There are more than 2.3 million businesses currently operating in Australia. Despite a boost of over 15 per cent in new businesses entering the market last year, over 12 per cent exited. Only 62 per cent of Australian businesses will continue to operate beyond four years.
The numbers don’t lie: running a successful business is a struggle. Most won’t survive. In my line of work, I am lucky enough to engage with a vast network of Australian SMEs. In this time I’ve observed five key areas that will make or break any business, regardless of industry, size or scope. By focusing on these five action areas, your business will have a useful formula for delivering business success.
1. Plan, plan, plan
Does your business have a detailed business plan? A 12-month cash projection? Five-year goals? KPIs? Without establishing what it is you want to achieve and planning how to get there, business becomes guesswork. It sounds obvious, but in my experience, the majority of businesses are lacking when it comes to planning. While nothing in business – or in life – is 100 per cent certain, visualising success and mapping how to get there is essential.
2. Focus on your people
Do you have the right people in your business? Who you employ in your business makes a huge difference to your success. Your people will win or lose you business, so employing and developing the right people is critical. If you employ based on attitude, you can’t go wrong. Skills and knowledge can be developed, whereas a poor attitude is much more difficult to shift. Select people who want to learn, are energetic, positive and hold themselves accountable. These people will contribute to high performance, especially if you have accountability and incentive structures in place to drive that performance. If you look after them, they’ll look after you.
3. Simplify problem solving
Does it feel like you are constantly “fighting fires”? Solving problems is a daily occurrence in business, but it can become much simpler if you have the right structures in place. To problem solve successfully, it’s important that you are able to identify problems early. You must capture the data which measures your success – or lack of. For example, if you forecast cashflow, you’ll know in advance if there is a cashflow bottleneck ahead. The only way to solve the problem is to be able to first identify the problem. You’ll then have sufficient time to take action to rectify it.
4. Promote your business
Is your marketing up to scratch? Marketing and promotion is a business’ gateway to sales. Whether your marketing program is focused on new leads, building the brand, retaining existing customers or creating advocates for your business, all will contribute to a healthy top line. Marketing will enable you to generate growth within your existing customers, win new customers, engage the market and own your space.
5. Stay passionate
Most business owners start out as passionate and positive, but the daily grind can wear them down. If you are able to stay passionate and positive about your business, it will not only become easier for you to love what you do, that passion will come across to your customers as well. Talk up your business to everyone and anyone. Live and breathe it. Your customers and staff will respond in kind.
If you can get the formula right in these five areas your business will be in great shape now and into the future.
John Post, Training and Development Manager, Kwik Kopy