Having been in business myself now for almost 30 years I have seen the common traits of those business people who are successful and those who aren’t.
It isn’t about having an extraordinary new idea which no one has thought about or tapping into new markets, although this is great if you can. It is more about doing the right things and doing them well:
- Being focused.
- Planning for the future.
- Being responsive.
- Taking action.
- Having high standards.
- Building a great team.
- Actively seeking feedback.
Here’s a simple example. You want to start a cleaning business.
What does your business do?
A simple question but one which too many business owners fail to grasp. Do you clean carpets, clean ovens, clean windows, clean for commercial clients or private clients or both? Do you simply clean absolutely anything and everything?
Being focused and identifying your exact service and your ideal client means you buy only the right equipment for your target market, you can focus and go deep on your marketing, you can build expertise and standards of service specific to your target market.
Do you plan for the future?
This can be as complicated as devising a long term strategic plan to a simple budget for the next 12 months. What are your goals and what actions do you need to take in order to achieve those goals? Setting out your vision and a simple budget will provide clarity of where you are going, the steps you need to take and by when in order to achieve your goals.
Do you respond promptly?
When a new or existing client phones or emails do you have a system to ensure you respond within a couple of hours or at least within 24 hours? It beggars belief how much new business is passed over. Whatever your situation is it is at least worth finding out what the job involves and who the potential customer is. If it is too small then respectfully turn the job down or better still recommend a competitor. If the work sounds interesting find out if the work is urgent. You may be very busy but you may also have a week available in two months’ time and the customer might be prepared to wait, particularly if they know you are good and in high demand. And who knows, that customer could potentially feed you lots of profitable work!
If you are quoting or you receive customer queries you should again respond promptly. This is the basis of great customer service. When you are the buyer how does it feel when someone fails to respond to your queries?
Do you take action?
To run a successful business you need an infinite amount of energy. Action is key. If you have a team then the action will be primarily to look at ways to grow your business. For small business owners (particularly if you have a small start-up) then you need to make sure your work week is well planned out:
- Make sure your customers know when you are going to arrive.
- Order your equipment and materials in advance.
- Carry out your work efficiently.
- Just as importantly you then need to invoice for the work!!!! Sounds silly but so many business owners bill once a month or even longer after the event. What’s the best time to invoice? Immediately after the work is done and when the customer is smiling at the quality of your work why not ask for a recommendation- e.g. checkatrade or trustpilot etc….
Also make sure you devote time to working on your business. Aim to spend a minimum of two hours per week (ideally substantially more) focusing on the three key actions you need to take right now to move your business forwards and to achieve the goals you have set. Whether it is developing a new service, writing up systems, doing a job advert or marketing – just two hours spent each week will catapult your business to the next level. This is a lesson the vast majority of business owners fail to grasp.
Do you have high standards?
Most businesses operate in highly competitive areas and yet despite this there are builders, service businesses and retailers all making great profits because they have high standards for their work and customer service, which means they continually get great feedback from customers, repeat business and recommendations. Don’t be the business owner spending his time dodging disgruntled clients!
Do you have a great team?
Most business owners start off on their own. But if they are good they will quickly find that to scale up they will need to build a great team. You simply can’t do everything yourself! This is arguably the trickiest part for business owners. However it is worthwhile taking time to build the right team and building a culture around which your whole team will operate. To do this you need to decide what the core values should be for your team. Ours are pride in your work, being customer focused, being open and honest and self development- always looking to improve and learn.
Building a great team takes time so be prepared for setbacks and don’t be in a hurry to find staff. Getting the right people in the right seats is paramount. It is also vitally important that you build trust within your team and have open and honest conversations about what you expect from them and how each of you should behave. Check out our five top tips for 2021 on how to build a great team.
Do you seek out feedback?
Leadership expert Ken Blanchard coined the phrase, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Feedback is not just great for marketing but it is also a key element in maintaining standards and unearthing new opportunities. Ask questions such as ‘What could I do better?’ and ‘Is there something else you would like my help with?’ These questions will then lead full circle back to what you do and to your goals.
A great cleaning business would focus on specific areas of cleaning. The business owner would go deep with their marketing and answer the questions their ideal clients will want answering. When calls come they would respond promptly. They would plan their work and take the necessary actions to provide a quality service. They would at the same time court feedback and plan ahead to make their business even better and to ultimately achieve their goals.
To build a great business you don’t need to have a unique idea for a product or service, you don’t need the latest technology and you don’t necessarily need a fortune to set up your business. The fact is by doing the simple things well you are probably going to be better than most of your competitors!!!!
Whether you are a client or not if you need help in building your business then why not talk to Mark Friend, Andrew Grant or to your account manager.
The content in this blog is correct as at 07/06/2021. See terms and conditions.