A successful business person is often headstrong, brave and diligent. Conversely in business, however, we must also recognize that no one has all the answers and learning from others’ experiences is vital to our own development.
The Harvard Business Review published a report outlining the 5 stages of small business growth. In the report, Churchill and Lewis claim that understanding the current progression of a business facilitates logical and effective strategizing. Although it’s now over 30 years old, this definitive article is often referenced today as a useful framework for defining and managing Small Medium Enterprise (SME) growth. Every business is unique and will therefore face different challenges; however there are many typical stages which largely relate to the vast majority of SME’s. The comprehension of this structure can prove to be beneficial to business owners, allowing them to calculate both risk and sensible investment.
The vast majority of the work for a start-up is carried out by its owner, although there may be one or two employees on a small staff helping out. It is imperative at this stage to gain and maintain a customer base, as many companies fail before they even have a tangible revenue stream. It is likely that there will be some start-up capital in place, but this can quickly run out. Many businesses also invest in the foundations of a long term strategy, before they have taken their first steps, which can be ultimately fatal. For example, I have seen a few small freight/shipping start-ups who invest in IT systems, resources and staff before they even have a client base to justify their outlay.
I graduated with a degree in accounting so I had to take a lot of business classes in college. Sadly, very little of what I learned in class helped prepare me for business life. I did learn the basics in college but I really got educated at the School of Hard Knocks. The tuition was high but well worth the cost. Here are the 5 most important lessons I ever learned that helped me grow a successful business.
1) Stop Thinking About Myself
In order to be successful, a business has to have clients or customers. People become clients when they believe you can help them get what’s important to them.They don’t care about the business owner’s problems or fears.
When I first started my business I made plenty of mistakes that almost sank me. I was steeped in fear. I was in debt, my income was meager and I had a young family to provide for. I didn’t consciously share my angst with clients but I’m sure they could sense it because it was all I ever thought about. I saw potential clients as potential solutions to my problems and that made it far more difficult to grow my business. Who wants to hire someone like that?
You’ve probably know what you should do to make your business a success but do you know what you shouldn’t do? No one wants their business to fail or fall into financial difficulty so it’s important to ensure you avoid the traps before it’s too late. Following the five pointers below is a sure-fire way to put your company out of business.
1. Never change
If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘change’, then you’re heading for trouble. With technology and consumer markets changing all the time, it’s crucial to keep up so you know exactly what your target market wants. This helps you stay one step ahead of competitors and ensures you plan for the future. Stay focused by keeping in mind business goals and strategies to ensure your business evolves. Ever heard of that saying, ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’?
Don’t forget to regularly update the company’s website, blogs, social media channels and overall design. If your website still looks like it did in 1999, then to many visitors, it will look outdated and off-putting, regardless of how great your products or services are.
Image credit courtesy of Athens Chen, designer at DigitalThirdCoast.net
Attracting and retaining key employees is essential to the success of an organization. When employees are working for organizations that give back, their sense of pride, trust and commitment strengthens. When employees feel valued and appreciated their dedication is enhanced with a wonderful influx of motivation which contributes to the vitality of the organization.
Here are 6 ways that businesses can invest in good employees.
1. Helping employees earn graduate degrees and MBAs
Olivet Nazarene University in Chicago offers a program where they will come to your office to fulfill certain program requirements onsite. “Our model is to offer our programs in a variety of settings that essentially take Olivet to the student. We partner with over 20 hospitals and numerous school districts to offer our nursing and education programs onsite at those locations. In addition to our offices in Bourbonnais, Oak Brook, and Rolling Meadows, we have classes running over 100 different locations in Chicagoland and throughout Illinois.”
I know from working with more than 4,000 new entrepreneurs over the past twenty-five years that when they come to us they all want to “be in business, not planning to be business”. There is an understandable impatience shown.
I know firsthand from planning my own three business launches the critical importance of step by step business planning, but I also know that few prospective entrepreneurs will take the time to complete a full-blown business school style business plan.
So, my team of coaches and I have reduced the business start-up process to just eight steps in our Start Your Business NOW! Start-Up School.
Improving and building team spirit is an essential part of business growth, more so for small enterprises. The main challenge to a business leader is to encourage the team members to bond, readily share relevant information and work together towards pushing the business brand forward. Small enterprises mostly do not have resources at their disposal to cover employee redundancy, therefore employees should be aptly encouraged to work together and market the company. The employees should readily engage in promoting and sharing of the company’s vision and mission.