OK so this is the second time I’ve written about this but the more clients I work with and the more I learn, the more I think this message bears repeating. For all the advice there is out there about how to run a business, there are really only 5 very basic things that every business needs to do well. And yet, I find very few businesses that have all of these nailed.
I’ve worked in, and with, businesses of all sizes. From multi billion pound blue chips that exist in hundreds of countries to kitchen table enterprises that are just getting off the ground and literally everything in between. And only a handful have all 5 of these things down pat. They all do some of these things, and some of them do all of them to some extent but none do all of them, all of the time.
I thought when I started working with small businesses and start ups that they would be hugely different to the big corporates. And they are, massively different –
Want to know how to be a better leader? Know this - leadership is everything you do.
At a recent panel discussion I went to, the question was asked - how do I find time to lead my team? When do I lead in between all of the other priorities I have? And the answer? Leadership is everything you do. Your team will look to you for cues and clues on exactly how you want your business to run. Every conversation you have with them or someone else, you are showing them how people have conversations in your business. Every decision you make, you are showing them how decisions are made and what the priorities are in your business. The way you deal with customers and suppliers is the way that customers and suppliers are dealt with in your business.
As business owners, we're so used to working in the business, managing the next big thing, fixing issues, thinking of ways to drive sales, managing the admin and so on that often it feels incredibly indulgent to just sit and think for a while. Sit in front of a coach though, especially one you've paid to spend time with, and you've really very little choice.
If 'sitting and thinking' feels as though it lacks focus for you, my simple structure for doing your own review of things should work a treat. I've been using it recently to help small business owners review their year in business and the feedback has been incredible. It's disarmingly simple but incredibly effective.
The one thing I hear time and time again from business owners both new and old, startup or established, big or small is a feeling of overwhelm. A feeling of doing too much, being in too many meetings, trying to succeed on too many fronts.
It's a common issue, and there's a common cause. Complexity is the downfall of many a business and business leader. In the pursuit of success we do as many things as we can to get the results we want. We launch as many products as possible through as many channels as we can, create as many connections as possible and try and be everywhere at once. It's a kind of commercial spread betting and in the start up stage, it kind of makes sense.
I’ve written about the sleep inducing powers of talking about systems and process before. It's something I've encountered the whole of my career - tell someone they need process in their business and their eyes glaze over. Ask them what they want to fix though, or what's holding them back, and they get a whole lot more animated. In 90% of those conversations, the answer to their problems or the thing that will get them unstuck is... you guessed it... a process.
There are three key processes that every business needs. The don’t need to take up huge amounts of time and if you implement and follow these three processes consistently, not only will you have a more profitable and sustainable business, you will also feel more sane and have more time for the good stuff like strategy and, well, the odd day off perhaps!