Much has been published on living a purpose-driven life, and many business leaders try to apply the same philosophy in business. The concept of purpose is however a bit different when we think about it in terms of business.
MYTH 1: Business purpose can be found
The purpose of a business doesn’t ‘magically’ reveal itself. In business, the owners of the business – whether sole owner, partners or shareholders – must simply decide whether the overarching purpose of the business is to grow it, or to sell it, as running a business to achieve sustained profitable growth is quite different from running a business to secure the highest possible sales price.
If the owners of a business decide that they want to grow the business, then they have to make sure that every decision in the business allows it to take a step towards that purpose, not away from it.
MYTH 2: Business purpose is only for certain types of companies
Maintaining a business might appear to be a third option, but even a so-called ‘lifestyle business’ needs to achieve sustained profitable growth to prevent its inevitable end caused by rising inflation, rapid changes to market conditions, unforeseen losses and so on.
Organisations operating for a social cause rather than for profit generation are also not exempt from being clear on their purpose. Most of these businesses will never have the overarching purpose of being sold, so they have to then make decisions on the three aspects of a sustainable business: financial, social, and brand impact.
While the social purpose might be obvious in a non-profit organisation, the focus on financial growth – and the effect of brand impact on that growth – needed to achieve that purpose is often lacking.
The question every owner of every business – irrespective of size or sector – should ask themselves is: If I don’t know where this business is going, how will I know if it is veering off course?
MYTH 3: Business purpose is static
As the purpose of a business can only be decided by its owners, a change in ownership often triggers a change in purpose. Whether through merger, acquisition, or handing over the ownership reins to the next generation, a shift in purpose that is not crystal clear to the owners will result in muddled efforts by everyone employed in the business.
If you are a business owner that employs someone to run the business for you, make sure that they understand your purpose for the business and that they are capable and equipped to achieve it.
If you are the one who’s employed by the owners to run the business, are you running based on your assumption of what the purpose should be, or have you checked with the owners what their purpose for the business is?
Until someone creates a way to accurately predict the future, there is no way to prepare your business for every change that will come its way. Whether it is a pandemic that changes the economic outlook, societal trends that change consumption patterns, or machinery or infrastructure that breaks down, change is truly inevitable.
The key to thriving within and beyond disruption is not resistance, it is robustness.
To move beyond a fixation on how disrupting disruption is, everyone running – or involved in running – a business of any size in any sector must be skilled in building robustness into the business so that it can adapt quickly and smoothly to the prevailing conditions of the day. A truly robust business doesn’t just survive the punches dealt by exponential change; it is set up to keep on winning in a new game of business.
Win by being exceptional
It is simply not good enough to be good enough anymore. What was successful fifty years ago might not be enough to even stay afloat now. These days, a business has to be better than market average in everything it does and everywhere its clients connect with it.
Products and services that exceed client expectations, and a buying process that is frictionless, combined with a unique and memorable customer experience is not aspirational anymore; it is now a necessity. And so is using technology to consistently achieve that standard.
The need to constantly assimilate, adapt, and adopt innovative technology and processes across all departments in a business is greater than ever before. Irrespective of the size or available resources of a business, as many people as possible should constantly be on the hunt for different ways to do things towards achieving better results.
Yes, as many as possible people across the entire operation. If this thought scares you, maybe you should consider whether you have nines and tens – the best of the best – in your teams. Employees who score nine and ten out of ten aren’t always the most experienced or the most expensive; they are simply those best suited to the unique requirements of your business. Employing the best of the best is crucial if you want everything your business does to be exceptional.
Win by being a great place to work and play
For business owners or leaders who do not employ only nines and tens, the thought of giving employees what they want can be frightening. But even average employees could be more willing to give their best all the time if they:
Get the right people into your business, and then do everything you can to make them want to stay there.
Win by always prospecting for new clients
Irrespective of how long your business has been around or how much market share it currently enjoys, it’s dangerous to rely solely on existing customers! The rule for whoever is responsible for selling – yes, even if it is the business owner – is that they should spend at least 20% of their time prospecting for NEW clients. And that should never ever stop.
A robust business has a robust pipeline of opportunities and orders to fill. Never let your salespeople – or yourself – tell you that there aren’t any more clients available to sell to. If you’ve knocked on the door of every single potential client in one market, then start selling to the next market! The golden rule of sales is to sell to people who have money, and to remember that money has a tendency to move.
Be bold and explore new locations to target or new clients needs to fulfil.
Win by having everyone focused on the bottom line
Too many business owners or leaders see the growth of the business as their sole responsibility. However, while they will be held accountable for it, they have every right to share the responsibility throughout the business.
Everyone in the business – yes, everyone – can set a growth target to achieve. From reduction in expenses to increase in number of prospects to better customer service; it’s all possible! Set targets, enable your people to achieve those targets, and you might be pleasantly surprised by what they – and the business – achieve!
These are the most exciting times in which to run a business. There are endless opportunities to overcome challenges, but only if you decide to lead your business with belief, passion and courage.
