So your a frantically busy entrepreneur, working tirelessly to drive the business forward, with a great mission, a great team and some real core values that you have all bought into and uphold.
You’ve already spent considerable time considering the 8 Segments within every business and the impact each one of these is having on the other. Ensuring they work seamlessly together to drive the business towards the BFHAG you have set as your SUCCESS SUMMIT!
But it’s not working!
Something has put the anchor in and slowing the progress you were making. Something, somewhere is heeding your progress and risking your goals and deadlines already set and agreed!
I see it SO many times, where the business is so OUTWARD facing, with new campaigns attracting new enquiries, and sales teams working frantically to close sales, welcoming another new happy customer into the business. That we simply forget that having already established the ABC’s in business, they simply move onto the DE & F’s without realising you have to maintain the standards within the ABC’s not just when your working on them but constantly!
Let me quickly share with you a REAL LIVE scenario that is happening RIGHT NOW (at the time of writing) within our own business!
Before I even launched My TrueNORTH, I sat for a few days with the proposed business plan, looking at each and every aspect of the business I was about to launch. I’d had the time to look at, consider, review each and every aspect and spent the time and consideration to determine HOW this was all going to piece together. (I appreciate for some, they may not have had this luxury of time)
However, in the military there is a great term:
Time spent in reconnaissance is ever rarely wasted
I’d set about to write out a structured business plan, including our long term mission (BFHAG – Big Fat Hairy Audacious Goal) and looked at the values and culture I wanted to create both within the business and the community we were going to build.
I’d spent time on both the Strategy and Structure, considering how this would all work together, and on the WHY I wanted to achieve this and my motivators for doing so.
I’d spent time considering the Marketing and knew I’d be recruiting one of the best in the business to help me review, consider and implement how, where and why we would be seen by others. And reviewed how we would structure our sales pipeline to ensure we provided the right services to the right people at the right time to enable escalation throughout our product range.
The numbers had been double checked and tripled checked and I want confident we could achieve the growth I had projected, and I’d spent considerable time looking at how we would manage and maintain the relationship with each and every one of our clients to ensure we received the relevant feedback from them to know we were doing a good job.
Finally, I’d reviewed the team I would need to enable all of this, and begun approaching potential applicants ready for potential recruitment once we had launched!
No, this was not my first time of launching a business. And Yes, I did have an added advantage of having down this 3 times prior.
Within 5 weeks of launching, as as per the business plan; I’d recruited my first member of staff, and just 3 weeks later my second. It was testimony to the strength of planning I’d done knowing that this would be the result. Within 13 weeks of launch we were in business, receiving regular income and had a nucleus team on which I could begin to SCALE.
4 years later…
There have been 2 fundamental oversights I made in the past 4 years, both of which have cost me time, money and the relationship with others. And both of which could and should have been avoided!
- Knowing when to say NO!
As a Business owner, you get to choose! You might argue, no, our customers do, but the simple fact is: It’s your business and you get to choose who you do business with!
We’ve spent almost every day over the past 4+ years working on an incredibly powerful spreadsheet matrix we were given as part of our membership of the Koogar Academy called Define your customer. It has been without doubt THE most impact and important tool within our marketing arsenal to understand more about WHO, WHERE, WHEN and WHY we should market to. 2 years ago, for a period of around 6 months we failed to give this the credence and importance it so rightly deserved. We began to ‘second guess’ the system, and began attracting other types of clients to the business within whom we had previously not received enquiries from.
We thought this was great for business and accepted them as clients, thinking the matrix had perhaps failed to recognise other potential client groups! However within a few short weeks we began to notice a change of mood within the business. A change of enthusiasm and motivation towards some of the work we were now doing. It took me “too long” to stop and determine why this was, but on doing so, quickly learned we had attracted clients so far removed from the matrix predictions that we were being torn between delivering value to our Ideal Target Clients, and ‘managing’ the expectations of people who clearly hadn’t bought into who, what and why we were.
We received our first ever complaint! We received our first cancellation. Neither of which we had witnessed before and something we were initially shocked to learn of.
You see, the more we uncovered what the problem was, the more we began to realise it was INTERNAL!
