Seven Tips to Grow Your Business in 2019
Published in the Australian Financial Review – 21st December 2018 …
If you want a different result next year from this year, do something different. Get a start over the holidays by using the following seven tips.
Why do people go on and on about setting goals and targets, what’s their value? When do you set them and how do you review? And then what do you do with them?
Working with founders and principals, one of the recurring attributes most of them have is an amazing faith in their gut instinct. This gives them the confidence to fly through the first hurdle of a start-up and takes them through the immediate whirlwind of reactive business growth.
Use the break to revisit your goals and targets.
But what happens next? This is a great time of year to reflect on your achievements, revisit your plan and recognise the wins and losses for you and your business.
The simplest way to do that is to consider your business plan for the next year. Take Sarah* who was pleased with her business but in the previous year it had plateaued – she knew there was growth but couldn’t work out how to maximise the potential.
When we met, she was frustrated and annoyed with herself for (as she saw it) lacking the personal and professional commitment to the business. Once we’d discussed that there are more pieces to the puzzle to ensuring that the whole team understood the new plan, the next stage was to ensure that they were behind it. An engaged and focused team is essential.
Sarah runs a company with 20 staff. We’ve worked to continue consolidating the business to ensure that she has autonomy and perspective to allow the team to advance to the next level. We’ve increased the work “on the business” (strategy and direction) and embedded accountability throughout the culture.
We’ve worked through the stages of accountability and reprioritised as necessary. Plans can be changed but agreement by everyone involved in the plan is needed before any amendments are made.
The best way to do this is by setting a clearly defined structure of meetings. It’s worth using the following seven tips for effective meetings:
- Define the purpose of the meeting: if it’s for management, set an hour; if it’s a team update, set it for half an hour more regularly or a 10-minute daily work in progress.
- Set the meetings in advance at the same time.
- Include an agenda (no one should ever accept a meeting invitation without knowing why it’s occurring).
- Start with a topline of good news, follow up with numbers, strategy, accountability and help required.
- To sum up, ask everyone to commit to their reporting for the next meeting.
- Keep a record. It doesn’t need to be full minutes, just a “meeting book” where notes are taken each time by a different person. Always start with reviewing the actions from the previous meeting.
- Continue, be consistent. A regular meeting should become an essential part of the business rhythm. Leading this meeting well encourages leadership within the team, as well as an opportunity to share enthusiasm, check in with your team and identify who is struggling.
Once you’ve established the “what”, it’s time to review the “how”.
As Sarah demonstrates, it’s easy when you know how. Now your team knows what is required of them but how do they, in turn, get their teams to do what is required?
Managers often have their own challenges once they’ve taken on a new job. Where are they being guided or coached and who do they ask for help?
Benefits of Training
In Verne Harnish’s book Scaling Up, he talks about the benefits of training your staff to be the best. “Worried about spending all that money on training only to watch your people go elsewhere? The research definitely shows that training and development increases loyalty,” he writes.
Keep a record. It doesn’t need to be full minutes, just a “meeting book” will do.
Harnish recommends spending two to three per cent of your payroll on training and coaching. Focus first on your middle management, he adds, as they have the hardest jobs and are critical to employee engagement and retention.
This is supported by US business executive and author Jack Welch and extensive research by Laurie Bassi, co-author of Good Company.
The previously mentioned tips can be used again here. Set regular one-on-one coaching sessions with managers to review individual KPIs, discuss performance and consider strategies to improve accountability and guidance in the team. Your managers can learn in these sessions, and they’re seeing how important communication is and they should then work to implement the same systems across their staff.
Sarah has implemented these coaching meetings with her team and in a couple of instances she’s employed external coaches to advise and support, which is broadening her reach with the same message while realistically managing her time commitments. Making strategic decisions on external or internal coaching, and who needs what, can be done through discussion with your own coach, mentor or advisory board.
In essence, if you want different results, employ different strategies. Use simple, time-lined infrastructure with a consistent agenda and empower the people with whom you work to be accountable for their actions. This results in an engaged team, working towards the same goals with effective timelines providing more successful outcomes and better staff retention, which makes your job easier in the long run.
Reflecting on your year in December 2019 will be much more satisfying.
*Not her real name.