Just like humans, every business has weaknesses. In some cases business owners simply need to work on one or two areas to propel their business to amazing growth and profits. What is the one missing key to your business success?
One of my business ventures was a small service company with 130 employees. Our largest customer was a Ritz Carlton hotel, and the hotel chain was involved with the Malcolm Baldrige Process, a way for organizations to achieve outstanding results. Our leadership team decided to get involved with this process at a state level, and we hired a business coach to help us identify areas of improvement. We grew our profits by more than one thousand percent!
What is the Missing Key to Business Success
There are seven keys to business success according to the Baldrige criteria. Over the next few blog articles, I will be writing about these seven keys. How is your business doing in these areas? Growth normally requires things like small business loans and access to business credit lines but without these 7 keys you will not be managing that growth as effectively and efficiently as you could.
Most small businesses are strong in the area of leadership. It takes strong leaders to start and run business. However once your business is going, how do you keep the momentum going? Do you communicate a clear vision, strong values and a compelling mission? Is your team growing, learning and adjusting to the business environment?
2. Strategic Planning.
In my work with small business owners, many do not have a current business plan. That is a huge mistake, especially in this volatile business environment. For example, you would be surprised how many businesses are fortunate enough to get a small business loan but then they don’t use the funds for revenue-generating initiatives and the end result is just more debt and no new clients or business. Every business owner should have short and long term goals, and every employee should understand the goals. Consider all your stakeholders during your planning.
3. Customer Focus.
This area is also a strength for many small business owners. But as a business grows it is easy to lose touch with customers, and without customers your business is dead! Do you have ways of measuring customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction? Are you improving?
Speaking of measurement, do you know your business “stats?” In the same way that sports teams know statistics about players, coaches and their offense and defense, you need to track important information. Nearly everyone tracks sale and profits, but do you know the value of your business? What are your key business success factors? Do know how your numbers compared to competitors? You should.
5. Workforce Focus.
Many business owners struggle with finding good employees. Your employees are critical to your business success. Cutting edge leaders believe that their employees are more important than their customers. How do you attract and retain good people?
6. Operations Focus.
The way you deliver your product or service can make you or break you. If you can provide excellent products and services consistently every time, your customers will likely stay with you. Otherwise, you are “rolling the dice.” Wise business owners develop measurable processes that ensure a great customer experience with few exceptions.
This, of course, is the bottom line of all your efforts in business. Once you have determined what is important to measure and have established measures, how are you doing? Are your “stats” improving? How do they compare with your competition or industry? Are your sales and profits growing, or are you struggling like many small businesses? Is your business value growing?
After reviewing these seven keys, what are the top one or two areas that could use some attention in your business? Focus your efforts on the area where your business needs to improve. If you need help, don’t be afraid to seek it out.
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