28/07/2011

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Gerard Burke, Owner and Director, Your Business Your Future:

The seven pillars of a better business are seven characteristics which seem to distinguish those businesses that consistently perform better compared to the average small business. They are based on our observations of having worked with over 600 of the UK's most successful owner managers and owner managed businesses over the last 6 and a half years or so.

1.) It's up to you!

In the owner managed business, your business looks and feels the way that it does today and has the opportunities and challenges it has today because its yours! My business is the same. If we swapped roles, each of those businesses would be different. Your passion provides the energy and inspiration for the business. Your mood impacts significantly on the way that other people perform in the business. Your energy is the main driver behind the success of the business. So it follows from that...if you want to build a better business, you have to be a better owner manager. A better leader for your business.

2.) Know what you want!

Actually its a direct coronary of pillar number 1. Your business looks and feels the way it does today because its yours and actually the primary driver of what your business will be like in the future is what you want it to be. Your personal goals, your personal drivers, your personal ambitions. The future that you want to create for you. Being very clear about your goals, your personal drivers, your personal ambitions will then allow you to build a business that delivers those things to you. That will keep you energised, driven and passionate and motivated and so the business will fly.

3.) Become a strategist

Many owner managers spend a significant proportion of their time either actually delivering the core products or services that their business does or managing day to day operations. Typically fighting fires and managing crises. For businesses to grow and become better business in future, then you as owner manager need to find some of your time to be able to work on the business rather than being in it all the time. Looking forwards and outwards, defining the future you want to create for your business and for you.

4.) Know where you're going

A business that has a clear inspiring vision of where its going and a clear comprehensive and robust plan of how you're going to get from where you are now to where you want to be is much more likely to sustain superior performance from one that simply muddles through from day to day and follows the wind and the tides. So if you want to build a better business, articulate an inspiring vision of where you want the business to be and then put together a very clear plan of how you're going to get there.

5.) Stick to the knitting and stand out from the crowd!

Now this is quite challenging for many owner managers. Remarkably, nearly 90% of businesses that grow successfully and profitably and consistently will achieve that growth by selling more of their existing products and services to their existing customers and people just like them. They stick to the knitting. They absolutely dominate their niche. And truly understand what their customers value. By doing that, they are able to stand out from the crowd by being able to articulate very clearly what it is that their product or service delivers to their customers which is distinctly better than if those customers went somewhere else. They can articulate the distinctive benefits that their product and service brings to their customers. If you want a better business, you need to stick to your knitting and stand out from the crowd.

6.) Master the (right) numbers

I have never actually met a successful CEO, MD or owner manager who does not have mastery of their numbers. The important thing to remember here though is that you have to master the right numbers. Now in any business, there are certain numbers which are important. The most important number for every business is actually cash. What is your cash position? Have you got enough cash to continue to survive and to invest in order to thrive and grow. The second most important number is profit. It is remarkable to observe the number of owner managers who articulate their objectives in terms of turnover and as the famous phrase goes, turnover is vanity, profit is sanity and cash is reality. If you want to build a better business, make sure you are mastering the right numbers in your business.

7.) Build a better team

No matter how clear you are about where you are going and how inspirational your vision and how well put together and well thought out your plan is, the reality of the future that will actually be brought about in your business, depends on what your people do on a day to day basis on the ground. Therefore, if you want to build a better business, build a better team. Have better people, with better skills and better managed.

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