As a mentor and business developer, I am often asked what the most important thing is in determining business success. Of course, there are many possible answers, depending on the size and nature of the business in question, it’s position in the business life cycle (start-up, emerging, established) and many other factors.
Related: 6 Surefire Ways to Realise Goals
Stock answers include things like focus, passion, determination, vision…and all of these are extremely important to the success of any venture. But there is something that, to my mind, is even more likely to result in success if implemented properly and consistently right across your organisation – and that is making it easy to do business with you.
Sounds obvious, right? And yet you would be amazed at how many capable, intelligent and even visionary entrepreneurs do not manage to get this part of the equation consistently correct.
Some of us are too focused on the big picture to spot shortcomings at an operational level, others are blinded by hype or ego or quick wins, while some just fail to see the value in this most elementary of business rules – make it easy and enjoyable for people to do business with you, and they will – it is really that simple.
Making it easy
So what do I mean when I say you need to make it easy for people to do business with you? Well, let’s start with a few practical questions, and you should then start to see where I am heading with this:
- Do you have a simple, up-to-date and informative online presence, including website, Facebook page where relevant, LinkedIn profile etc?
- Do you have up-to-date price lists and other sales tools that contain all the information (and images, where relevant) that a potential buyer would need to make a buying decision?
- Are your goods and services self-explanatory, and if not, does your marketing material make it very clear what you do and how you do it?
- Are all your necessary legislative and regulatory documents up to date and available as needed – including tax clearance certificates, BEE status, company registration documents, any special permits or licenses required for your industry etc.
- Is your quoting and invoicing procedure easy to understand, transparent and efficient?
- Do your phones get answered quickly and professionally?
- Do you return messages timeously?
Starting to get my drift? While none of the above is ground breaking or especially exciting from an entrepreneurial perspective, it separates the sustainable businesses with a long-standing, loyal customer base from the fly-by-nights. People vote with their feet (and their money) – if you make it difficult for them, or even worse make them feel stupid, you can kiss them goodbye as a customer.
My advice, in closing, is to do an audit of how easy it is to do business with your company. Ask a friend or two to run through your processes as a client would, and provide honest feedback on what areas need polishing up.
Where are the roadblocks and bottlenecks? What processes, especially customer-facing ones, need streamlining and reworking? In other words, how can you make it easier for your customers to do business with you?
If you get this one simple areas right consistently, the only worries you will face are what to do with all the profit you are making…
7 Pieces Of Wise Advice For Start-Up Entrepreneurs From Successful Business Owners
Launching a business is tough, but with perseverance, a willingness to learn from mistakes and a focus on the future, you can turn your dream into a reality. Seven top South Africa entrepreneurs share their hard-won start-up lessons.
“What seems like an expensive lesson is actually the best thing that could have happened to you.”
So you want to start a business? Seven successful entrepreneurs share their words of wisdom for start-up entrepreneurs
1. Offer advice and share your expertise freely
The more your clients are educated, the more empowered they will feel, and the more they will view you as a trusted advisor. I gave my clients material to help them develop the best labour policies and procedures. It didn’t make my service redundant — it built trust between us. — Arnoux Mare, Innovative Solutions Group, turnover R780 million
2. Stop planning and start doing
We all tend to complicate business with planning and processes. These shouldn’t be ignored, but you need to also just start — start your business, start that project, start walking the path you want to be on. — Gareth Leck, co-founder, Joe Public, turnover R700 million
3. Play your heart out and the money will follow
I learnt this valuable lesson when I was a student and busked at Greenmarket Square. You don’t stand with your hat, waiting for cash and then play — you play your heart out and the bills pile up in your hat. It’s the same in business. You can’t look at the bottom line first; it’s the other way around. — Pepe Marais, co-founder, Joe Public, turnover R700 million
4. Love learning lessons
What seems like an expensive lesson is actually the best thing that could have happened to you. I wasn’t paying attention to my partner or my books in our early days, and I didn’t realise the debt he was putting us into. We ended up owing R1 million. In hindsight, it was a cheap lesson to learn. Imagine if that happened today? The fallout would be much greater. We have 19 stores and nearly 100 staff members. It would hurt everyone, not just me. — Rodney Norman, founder, Chrome Supplements, turnover R100 million
5. Landing an investor starts with your story
A great story and data are the two golden rules of attracting an investor. You need both if you really want to access growth funding that will take your business to the next level. — Grant Rushmere, founder, Bos Ice Tea
6. Offer solutions
If you’re not solving a problem and creating value, don’t ship it — throw it away. That’s cheaper than selling a bad product. — Nadir Khamissa, co-founder, Hello Group
7. Small, clever decisions lead to big profits
One of the most important lessons any business owner can learn is that success on profit is nothing more than the accumulative sum of rand decisions. Lots of small, clever money decisions lead to big profits, and without the disciplines of frugality, money gets lost. It’s that simple. Question every single line item on a quote. Do we need it? Can we get it cheaper? This is what it’s about. — Vusi Thembekwayo, founder, Watermark
Here’s How Bosses From Hell Helped 6 Entrepreneurs Grow
From control freaks to being unco-operative, founders share what they learned from their worst boss.
