Leveraging Innovative Expertise To Boost Business
by Chris Slezakowski, Market Strategist
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS A BOOST?
As businesses evolve, they need to convert or acquire new customers. The services or products provided operate in a complex system of multi-channel marketing, social media, supply-and-demand forces, and, above all, competition. Growing your business takes internal time and thought, but how do you recognise when it is time for external guidance?
When businesses set their plans, a strategy is created to guide activity in the forthcoming year. Performance is usually reviewed monthly, so that gives around 12 times per year when the business reviews its trajectory. And if you eliminate Month 1 (because it is too early to tell) and Month 12 (because you are anticipating a new budget), that leaves 10 times a year to consider options.
In most businesses, it is not even as often as that. Small and medium enterprises are typically busy with their day-to-day activities, presenting two dilemmas:
- How do you make time to stop and think about your plans?
- Do you have all the expertise you need to guide your decision making?
WHAT DOES “BOOSTING BUSINESS” INVOLVE?
Boosting business performance means increasing profit, growing the business, improving margins, or reducing costs. Sometimes it is explained as a process solution, organisational realignment, or using big data, but cutting through all of these is the need to generate more profit. So how do businesses do that?
Sometimes the only action necessary is to make space in the calendar to discuss business goals. By discussing what is working, what is causing problems, and what would be a good outcome, actions can be drawn up to boost performance. I generally ask the following:
- What do you do well but not enough?
- What do you do badly/suffer from that you want to change?
- What do you want to be able to do that you can’t do today?
The key to boosting business is innovation. Innovation does not necessarily mean transforming the offer or abandoning an enterprise, but it does mean keeping up with trends and changes in the market to ensure that customers are happy to stay.
Once you achieve innovation, you can increase profit. “Profit is not the most important thing in business; it is the only thing,” said Sir John Harvey-Jones, industrialist role model. To put that in context; “profit is not the primary objective of business, but rather an essential condition to ensure a company’s continued existence.” That was said by Peter Drucker, who pointed out that the primary function of a business is to serve its customers.
PUTTING CUSTOMERS AT THE HEART OF EVERYTHING WE DO
Unfortunately, this is now cliché. Several companies have this statement somewhere in their mantra, reducing the impact of making such a statement. It is no longer enough to say you value your customers. Recent research from Salesforce suggests that 70% of customers base their loyalty on their actual experience with a supplier.
RISE OF THE GIG DIRECTOR
Good corporate governance requires boards to include non-executive directors (NEDs) or nominated advisors; highly experienced individuals with expertise across a variety of different companies who guide the directors. The advantage of using part-time NEDs is that it brings balance to an otherwise potentially biased discussion. As companies restructure themselves, it is critical that they call on these experts when needed.
ADVISOR OR COLLEAGUE?
By employing the services of an experienced advisor, you get access to the same level of expertise and guidance as an employee without the full-time responsibility for their well-being and daily activity. My clients want help with their business planning and prefer to engage with me once or twice a month rather than on a daily basis. That suits me, too. My experience is what they value, and they call upon it when they have decisions to make. Think of a lawyer or a doctor; we may need access to health and legal advice every so often, but few of us can afford to have them on the payroll every day. That is why so many companies choose to use professional advisors.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP?
If you find yourself asking questions about what to do next; that’s when it’s time to ask for support.
Please note: This article contains the sole views and opinions of Chris Slezakowski and does not reflect the views or opinions of Guidepoint Global, LLC (“Guidepoint”). Guidepoint is not a registered investment adviser and cannot transact business as an investment adviser or give investment advice. The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute investment advice, nor is it intended as an offer or solicitation of an offer or a recommendation to buy, hold or sell any security. Any use of this article without the express written consent of Guidepoint and Chris Slezakowski is prohibited.