I had a personal retreat yesterday. I periodically do that to evaluate my life and monitor progress. While taking a look at my businesses and projects, I began to ask myself if any of them is on the path to greatness. Then I remembered James C. Collins’ book, Good to Great.
Even though I did not have access to Jim Collin’s Good to Great at that time, I wrote down a few things which I know will definitely put us on that path if we practice them long enough. I immediately sent them to my team members via WhatsApp. Some of them we are great at already. But we have been slacking in a number of them too.
I had a meeting with my team this morning. During the meeting, we made a decision to start implementing the things I sent via WhatsApp yesterday. And we also put a process in place for each of them. After the meeting, I decided that it will be great to share some of these things with you. After all, if more businesspeople are conscious of moving their businesses from good to great, unemployment will drastically reduce and the world will be a better place for us all.
Let us now dive right into this.
Quick Good to Great Habits for Business Success
- Respond to enquiries quickly
- Do the right thing the first time
- Hire the best
- Put People Development on Auto
- Give customers a great time
- Innovate Constantly
- Listen to stakeholders, including staff
- Be process driven
- Maintain consistency
- Fire when the need arises
Let us now study these one after the other.
Respond to enquiries quickly
The reason we are in business is the customer. And customers want to get answers FAST. I have noticed that those enquiries we respond to within 20 minutes always end up with money in the bank. I have also noticed that the longer it takes to answer enquiries, the less likely the enquiries will result in a money exchange.
Do the right thing the first time
Failing to do the right thing the first time is not only expensive, it can lead to loss of credibility. In project management, it can lead to rework and lost business. It pays to have all the needed information before doing something sensitive. And it is also important to give it the required time – time to do it right!
Hire the best
In Jack Welch’s book, Straight from the Gut, the writer said Jack Welch was successful as General’s boss because he was always on the look out for talent. John Byrne said that Jack could hire people he met in places like restaurants and so on. I have also started behaving like this. Jim Collins said in his Good to Great book that it pays to get the right people on the bus and then the whole team decides where the bus should go. The best talent is needed for this.
Put People Development on Auto
Developing people is one of the duties of a businessperson. If you do not develop them, they won’t give you their best, even if they want to. Have a system in place that ensures that you and your staff are getting developed periodically. A number of my clients have adopted the “Book of the Month” strategy and they report its working for them.
Give Customers a Great Time
People will always go back to an experience they enjoy. Giving customers a great time means that you are ready to go out of your way to help them and communicate with them while they are waiting. The waiting time should be made as enjoyable as possible. For us, whenever a customer is waiting in our reception, we play a soothing instrumentals. I always prefer Yanni Voices videos. Note that giving customers a great time is more than music. Find what works.
I am now at a stage in my businesses where I do not do much of hands on work. I am always asking myself what it is we can do better in operations. This results in constant innovative changes. The competition calls every now and then to fish for what we are doing to beat them. Therefore, we have to keep putting things in place to be ahead of them. Constant innovation is definitely a good to great culture.
Listen to all Stakeholders
Anyone who will be affected by the success or failure of your business is your stakeholder. Listen to them. The fact that you were able to start a business and employ people does not mean that the people you have employed will not sometimes have a better opinion than you. Listen to them. Let the best opinion win, always. Again, listen to your customers. They are the reason we are in business.
Be Process driven
Structures and processes make a seemingly difficult task simple. Well structured organizations have Standard Operative Procedures (SOPs) that they work with. Set up a system for attending to customers, a system for acquiring new customers,… a system for everything. Let there be a system or process in place that helps everybody to know what to do and how to go about it. Let it all be documented and available to authorized personnel.
It is difficult to maintain consistency in small and medium scale businesses. But it is what moves a firm from good to great. Have a meeting with your team and discuss those areas in which you need to enforce consistency. This is why food and chemical companies have formularized their recipes. In that way, the food companies can maintain consistency in their tastes. Push for this as well, whether you sell food or not.
Fire when the need arises
In the past, I have made the mistake of allowing sentiments win the day at times when it was obvious that I should fire someone. Guess what! Within a short time, the consequences of not letting the person go at the right time come back at me. It is important to let a person go as soon as it is deemed they do not fit the mix anymore. For me, a staff who is rude to my customers has committed a “high sin” and must go. Fire when the need arises.