Welcome to a series of articles all about business growth. Over the last year or so we have all been focused on Covid-19 and the challenges to be faced over the years ahead. It has not been a particularly happy time for many. While some businesses have had to close or reduce staff, many have kept going and there are new ones starting most weeks.
This series is all about the future and the optimism that comes with growth. Let us remember that starting and growing a business is as much about the innovation, drive and determination of the people who do it as it is about the products or services they sell.
Last week I looked at the need to drop everything for the customer – today the focus is on the need to be better organised and put in place efficient systems such as financial accounting software and other systems that can free you up to do other things. This is particularly important as the economy develops and you get busier.
Good organising is not about changing your personality – just your habits!
Here are a few habits to think about adopting as you grow your business.
Every week, review what worked and went well. Involve your team in this activity and remember to praise everyone for their efforts.
At the same time recognise what didn’t work and try to think about the reasons. What could you do differently next time to get a better result?
You will never be well organised unless you learn to plan well. Remember that failing to plan results in planning to fail! There will be more on this topic in my next article.
Think ahead, anticipate problems and get involved in problem solving. Two heads are always better than one so get your team involved as well. Whenever you are trying to solve a problem, spend time thinking about it and exploring different possible solutions before going to action. Think ahead and ask yourself, ‘what will success look like; how will I feel when this problem is solved’. Then you have something to aim for – a compelling reason to get the problem solved!
Write things down, prioritise and then do one thing at a time. Starting the week or even each day with a list of things to do that day is a great idea. Give all your staff notebooks or other devices and help them do the same. That way, the whole team can get organised. At the end of the day have a quick look back at what has been achieved.
Make sure that everyone on your team, including yourself, knows what to do and what your exact roles are. Boundaries need to be clear and, as the leader, you should use delegation as a way to help others learn and improve. Up-to-date role or job descriptions are a good tool to use.
Ask questions and agree with your team the key habits you all need to make your business be the best it can be. Commit to continuous improvement – never stop learning. Write the habits somewhere where you can all see them, every day.
Finally, work smarter not harder. If there are systems that can help such as cloud based financial management systems or other ways of managing stock or customers, then think about using them. Find someone to show you how they could help you. Talk with other people who run small businesses and find out what works for them.
Be careful not to create an illusion of being organised. You can work long hours and spend all your time running round in circles getting nowhere. Everyday you need to feel you are making progress even if it is one tiny step. This will make you feel good and keep you motivated to take further steps.
Don’t be busy, be productive.
I look forward to hearing your experiences about being well organised and productive.
If your business is to grow, your planning will need to be dynamic and active and geared towards growth. A business plan written 12 months ago is unlikely to be of any use as you move forward on a new path. And of course, you will still need to plan for the unexpected – to be as resilient as you can be. This is my focus for next week.
As always, please contact me if you have an interesting story to tell and are happy for it to be told.
Breadfruit Consulting (www.breadfruitconsulting.com) is a Vanuatu-based business providing advice, training, coaching, and mentoring to businesses throughout the Pacific islands. Breadfruit specialises in a range of business development activities including ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis, designing and starting new, sustainable businesses. Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Founding partner at Breadfruit Consulting.