Running a business takes grit, determination, and ambition. Throw in repetition, consistency, and an unwavering dedication to lead with your values.
Every business has its ups and downs, but knowing you’re running a business built on your passions and beliefs is what will help you overcome challenges and celebrate your wins that little bit more.
Here are four lessons for creating a business that is built to last.
01. Know your numbers
We all know the old adage ‘revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is king’. When it comes to business, these words really do ring true.
A great idea can only become a successful business if the numbers are there to support it. Numbers are what help us make the right decisions for our businesses and plan for the future.
If numbers aren't your strong suit, a good accountant can help you with the financials. When it comes to running a successful business, it's so important to have a good accounting setup in place from the start. Not only is it important from a compliance point of view, but it's also key for enabling your business to grow.
Know your numbers and you’ll know exactly where your business stands. To run a successful business, it’s vital to get to grips with accounting, bookkeeping, and cash flow. This can be as basic as keeping a spreadsheet of income and expenses, or as sophisticated as running monthly cash flow and financial forecasts.
02. Know your customer
‘A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all’ –Michael LeBoeuf
Right now, the competition is higher than ever before. For every established business, there are hundreds of nimble, agile startups doing things differently.
The trick is knowing what makes you stand out from the rest.
How does your business provide value for its customers? What makes you different from your competitors? How can you provide a better experience for customers regarding efficiency, innovation or cost?
Know your customers inside out and put them at the heart of your business and you’ll build an organisation people want to come to time and again.
When you create amazing experiences, you’ll create happy customers who become ambassadors of your brand. Customers who sing your praises and recommend your products or services to everyone they know.
Take the time to really understand who you serve, how you deliver value, and how you can continuously improve your customer experience. Increasing the value you offer will result in happier, more loyal customers, which leads to even more customers further down the line.
03. Never stop learning
‘All our knowledge grows only through the correcting of our mistakes’ –Karl Popper
Great businesses are driven by ambition, curiosity, and an eagerness to learn.
But speak to any business owner and they’re bound to tell you about the mistakes and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
It’s these mistakes and what we learn from them that define us and help us better understand our businesses.
If we don’t make mistakes, we don’t learn. Mistakes are how we come to understand the world around us and our place in it.
Instead of seeing your mistakes as failures, view them as opportunities for improvement, learning, and growth.
Mistakes are opportunities to improve and grow and do things differently from your competitors.
Growing an amazing business is all about knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes, it’s about trial and error and making mistakes that ultimately lead to better ways of doing things.
Always look for opportunities to learn, to upskill yourself and your team, to foster innovation, to improve your product and service, and to provide more value to customers.
04. Never lose sight of your vision
The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs. –Vance Havner
Too many businesses go through the motions without a clear idea of why they do what they do or what they stand for.
Lacking in purpose and direction, a business without a vision can only take you so far. People need to feel inspired and to know their work is meaningful.
All businesses exist to make money, but that's not their driving purpose. Your purpose is the change you want to make in the world. It's the problem your business is solving. It's how you're making a difference in the lives of your customers.
The businesses of tomorrow are the ones who know what they stand for. They have a clear vision and a clear story and they are on the path to building a legacy. Their customers know and love them not for the products or services they offer, but for the change they are making.
When you have clarity around your wider vision and mission, you'll be able to build a business that’s aligned with your purpose and drive it forward with ambition and intention.
With a clear understanding of your numbers, your customers, your vision, and a desire to learn, you can lay the foundations for a successful business built to last.