In business, sometimes the most valuable lessons come from the worst teachers. We asked six entrepreneurs: What’s the greatest thing you learned from a bad boss?
1. Bring everyone in
“A former boss was very hierarchical and discouraged collaboration. Everyone reported directly to her, and interdepartmental meetings were practically prohibited. It meant that only our boss had the full picture – we missed a lot of opportunity for alignment and cooperation. Today at our company, it’s a priority to hold regular team meetings and foster a strong culture of collaboration. It’s crucial that our team members weave collective sharing into the fabric of their day-to-day interactions.” – Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder and CEO, Indagare
2. Be vulnerable
“Don’t be afraid to show your emotions! I worked for a partner at McKinsey who was an incredible person but an awful manager because he kept his feelings bottled up. After a client presentation went awry, our team didn’t know where we stood with our manager. It was tense, awkward and demotivating. Showing vulnerability and letting others know when you’re genuinely upset can help everyone externalise their emotions, build trust and reassure employees that they aren’t alone. It sends a clearer message than stone-faced silence.” – Leo Wang, founder and CEO, Buffy
Related: 5 Factors That Make A Great Boss
3. Lend a hand
“I worked for someone who would never help out the junior staff with their work, even if he was finished with his own – he’d simply pack up and leave early. I now make an extra effort to ask my staff if they can use a hand when my own workload is light. It’s created a culture that feels more like a tight-knit team and less like a hierarchy.” – Adam Tichauer, founder and CEO, Camp No Counselors
4. Move as a group
“When I was a nurse manager, I had a boss with no experience in healthcare. She wanted to change our process for keeping patients from getting blood clots. I knew it was a mistake, but she insisted. Ultimately, the change failed. It taught me the importance of empowering staff to speak up. At Extend Fertility, we collect feedback from customers via surveys. Results are shared with our staff, and together we develop action plans to address negative experiences. It’s the employees who interact with patients on a daily basis who have the best solutions.” – Ilaina Edison, CEO, Extend Fertility
5. Trust your team
“I once worked for a woman who joined our team after I had been working there for a while. Every time I stood up, she’d ask me where I was going, whether it was to the bathroom or to the printer. She had a fear of not having control over my time and work. As a young adult, this behaviour really demoralised me, especially since I had excelled at the job for years prior. My leadership style is less neurotic. Once my team members have my trust, I’m pretty hands-off.” – Denise Lee, founder and CEO, Alala
6. Respect others’ time
“Early in my career, I had a project manager who’d wait until the very last minute to review work, then convey lots of new information and requests. This happened at the end of the day or, worse, after hours, when I was home. It was demoralising, inefficient and disrespectful. In my career, I’m conscious about reviewing work in a timely and complete way so my team can successfully incorporate my feedback without generating a last-minute crisis – or lingering resentment.” – Kirsten R. Murray, principal architect and owner, Olson Kundig
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
11 Things Very Successful People Do That 99% Of People Don’t
Consistency is a big part of succeeding. The top 1% of performers in the world know this is the secret to their success.
Becoming wealthy and leaving an impact on the world is not an easy feat. If it were, everyone would go around doing it. At that point, it would not be much of an accomplishment at all.
Rather, being extremely successful requires an extreme amount of work. Especially when there is nobody looking. The best people have developed habits that help them reach their goals. These routines are not necessarily challenging to form, but they take consistent effort over extended periods of time. Creating these tendencies in your own life will propel your success.
Here are 11 things, that 99% of people (myself included) do not do, but really should.
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