Business is tough. Just watching TV shows like the BBC’s ‘Dragons Den’ shows that whether pitching an idea or an established business, numbers count and knowing your market matters. Even the Dragons themselves, or other leading business figures, have got it wrong. The difference though, is that they have also got it very right and have built successful companies (mainly from scratch).
So how do you build a successful business? There are lots of business articles that give different pieces of advice on how to go about turning your company into the next big thing, so we’ve pulled together a few of the best tips and hints which will hopefully help give you a push in the right direction.
- Business development is not just about sales. It’s about identifying and creating business relationships that drive revenue, but also increase usage of your product or service. Don’t get get weighed down by figures alone; yes target is important, but it’s also about ensuring that the prospective customer converts feeling that their needs have been listened to and you have provided a suitable solution.
- Post deal management is key. The reason why you sold is because of an effective sales process, which is built upon accountability and proactive management. Having a strong account manager and/or team can make all the difference when it comes to retaining customers long term, which is why having the right incentives in place ensures that you maintain consistency within the account management team, as well as the service delivered to customers.
- Establish a framework for assessing opportunity. To ensure that you maintain support from your business development team, it’s about understanding why the deal makes sense for your company – does it drive revenue, lead to new users or enable you to enter a new market or vertical? By setting clear and measurable goals, it’s then easier to address issues such as why business development are converting below projections.
- Make sure you take action. Don’t forget about your business plan. It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations or put your plan in a drawer, but by ensuring that you’re in a position to assess your progress at key points – quarterly, six month, year end – to see if you’ve reached your set goals. If not, you can create an action plan and set deadlines to accomplish them.
- Could your website do with a makeover? Does your current site still reflect what you do? If there is outdated information on there or a product or service no longer available is still listed, this will affect how potential customers view your business. Ensure that your website is able to be viewed on mobile and tablet devices so that your product or service can be accessed on the move, as well as office based.
- Take charge of your finances. If you’re not already credit checking, then this is definitely something you need to consider to ensure the continued success of your business. By using company credit reports, you can evaluate the credit status of your existing customers and those you’re approaching for new business. The reports help you to make more informed business decisions when it comes to extending credit. Also, by identifying where payment issues may arise amongst your customer base, you can ensure that your budgeting and forecasting reflect this information.
- Celebrate your successes. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, it’s important to take the time to celebrate when you, your staff and business achieve set goals. Taking time out away from the office to recognise strong results will re-energise you and your team for the next challenge.
- Make yourself an expert. You are as crucial a part of your business as the idea which started it; so you need to turn yourself into an expert within your chosen industry. Speak at relevant events, write a business blog and give advice to related groups on LinkedIn. It’s about becoming the hub of your network so that when someone Googles your industry, your name comes up first. It’s a chance to PR your business and also show credibility.
- Build a strong company culture. It’s about creating an identity which is uniquely yours and something all your employees can associate with. Think of your company culture as a football team: your business should have a common cause, a common goal and should know its competition. The culture you create – whether it’s a wellbeing day or drinks at the same pub every Friday – has a direct effect on the marketplace, because your staff remain engaged with your business’ journey.
- Do you employ expanders or containers? There are two kinds of people in business – expanders and containers – and learning to separate them into the right category can save you time when it comes to findinig the right balance of employees. ‘Expanders’ like to push the boundary, take risks and make new friends, whilst ‘Containers’ like to keep things in order and stay on top of the details (inenvitably keeping your business safe from losing money). However, it’s not about employing one or the other, but instead finding the right blend of both to have a positive impact on your business.
- Understand the risks and rewards. The key to being succesful in business is being able to take calculated risks. A good question to ask yourself is “What’s the downside?”, if you can answer this question then you know what the worst case scenario is. This is where using company credit reports and monitoring services can help inform these risk calculations further, and will pay dividends when you’re able to avoid making a detrimental business move or investment with the company.
Being successful in business doesn’t happen overnight but with the right tools in place, you can make a start and see where the future takes you.