More often than not with these articles, I’m talking about my approach to doing business, and what I’ve implemented that has worked - and failed - at Best Practice. Today, however, we’re going to be doing a bit of analysis on a piece published on Entrepreneur, from Rob Finklestein, author of “Fourteen Ways to a Successful Company.” If you’ve kept an eye on our blog, you would have noticed that we’ve covered the majority of these pillars of business in long-length articles which I encourage you to check out. I think it’s important to take the views and insights from other business figures into account when we’re tossing up what works in business, so, for now, let’s jump into Finklestein’s list and talk about how and why these are at the core of every successful organisation’s results.
You can’t have a great organisation without a vibrant culture driving the results and the motivation of the employees inside. There’s a number of things to consider when it comes to culture, namely how easily your organisation can attract the best and brightest candidates that gravitate toward your organisation rather than the competition when you’re hiring, as well as the morale and productivity of employees in the organisation today. The majority of the points we’re about to cover come back to the concept of culture in one way or another, so don’t dismiss the importance of culture as the absolute bedrock of successful organisations.
While this is a fairly basic observation, it still surprises me just how many people disregard the importance of customer service to ensure that customers keep returning to your organisation and pass on the positive feedback to their friends and colleagues; it’s the most powerful form of marketing, after all. Attention to customer service should remain in your business plan and mission statement, regardless of your operations, and organisations that pay keen attention to the customer’s journey and exercise empathy in their communication with customers are almost certainly set to benefit from more returning transactions.
Again, we’re circling back to culture here in one way or another… Finklestein notes that “without exception, the most successful business owners understand that it’s all about people: hiring and retaining the right people, eliminating ineffective people and providing the necessary resources for employees to master their tasks.” I believe that the most effective attitude to have in business is to be empathetic to staff and customers, and to work with a positive attitude that welcomes challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles. The high-paced and stressful world of business can take a toll on the psyche of a leader, however, so often some organisations will start to suffer in this regard because they’re not being managed effectively. A good leader excites those around them, and can get a team engaged on the project at hand, while helping them realise how their efforts contribute to the organisation as a whole, which in turn keeps them motivated as they can see the results of their hard work.
An effective business plan is, of course, a prerequisite for success. The length of that plan, however, is something that people tend to get wrong. As Finklestein explains, “a simple one-page document will do, but it should be well thought-out and well executed. A poorly crafted business plan that’s well executed is far superior to the well-crafted business plan that sits on the shelf collecting dust.” From experience, I think people tend to put too much effort into the creation of the business plan and not enough time on the implementation; what’s the point in putting all those hours in if no one understands or is made aware of the plan… take the less is more approach to your business strategy, and remember to keep it focussed on your organisation’s why and the considerations of your most important stakeholders: your customers and your staff.
This is a concept that is often conflated with punishment. Discipline doesn’t mean you’re hard on your people- particularly if you’re the leader of the organisation. It means that you’re sticking to the bedrock of your business plan’s outline, and that your management team remains engaged in the process of looking for areas of improvement. The author mentions that “it’s all about staying focussed on your core markets and measuring success as defined in your business strategy,” and this means that your organisation can stay attentive to the most important aspects and how you intended to measure success in your vision statement and business outline.
The fight vs flight analogy applies to organisations, too- more so at times than any individual context. Some of the most successful leaders of organisations were those that weren’t afraid to take calculated - and uncalculated - risks with clear outcomes in mind, however. “Most owners who take risks,” Finklestein explains, “do so because they recognize the need to change as the economic climate changes, and they understand it’s disastrous not to embrace change.” The author notes that through his experience, he’s seen that organisations that can first recognise the need to change are often the ones that are rewarded with new customers and added profits. Stuck-in-the-mud types often stay right there, while their competition walks over the horizon.
Of course, we can’t be having this conversation without a mention of effective financial management, which also ties into both culture and discipline in the organisation. “A financial plan reminds owners where and how to spend money, and it provides ways to measure progress or shortfalls. A sound financial plan is the cornerstone of a great business plan,” Finklestein writes. I think it’s also worth noting that while there’s always unexpected surprises as you go about your operations, having a robust financial plan will help accommodate these expenses, as well as give you the confidence of knowing the exact state of your finances as you move into the future.
Keep an eye out on our blog as we explore part two of the 14 habits of highly effective organisations here on the blog.