Here are some tips to consider before you start a business, and to help your business grow in the future. As Ringo Starr might have sung: “You’ve got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues. You know it don’t come easy!” This is a fantastic point for all of us in business to grasp.
Out there are thousands of admired businesses where some business leader has learnt the simple rules of creating not just a good operation but a great one. And he or she has committed their resolve to make it happen. That old cliché that nothing worthwhile comes easy definitely applies, but it shouldn’t stop anyone from searching for the simple rules that you hitch your business’s wagon to.
Fred DeLuca, one of the co-founders of Subway, reckons 15 key lessons explain how he created this international franchise juggernaut. Let’s have a quick look at them. I’ve sampled these from DeLuca’s book Start Small Finish Big with a comment or two:
1. Start small – This will keep the pressure of fixed costs like rent off your back and means you can learn about business on the job.
2. Get the cash coming in – Earn a few pennies and make sure you get cash into the business early. Cash is your best friend in business.
3. Be distinctive – Begin with an idea that separates you from the market and gives you a good chance of success.
4. Think like a visionary and dream big – DeLuca’s partner suggested they dream of 32 stores in 10 years. They were reaching for the stars and giving themselves motivation to work hard and smart.
5. Keep the faith – And even when early failures knock around your belief, stick to your guns but don’t be afraid to adjust your sights.
6. Ready, Fire, Aim! This one looks odd but DeLuca says thinking and planning too much can stop you “learning from doing”. (I think there has to be balance with planning and doing but some of the profoundest business lessons can’t come from books.)
7. Profit or perish – This was a lesson his accountant taught him after registering his first year of a million dollars worth of sales but also a loss of $100,000! (There is balance here as sometimes to build your name you can sacrifice profit, but make sure the cash position is comfortable. During those brand-building times, keep the profit goal foremost in your mind. It doesn’t have to happen overnight, as Rod Stewart’s ex-wife once said, but it must happen.)
8. Be positive – In business, we establish goals and we don’t know what will happen along the way to make this goal harder to kick. By being positive you eliminate one thing that can go wrong to stop the goal happening — negativity!
9. Continuously improve you business – This is a ripper and should be taken on board by everyone in business. Don’t be complacent and always seek customer feedback to ensure you’re delivering on their needs.
10. Believe in your people – This is a good one but make sure you hire the right people and train them so they can deliver. A mate of mine, Tom O’Toole, who is a very successful baker and business speaker, once told an audience that they had to train their workers. One guy complained saying “what’s the use of training people when they get up and leave?” Tom’s reply was succinct: “Imagine the opposite — you don’t train them and they stay!” Point made, I’d suggest.
11. Never run out of money – This is a basic one but a cash flow crisis is the number one reason why businesses fail. Take this as a tip — if this is your weakness and you can’t fix it, then get someone in who can!
12. Attract new customers everyday – This sounds basic but this is crucial and underlines the importance of marketing. The best tip is to listen to customers and then deliver what they tell you they want. Research is vital and the best kind comes from you asking your customers what they want. Basic, isn’t it?
13. Be persistent and don’t give up – There will be plenty of negatives along the way to success but you have to be focused on identifying problems and creating systems to KO them.
14. Build a brand name – This means people will want you for no apparent reason apart from the fact that they have been brainwashed into wanting you. (Headache pills are basically similar but in Australia we opt for Panadol because they have been the best at branding.)
15. Opportunity waits for no one – This tells you that procrastination is not a characteristic of winners in business, sport, or any of life’s endeavours.
Remember, do the work, see the results. There are more lessons that will help you make a success of building a great business but these are 15 damn good ones.
by Peter Switzer