After 17 years in business development, director and co-founder of Slo-Jo, creator of tailor-made taste sensations for South Africa’s leading restaurant chains I have to share some of my business success ‘secrets’. In my experience, once you set structure and strategy in place, and boost this with training, success in inevitable.
Businesses are like families – there are different types of people that make everything work: there are some creatives, some process-driven people, some influencers, and some leaders. In the same way that you would try to accommodate all these talents to build a harmonious and successful family, so you need to work to create the time and place for different parts of your business to thrive.
A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, but there are some basics that every family – and every business – need to get right.
Related: Boost Your Business Success In 2017
Secret #1: Structure
I’ve seen that many industries view manufacturing to be a very structured and process-driven side of their business, preferring to leave the research and development teams to explore in an unstructured ‘sandbox’ environment, without any restrictions on their imaginations, their creativity, or their inspiration.
I totally disagree with this approach. I believe that successful creative development only takes place within structured, systematic parameters put in place with a clear strategy in mind – similar to how you would create processes and structures for the manufacturing side of your business. If you don’t have these in place, you’re setting your company up for failure.
While the creative and manufacturing sides of our business both operate within structures and parameters, we have chosen to house them at different sites. We’ve seen this have a positive impact on our business because it gives different operations and different personality types the structures and spaces that they need to get their job done to the best of their ability – with everyone using our overall strategy to guide them in their decision-making.
Secret #2: Share your strategy
Everybody’s going to get lost if they don’t know which direction they’re supposed to be going in, so share your vision, your passion, your dreams and your strategy for your company with all your employees, so that everyone can get on board and pull in the same direction.
We have had to find a balance between having our teams at different sites so that they have the space they need to do their jobs, and keeping communication channels open, so that our strategy is interpreted and understood properly by everyone in the company.
We’ve learned that the teams do need to get together from time to time and take a break, to make sure that everyone is aligned with the Slo-Jo vision, and that we nurture our carefully developed culture, rather than dividing it.
Secret #3: Get moving with training
Apart from missing structure or strategy in a business, I believe that one of the biggest shortcomings in South African businesses is its failure to invest in training. In our business, which is all about developing beverages for the hospitality trade, at least 50 percent of our success lies in training our people, and giving them the opportunity to realise their talents and growth.
It’s for this reason that we encourage job shadowing throughout our company, with the exceptions of finance and HR. Doing so gives all our people insights into every aspect of the organisation, which helps them understand the role they play in its success, and appreciate their colleagues’ contributions too. It also shows them their potential to grow – and we’re only too happy to help them to move in their chosen direction.
Doing this was how we identified that our then-receptionist had a talent for sales – and she is now our national sales manager. Similarly, our head of beverage design started with us as a sales representative – but displayed the vision and talent that has seen her become the creative force behind our products.
Giving people the room – and the security – that they need to expand their skills could be a risk – but it is the only way that you can encourage people to move beyond the tunnel vision that comes with only believing that they can do one task, and the only way you can grow your business to new heights.
Here’s What Jeff Bezos Prefers To Work-Life Balance And Why You Should Live By It
Work-life balance naively suggests working and non-working hours should be evenly apportioned.
Amazon is known for building a culture that values hard work. So much so that the organisation has received criticism from current and former employees for having to work on Thanksgiving, or even when ill.
When asked about Amazon’s work-life balance, Jeff Bezos remarked that he ascribed to the phrase “work-life harmony” instead.
Here’s how hard-charging businesspeople can maintain energy at home and at work without burning out by finding work-life harmony in place of work-life balance.
Measure work and home focus as a matter of energy instead of time
It isn’t about how many hours you spend at home or at work; it’s about the energy you bring to both parts of your life. If you enjoy working long hours, and that helps you to feel present while at home, then by all means continue.
This is a fundamental principle in Bezos’s theory of dividing one’s time between work and life. Because Bezos loves what he does, he finds energy from accomplishing his work in a manner that works well with his notoriously high standards.
As many can attest, our emotions bleed into all areas of our life. When you can gain energy from doing good work, it can help to propel you to be more successful in your life outside of work. Conversely, when things aren’t right at home, it can be difficult to find the energy to do your best work in the office. A central precept of work-life harmony is living such that both the professional and personal aspects of our life energise us to be our best at home and in the office.
This does not necessarily mean that we should spend our time in a balanced way, as the phrase “work-life balance” implies. Rather, we should spend our time in such a way that we are our best selves. In so doing, we will be better people on the whole.
Build a flexible work-life schedule
Just as different people will amass different levels of energy from work and life outside of work, different people will find they are most productive at different times of the day. The 9-5 work culture that has existed for decades is really shifting now. Most modern offices allow some form of flexible work, which means you have the ability to set your own hours to some degree.
Experiment with working at different times of the day to find the schedule the helps you to be most productive. In so doing, you’ll have more time to do your best work, and more energy to spend with loved ones as a result of increased productivity.
Know when to say “no”
We tend to think that taking on as many projects as possible is a sign of a good professional. But being busy is not the same as making an impact. To do your best work, you’ll need to prioritise projects that you know you can add value to.
Spinning your wheels is demoralising. Look for projects in which you can easily enter a “flow state” where hours melt away. This is the environment in which you are doing your best work, and are happy to be doing the work itself. It is in moments of flow that we often feel most productive, and even fulfilled. Therefore, it is after moments of flow that we tend to feel guilt-free about enjoying quality time with loved ones while unplugging from work.
If you’re approaching a time-consuming work project, communicate that to the important people in your life. Otherwise, they may think you are avoiding them due to a more insidious reason.
