to a Successful Company sold online at http://www.amazon.com
Ron Finklestein
Phone: 330-990-0788
E-mail: info@yourbusinesscoach.net.
Web site: http://www.yourbusinesscoach.net
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