21 principles for building your business skills

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21 principles for building your business skills

We all need to remind ourselves of these principles from time to time. In my experience as a business owner, a CEO, mentor and business consultant, they have universal application.

Of course, you can live without following all of them, but your business and your life will be better if you do….

  1. Have a vision – see where you want to go and be very clear about it.  The clearer your vision the more likely you’ll get there.
  2. Do your homework.  Understanding your competitors is critical, and more importantly, their customers.  Know what’s happening in the market and what the trends are.
  3. When forecasting, build your model, then assume double the costs and half the revenue, and work from there.
  4. Select your team.  Don’t do it on your own.  Make sure you have a reliable and competent support team around you to complement your own skills and expertise.
  5. Be objective.  Don’t get too emotionally tied to your business or your product.  Don’t let emotion cloud your judgement or perspective.
  6. Marketing is powerful.  Use it to build your business, grow your reputation in the market, establish or reinforce your market position, attract clients, suppliers, partners or potential investors.
  7. Good business mentors are invaluable, but select them wisely.  Your relationship with your mentor is one of mutual respect, trust and contribution.
  8. Organise an overdraft facility when you don’t need one.  If you wait until you do, you won’t be able to get it.
  9. Watch your cashflow.  Spend less, earn more and don’t ignore your finances.  Lack of attention to financial reporting has destroyed many companies large and small.
  10. Manage your business like an outsider.  If you really want to work ‘on’ the business rather than ‘in’ it, approach it like the owner has brought you in to run it.  Your focus will change and you will become braver about what you do.
  11. Have a plan to guide you, but focus on the actions required to achieve your strategies.  A plan without any actions will remain a statement of intent, rather than forward movement.
  12. Analyse your products and services.  Identify where you make your money, and do more of that.  Make sure you have a ‘cash cow’ product that is in demand and makes you money.  If you don’t have one, then look at ways to develop such a product.  When you need to, withdraw products from the market if they don’t sell.  Don’t invest in marketing, selling or development for ‘dogs’ of products.
  13. Put systems in place.  Document your core processes and procedures.  This will make it easier to run your business, easier for new employees to get up and running faster, and will make your business more valuable and attractive to investors if it is well managed.
  14. Treat your people well.  They need direction, a sense of belonging, to share in the wins, to see and believe in the vision for the future, and your support when required.  They also like to have fun and be part of a winning team.
  15. Be professional at all times.  If you are a small firm wanting to grow into a big company, then act like a big company from day one.  If you are a big company, don’t let your professionalism and service slide.
  16. Innovate.  This is important for all businesses.  Ask how you could do something differently to make your customers happier, take less time, be better than your competitors, offer something new and exciting, add more value to your customers, develop a more effective business model.  If you do, you will undoubtedly make more money.
  17. Know your priorities and stick to them.  Don’t waste time on activities that add little value to achievement of your goals.
  18. Enjoy what you do!  Be passionate and excited about what you do, as this will give you the energy you need to be successful.
  19. Don’t burn bridges, unless you know you’ll never want to go there again.
  20. Be open to learn from those around you.  No-one is an expert in everything.
  21. Always act with integrity.  It is who you are, and it will always guide you in the right direction if you adhere to it.
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