By John Rosling, UK CEO of Shirlaws

Running a successful small business is no mean feat. Growing it profitably is still more challenging. Analysis of hundreds of SME (Small and Medium Enterprise} businesses across three continents has demonstrated there are five key attributes that, when in place, allow any business to reach its full potential.

A business that demonstrates it has these five aspects aligned, is an organisation that has crossed the line from being a small business limited by skills, to one that is in for the long haul — achieving continual profitable development. And with these structures in place, a business also becomes an attractive proposition to corporate financiers or acquisitive corporates, should that be your long-term vision for the business.

If you are frustrated that your business is standing still and you find all your time taken up fire-fighting the daily problems that occur, rather than planning the company’s future, then here are the areas you should be looking at:


What is your primary focus in the market place? Businesses need to be clear about what they are offering to their customers and it should be one of the following to ensure customer loyalty and maximum profitability:

• product focused, e.g. Apple with its iPod

• market focused, e.g. Saga specifically targeting the over 50s

• service focused, e.g. Amazon providing an internet book ordering service

• price focused, e.g. EasyJet with its low-cost flights

A lack of focus makes a business weaker and susceptible to the threat of competition and price pressures.


Do you have the right people in the right roles to grow your business? Are you and your senior team busy handling day-to-day administrative tasks rather than strategically looking at the business? Getting everyone in the company understanding their roles and responsibilities is one of the fundamental issues faced by mid-tier businesses.

Managing Third Party Relationships

How do you get new business? The most effective way is through recommendation. You need a process in place to efficiently manage business relationships that will encourage and increase referred business.

Decision Making in Context

How do you and your team make decisions? We all have choices — and everyone in your company will be taking decisions every day. If all your employees understand and agree the context, or the bigger picture, then they can make better choices and don’t always have to seek management intervention. Moving away from a task-oriented environment to a holistic orientation not only increases the likelihood of people making the right choices but it also allows a more hands-off management style and speeds up your business.


What happens to the business if you leave it? For your business to be viable you need to be continually writing yourself out of a job — ensuring that the value of the business stays with the company and not with an individual.

In the coming newsletter we will look at each of these topics in depth and encourage you to take a fresh look at how your business is organised. By introducing and developing these skills in your business you can take control and shape the future – and fulfil the vision that made you start your business in the first place.

Shirlaws is an international business coaching firm that specialises in helping businesses to grow, no matter what stage of development they are at. Founded in Australia in 1999, it has since grown to have bases in Europe, North America, New Zealand and the UAE servicing approximately 600 clients.

We work alongside entrepreneurs and business owners to drive both commercial and cultural change, enabling our clients to experience:

• increased revenues and profits;

• improved business culture and personal lifestyle; and

• a sustainable business that is less reliant on key stakeholders.


John Rosling will be speaking at Fresh Business Thinking LIVE!. His session will explore: how successful businesses understand the unique “intellectual property” that is the rocket fuel of their business; how they use that knowledge to drive extraordinary future revenues; why innovating the way you package what you sell is the fastest way to secure new markets at this stage in the cycle; how product evolution and looking “beyond service” will create clients for life; and how the businesses that fail will be the ones that simply carry on selling the same product in the same way at the same price.

If you own or run a business then you have to wear many hats and you need access to the very best advice and information to ensure business survival and growth.

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Experts in; Raising finance, Employment Law, Internet Marketing, Sales, Technology and much more.

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