20 years of Business Growth, here are my most Valuable Lessons
I have achieved great business success over the past 20 years however I have made thousands of mistakes along the way. I have always been ambitious and that drive has me challenging myself on a daily basis to improve and develop.
This blog outlines my most impactful learnings of the past 20 years:
Win profitable work, Execute work well, Build Client Intimacy, Continually look to Grow and Innovate
There is no way round this, it is essential that the modern business leaders have a sound financial understanding. Most organizations will have a Financial Director or CFO who has the in-depth knowledge however the Business leaders who also have a firm grasp of the financials are far better placed to unlock value, grow and deliver outstanding results.
The Sales Funnel
In the modern business world, I regularly encounter businesses and individuals who cant take a step back and see the big picture. They obsess on processes, health and safety initiatives, PowerPoint plans, Business Management Plans etc, and while I accept all of this is important, they are completely irrelevant if the business is not winning profitable work. I always spend a large portion of every day thinking in terms of the Sales Funnel. I have written a short separate Blog overview of the Funnel here
I have held many jobs early in my career where there was a distinct lack of passion, inevitably, these are the jobs where I have performed poorly by my own high standards. Passion both individually and within the business management team is the key ingredient to achieve long term growth and business success.
You will come across very clever and highly qualified individuals throughout your career, what can possibly be the issue with this, I hear you ask? The issue with this is seeing through the complex train of thought and huge strategy documents sent to you by consultants. As a business leader you need to cut through the noise and present a simple plan to your organization. Management teams and employees find it very difficult to get behind and motivate teams to achieve complicated messages. The best leaders I have worked for present simple messages, goals and objectives to the organization.
People Deliver Results
People are always an organizations most valuable asset. It amazes me that there are so many companies who fail to harness this fact, many quoting international challenges or size and complexity of the organization. The fact is, if you don't value your employees, every one of them, they will be aware and wont perform to the maximum of their ability. A culture of trust, honesty, respect and personal growth is not difficult to achieve and will result in fantastic business performance.
One rule which I like to implement is with regards to promotions, all available positions must be made to internal employees, even if the person is not fully ready for the new role. The individual is given the opportunity to grow and the organization can see this and they all now that opportunities will be there for them in the future.
Continue to invest in yourself and your employees development, demand that you work outside of your comfort zone and encourage others to do the same to obtain maximum personnel growth.
Value Creation v Value Destruction.
One very important rule I learned while attending Business School at Insead in Fontonblu in France is that every department, individual, initiative, action in a business either creates value and if it doesn't create value, it destroys value - there is no middle ground, its one or the other.
I use this concept to evaluate all departments, initiatives and direct reports. However I find the most powerful use of this tool is to evaluate yourself, not on a yearly, monthly or even weekly basis but twice a day. What value have I created for the organization this morning? if I cant comprehensively demonstrate value to myself, I have destroyed value. This is extremely powerful mindset if you can have the whole organization thinking along these line. I will regularly challenge numerous areas in the business in terms of what value do you expect to create in this department or with this task.
Risk Management and Decision Making
Almost all business leaders are risk adverse at some stage of their career, this could be driven by fear or failure, protecting what they have or on many occasions protecting personal financial incentives such as share options or bonus awards.
Don't grind your business to a halt trying to make perfect decisions. The best leaders I have worked alongside appreciate this fact and accept that they will get decisions wrong.
Being risk adverse and / or having a management team who are too safe is a significant barrier to substantial growth. Both personnel and business growth is a risky exercise, the key is understanding and managing that risk and there are many comprehensive tools in the market to assist in this process but again, going back to a point I make above, the most effective tools I have used have been simple.
leaders need to be decisive, however seeking different perspectives and opinions is a powerful lesson I learned early in my career. I have always had a clear vision on how tasks should be executed or goals achieved, but rarely is my initial vision the most efficient way forward. Encourage a culture of challenging each other and voicing opinions to achieve the best results. I was once told by my boss on the first day at a new job “if we both think the same, the business doesn’t need both of us”, this has stuck with me for a long time.
Continual Improvement and Innovation
Since 2000, an unbelievable 52% of fortune 500 companies have gone bankrupt, been acquired or failed to exist completely. Infact the average lifespan of a fortune 500 company has gone from 60 years in 1958 to 19 years in 2012. we need look no further than UBER and Airbnb for recent examples of new technology impacting the strong Taxi and Hotel markets.
My message again is simple, focus on continual improvement and innovation or die. may organizations look for quick fixes to get through the short term. Stop taking pain killers for short term relief, find the route cause of the issues and rectify permanently
The Importance if Perception
A persons perception is their truth, regardless of whether its true or not. That makes a persons perception more important than the truth.
In a 2005 experiment, 1000 individuals were asked to rate 4 clothing irons:
Low cost, white box, cost $19.99
White box with color text, stickers on the unit $39.99
Branded Box, Branded Unit, $59,99
Premium Box and Premium Branding on the unit $89,99
87% of participants stated that No. 4 performed "Substantially better" than all other units, despite the units being technically identical.
I intend to write further blogs which expand on the points above and also add new lessons.
Please share this content using the link below.