WE had deviated from the plan, in order to satisfy a new, different group of clients we had introduced into the business. And by doing so, we had created a conflict between what we WANTED to be doing, to what these new clients expected of us! We are not, nor have we ever been, or shall ever be a DONE FOR YOU build the business solution (I’m not sure it actually exists) Yet, when we began to look into the complaints, the cancellation etc it was because we had failed to set the right expectations, and had allowed new customers to enter the business with their own perceptions of what we did, and when that was not the case, became disappointed.
It took me almost 9 months to manage and eventually exit the last of those clients from the business effectively, and cost us both time, energy, resource and missed opportunity! A lesson I really hadn’t wanted to, but needed to learn!
It’s YOUR business, and YOU get to choose. And it”s only when you learn to say NO, that you also know when to say YES!
- PEOPLE, SYSTEM, PROCESS
All have a huge impact and importance in the growth and scale of your business. However, get it wrong or fail to constantly monitor and maintain them at your peril! Yet so many business owners get the emphasis of this relationship completely wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, there is SO much benefit on ensuring the business has systems and processes. And for those of you reading this that know me well, know HOW much I speak about the need for a ‘Business bible’. The SOP’s within the business that are followed religiously (hence the bible analogy) and I praise (see what I did there) business owners that already have their SOP’s (Standing Operating Procedures) documented and followed.
It’s also important to recognise that if you EVER do a task exactly the same more than once, then its once too many. There are SO MANY opportunities for technology to now support the business to replicate repetitive tasks, that none of us should be repeating ANYTHING other than to ensure the automotive AI software we have chosen is doing it as well as (or in some cases better) than we can.
However, in too many businesses, there is still TOO much reliance placed on tech, and OLD tech at that, without recognising the PEOPLE element of the equation.
“The greatest investment every company can ever make, is in the recruitment and development of its people”
PEOPLE HAVE TO COME FIRST. YOUR people, YOUR team. These are the ones which if treated well will outperform any computer or program, simply because a program will only do as its told, where as a person will REACT. Get it wrong and the person will act like a computer and simply do as its told!
We HAVE to continually look after our people, and ensure the SYSTEMS and PROCESSES we have adopted within the business, continually SUPPORT them rather than hinder them in performing to the very best of their ability.
Tech is there to support not replace.
Enough, is enough.
I’ve been guilty of this also. And, having put the systems and processes in place to support the business when we launched, have failed to question as to whether this is still fit for purpose for the business we have grown to become. Old tech, has been letting my team down, so much so that they have duplicated a number of functions manually because the tech no longer supports the requirements of the business!
As business owners we CANNOT afford to let our finger off the pulse, and this often means continually reviewing every aspect of the business, no stone unturned. And to apply the Kaizen philosophy of incremental improvements to every aspect of every process, every time!
I had a long, frank and very revealing conversation with my Accounts Manager yesterday. It was unscheduled and reacting to a client with whom we had made an error. The client had correctly voiced their disappointment and concerns, and we had replied on tech to alert us to a problem, and to provide the resolution!
I was reminded only earlier this morning to an old quote I’d long since forgotten:
“Being alerted to the errors we all make, is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate to the client, what we are willing to do to put this right”
I’ve immediately put a whole strong of reviews, amendments, a survey and an action plan in place. And in the process of showing to the client exactly how much we value the opportunity to have this lesson brought to us. That despite our very best intentions, we can ALL fall from grace. We can ALL fail to acknowledge that the small things are the big things, and whilst we fight to work on progression, we can so easily create regression by our failing to stop and review.
There are at least 2 STARK lessons I wish you to take from this, (and I’m sure countless more you could)
Learn that as a business owner YOU get to choose. And until you do, you’ll simply become a busy fool! Often at the expense of your own progression.
And that you HAVE to spend more time supporting your people to support your clients/customers. And that regardless how much or little technology you have involved in your business, no matter how well tuned and refined your business bible (SOP’s) are, there must ALWAYS be room for improvement, and that will come from putting PEOPLE not technology first!
I’m off to show a client how much we appreciate their negative feedback, and to purchase a suitable gift for the members of my team I’ve not supported sufficiently by thinking technology was the answer!