Providing those you love with a glimpse into your professional commitments can also help them to help you. If a good friend knows it will be difficult for you to communicate for a few weeks, they will know to pause conversations so as not to burden you with having to reply to texts or emails.
Similarly, a partner who knows that you are responsible for delivering an important project may be able to rearrange their schedule in order to better support you in the short term.
Conversely, if family commitments will prevent you from working at full capacity for a certain period of time, set the right expectations with colleagues. A good workplace is one that is flexible to the realities of employees’ personal lives. Managers who care about the well-being of their people are usually willing to help employees take care of personal commitments.
Adapting to a changing work life
Work no longer happens between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM, Monday to Friday. Work happens Saturday mornings, and late Friday nights. It happens on vacation, and during graduations. The idea of work-life balance suggests that there should be an even split between working and non-working hours.
In reality, those who have undertaken ambitious careers should aim for work-life harmony, a lifestyle in which both aspects of life give you the energy to be your best self as frequently as possible.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Give Your Business The Best Chance Of Success
For that to happen an entrepreneur must distil the business’s reason for being and then doggedly pursue that vision.
In my capacity as a business owner and venture capitalist, one of the questions I get asked most often by entrepreneurs is, “how do I ensure my business succeeds?” While there’s no straightforward answer, there are important elements that I believe every entrepreneur must consider to ensure the greatest probability of success.
Firstly, no business will succeed if it doesn’t solve a unique pain point or problem for modern consumers or businesses. However, even if a business is able to carve out that niche, there’s no guarantee that growth will follow. For that to happen an entrepreneur must distil the business’s reason for being and then doggedly pursue that vision.
North Star metric
This principle of having a clear business vision guides all my decisions. Whenever I need to validate a choice or a change in strategic direction, or if I’m trying to determine what to focus on, I always refer back to my vision. If the two are incongruent, then I know I need to change tack.
Elon Musk is a great example of a successful entrepreneur who is guided by his grand vision. Everything he does, from Tesla to SpaceX, pertains to sustainability, both for the planet and the human race. It might be hard to make the connection when you consider his various businesses out of context, but everything he creates fits into a broader ecosystem that in some way moves the needle towards his ultimate objective. Developing Tesla cars that run on renewable energy is but a small, short-term plan that feeds into his grand vision, yet it’s also been the catalyst for the evolution of the motoring industry.
Related: The Popimedia (Mega) Success Story
Be clear, concise
In the same way, every decision an entrepreneur makes should in some way take them a step closer to realising their vision. In this regard, it is also vital that your vision is crystal clear – a murky or undefined vision will divert you off your path to success.
That’s because you’ll tend to focus on the wrong things, especially when scaling rapidly, or when running bigger organisations, because there are many tasks to complete every day. A lack of clarity also leads to poor decision-making, or, worse, decision paralysis, and that’s business suicide – I’d rather make a bad decision than no decision at all, because it prompts action. However, with a clear vision, more often than not, those decisions will be correct.
Defining your vision
So, how do you know if your vision is clear and, more importantly, relevant and consequential? The way I stress test my vision is to evaluate it every day against the decisions I take, and the direction of the business. This daily process helps to sharpen my decisions over time.
The other step is to remain open-minded enough to accept and acknowledge criticism, and take on board advice from trusted confidants and impartial experts. This is important, because you need to craft your vision based on as much information as possible, including valid criticism.
Ultimately, though, your vision for the business should align with your purpose. Forget about money and turnover as points of departure when defining your vision. These are merely metrics that can determine the strength and effectiveness of your business strategy.
For each of my several business interests, be it VC funding or ad-tech innovation, I have different visions. Each are meaningful to me, but in every instance, I don’t wake up every day with the sole ambition of making money.
While I need to make money to grow these businesses, or build something new, having purpose and vision are the ways I pull through those inevitable challenging situations. Having your vision front of mind in everything you do helps you make better decisions, and makes the hardships easier to endure. It helps you see through the turmoil, because you know where the process will lead, and you always know where the ultimate objective lies.
Jimmy Choo’s Co-Founder Explains Why There Are No Small Jobs
Tamara Mellon shares the strategy that has helped her find new opportunities throughout her career.
The co-founder of Jimmy Choo, Tamara Mellon, believes that you can find inspiration and opportunity anywhere. All it takes is determination to keep going and a keen eye for observation.
Mellon began her career in the early 1990s working as an accessories editor for British Vogue. Always on the hunt for up-and-coming designers, she came across Jimmy Choo, a cobbler working in London’s East End.
She would commission him to create shoes for fashion shoots. They were so well received by readers that the pair realised they could expand beyond one-of-kind pieces for the pages of the magazine.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Business Ideas Directory7 days ago
20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)
Business Advice for Women Entrepreneurs2 weeks ago
How I Run An International Business From A Remote Beach Town In The Eastern Cape
Entrepreneur Profiles2 weeks ago
30 Top Influential SA Business Leaders
Women Entrepreneur Successes20 hours ago
Alphabet Soup Founder Nikki Lewin Discusses How They Compete With The Big Boys
Entrepreneur Profiles2 weeks ago
Kid Entrepreneurs Who Have Already Built Successful Businesses (And How You Can Too)
Women Entrepreneur Successes15 hours ago
Erna Basson Of Erabella Hair Extensions On Acting The Part And Finding The Gap
Entrepreneur Today7 days ago
Nedbank Brings Silicon Valley’s Plug And Play To Africa In Disruption First For The Continent
Lessons Learnt2 weeks ago
6 Habits Long-Time Millionaires Rely On To Stay Rich