You might be setting up your employees for failure through:
- poorly communicated expectations (don't expect employees to read your mind or translate the thoughts relayed in your few hurried words)
- lack of feedback (don't expect employees to make improvements if you haven't shown them what is wrong as well as why and how it must be different)
- too much red tape (keep compliance and admin activities to a minimum to create more time and energy for doing a good job)
- lack of planning and/or prioritising (don't expect high quality work and employee wellbeing if you're in the habit of consistently piling on last-minute ideas/demands without understanding the ripple effect it may have on the quality or timing of other projects)
Great leaders know how to change their own communication style to increase understanding and motivation.
Great leaders know that there is a time to pressure and a time to let be.
Great leaders know when to discipline and when to coach.
Great leaders know how their decisions will affect a team/project/organisation and they take responsibility for managing the impact of those decisions.
What can you change about your actions as a leader that will set your employees up to win?
In business, effort and sacrifices only hold value if they produce results that others are willing to pay for.
Are you building busyness, or are you building a business? And what about the people you pay to help you build the business? Is everyone in your business doing what they are supposed to be doing and how they're supposed to be doing it? If not, it might be because of:
- lack of understanding
(suggestion: play around with different communication styles and formats until you find something that helps them to get to the necessary a-hah moment)
- lack of capability
(suggestion: find training material and a training format that will help them to bridge the skills gap)
- lack of shared purpose and values
(suggestion: increasing regulation/compliance/systems rarely work ... rather emphasise the purpose, vision and values of the business regularly and have genuine two-way conversations about how each person sees their role contributing towards it)
Yes, leading people takes time and effort.
Yes, it's an ongoing responsibility as the business and people in it evolve.
Yes, the suggestions only work if you have 9s and 10s working in the business. If lack of will/caring to align with requirements is a persistent attitude, my only suggestion is to start the process of terminating employment.
People make or break a business. I've learned hard, expensive lessons with "breakers", and am incredibly grateful to now experience the ease of working with "makers".
When business gets tough (as it often does) we have a choice: worry about the tough things, or work at making the tough things better.
The first piece of business advice I can remember is "if you want to ride the highs, you've got to be able to ride the lows".
Choose how you spend your energy!
The recipe for business success is simple ... even if it isn't easy.
In business, effort and sacrifices only hold value if they produce results that others are willing to pay for.
Are you building busyness, or are you building a business? And what about the people you pay to help you build the business? Is everyone doing what they're supposed to be doing and in the way they're supposed to be doing it?
When last have you reviewed the proposal and pitch structure and content you (or your sales team) use?
It's easy to habitually use an existing template that ticks all the information boxes, but what about the influence factor?
Yes, a prospective client wants to gauge credibility, but more than that they want to know how well you understand their problem and how you're going to solve it better than anyone else.
LISTEN AT: https://www.ofm.co.za/article/business/304970/-ofmbusinesshour-read-of-week-finding-top-talent-cannot-be-left-to-hr-alone-
The poor Comfort Zone. It's been getting a bad rap for years!
Popular activities for team-building include exercises to help teams think outside the box, workshops that force us outside our comfort zones, seminars are designed to inspire attendees to embrace discomfort in the name of personal growth ... the list goes on.
As with every story, there is more than one side to the tale of the Comfort Zone.
In the zone
When inside a comfort zone, the flight or fight response is significantly reduced, and therefore people can think and act with clear minds and passion in their hearts, because situations aren't clouded with anxiety or fear.
Inside a comfort zone, a person can use all of their energy to be the best version of who they truly are, instead of a mediocre version of what theories and popular culture seems to demand.
The result of this best version of a confident, relaxed and authentic person is an environment where high performance comes very naturally.
For purposes of growth and balance, it is necessary for everyone to move to a place of discomfort every now and then, with the focus on "every now and then".
When exposure to experiences outside ones comfort zone occurs in an environment where time and risk can be managed, and expectations are proactively communicated, the experiences can lead to high learning, which is why pushing the boundaries of ones comfort zone is so popular.
Very simply, my point is this:
Bringing learnings from outside of the comfort zone together with high performance inside of the comfort zone makes for authentic personal and professional growth.
No workshops, no seminars, no exercises necessary.
Imagine if all workplaces had the privilege of ensuring during the recruitment stage to select team members with a perfectly balanced team of strength profiles that accommodate the weaknesses of others. A team that moves comfortably in and between a variety of comfortable skill sets, sensitivity levels, and life experiences.
Imagine if leaders had the skills to guide their teams on the weaving journey between high performance and new experiences.
Imagine if we all had the confidence to feel comfortable with feeling comfortable, and not fear the discomfort that goes hand in hand with growth.
With the MASSIVE changes that struck business in recent years, it is incredibly important that business leaders learn to be comfortable - and teach their people to be comfortable - with moving in and out of comfort zones. It is one of the most important skills needed to WIN! in the new game of business.