26 Jan

What does it take to build a sustainable business?

There is no such thing as a silver bullet strategy when it comes to business success , that being one action or activity that will miraculously build a successful business. We all intrinsically know this, but yet, so many business owners set themselves up for failure and disappointment by taking on for example the mindset of, “If I just do this one promotion, then everything will be fine.

Not to put a damper on your efforts, but sometimes we do need a reality check. One of the key components of achieving one’s goals is that you must be realistic, very simple. If you want to build a sustainable business and avoid being a one hit wonder there are a few key components you will need to ensure are part of your business structure and business ethics.

Vision and mission

Before you excitedly start setting business goals, think about what your long term vision is.  What is your ultimate goal and how do you want to be seen in five or ten years time? Once that has been defined then confirm your mission statement.

Completing your business vision/mission statement shouldn’t be done begrudgingly, rushed through or be viewed as an afterthought. Put the time aside to build this part of your business. Why? Your vision and mission are your guiding lights whenever a business decision needs to be made. They keep you focused in good times and very importantly  they guide you when times are tough and there will likely be many tough times in your business. Therefore, establishing strong, powerful and bright guiding lights makes good business sense.

Courage, resilience and grit

In my opinion these are probably some of the most important character traits to have when running a business . Having the strength and courage to pick yourself up after failure will turn you into a survivor. If you have the ability to do this, you can achieve anything. These character traits do not always come easily and we are often only asked to prove ourselves when we have already fallen on hard times. No opportunities for test driving these qualities.

To boost these character traits it is advised to have a solid business plan and a business purpose that is true to your values. It can be tricky and extremely demotivating to be courageous if you don’t really believe in your purpose one hundred percent.

Support

Being a business owner is not for the faint-hearted. So make sure you have a good strong pool of people you can call on during the tough times. This can take the form of business partners, family, friends, mentors, coaches or professional networking groups.

Support is also good to have in times of success, sharing your wins with your support network can be extremely rewarding.

Consistency

Consistency in business builds trust and loyalty with your customers. Whatever your business goals are make sure you are consistent in your delivery, follow through and follow up. Customers will very quickly look elsewhere if you are inconsistent and unreliable.

To make sure you are consistent in your business, always have a plan. Yearly, quarterly, month, weekly and daily. There is much to be said about the saying, “proper planning prevents poor performance”.

Business success will be different for every business, depending on what the end goals are, however one thing that all businesses have in common, is the need to achieve the goals.

So, when you are planning your goals for the year or quarter ahead, also think about these  components. Do you have a strong vision? How courageous are you and how would you persevere during tough times? Who is your support network and do you operate your business in a consistent manner? Some food for thought.

11 Jan

Mis-en-place a recipe for success

About a million years ago, when I was studying at hotel school I learned about and practised the french discipline of ‘mis-en-place’.

Roughly translated it means, “putting in place” or “everything in its place”.  This practise is not just a term, but actually a way of life for any chef who wants to have a highly organised, productive and efficient kitchen. To ensure a successful end-result, which would be happy customers eating well prepared dishes, you should always have all of the ingredients, utensils, equipment and staff at the ready before even thinking about starting any cooking.

How does this have anything to do with business you may be thinking? Well, it is extremely relevant and pretty simple. If you want to be successful, to work smarter not harder, you need to be pre-prepared before heading out into the big wide world of business.

Ingredients

In the kitchen these would be the very best fresh produce, meats, dry goods, herbs and spices. Think about why you would go to a restaurant and order a specific dish. Is it because it’s something you cannot create yourself? Is it something not commonly available, so unique, so indulgent that it makes your mouth water just thinking about it, and you know for certain that you just have to order it?

In business, your ingredients would be your products and/or services. Do you believe your products and/or services are unique to your target audience and that the value they add is so good that your customers will return, because they cannot purchase it anywhere else, or that it is so good they just have to have it? If not, what would you need to do to make your products and/or service a high demand item or service?

Equipment and utensils

Depending on the desired end result, the chef  could use something as simple as a chef’s knife or as complex as a food processor. It just depends on the need.

In business I would equate this to your systems and processes. Do you believe you have the best procedures and structures in your business to guarantee the best outcomes? Do your processes allow you to work smarter, cut out the unnecessary clutter and provide the customers with the best service?

If not, what would you need to do in order to make this a reality?

Staff

A restaurant can have the best location, state of the art equipment and top notch suppliers, but if the staff working in the kitchens as well as in the front of house are unskilled and incompetent you might as well close your doors.

Think about the team members in your business, or if you are a one-man band, think about our own skills and capabilities. Are you able to deliver on what you are promising and not stopping there, what is the self-development plan for the future?

What is the mis-en-place that you need to do in your business to ensure that you are on the road to success?

05 Jan

Hi, my name is …, and I’m a workaholic

Imagine this scenario, after years of job-hopping, dabbling in various industries and clock-watching until the end of the work day, you have finally found your calling in life! You have discovered what you were put on this earth to do. Every morning you jump out of bed with great energy and gusto, full of creativity, ideas and solutions, ready to get stuck into work for the day.

The euphoric feeling of loving your work, feeling valued and having the right “fit”  is incredible. You feel like you could go on working forever with no sleep as if you were permanently on cloud nine. Herein however lies a problem, if you jump in boots and all, continuing at the same pace and intensity with no boundaries, you may find yourself waking up one day realising that your life is all about your work and nothing else.

If you don’t want to be classified as a workaholic or a “work martyr” and you want to maintain the love for what you do in your work and still maintain some sort of balance, then think about implementing the following guidelines into your day. This way you can have your cake and eat it too.

1. Have beginnings and ends

Have set times every day to start and end your work day.  By keeping these time boundaries in place it prevents you from encroaching into your personal time. Sticking to this every day allows you to start building a positive routine into your life.

You may believe that by extending your working hours it will be beneficial to your business, more hours means getting more work done? Actually working more hours does not make us more productive. According to a study completed at Ohio University the human brain needs a 15 minute break after every hour of work. Unfortunately not many people carry out this practise, which results in a decrease in productivity. Interestingly, another study published in 2014 by John Pencavel of Stanford University showed that an employee’s output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours. All that is achieved is a waste of time and an increase in your frustration levels.

2. Have daily micro-goals

To-do lists have their place, but one component that is most often missing from this list is a deadline. This can be dangerous especially for someone who is prone to shifting into workaholic mode. To-do lists can go on forever and we tend to keep adding to the list without including deadlines.

So here is a challenge for you. Every day pick 3 micro-goals, tasks which you can achieve in one day. This helps to re-enforce the “beginning and end” concept. Ending the day at a set time, knowing that you have completed the set tasks for that day provides a sense of closure.

3. Have a hobby

It’s not about rushing out and joining a book club or scrapbooking group for the sake of having an interest. It’s about acknowledging the fact that work is not everything. Finding something that inspires you, motivates you, challenges and excites you besides work is key to creating that work-life balance we hear about so often, but don’t always achieve.

Something I learned growing up was “too much of a good thing is not good for you.”  A simple principle that has kept me in check over the years. Everything in moderation, that includes work.

You may find the workaholics anonymous assessment helpful if you believe you may be a workaholic.