Seven Success Principles that Differentiate GREAT Businesses from Mediocre Ones
We have worked with many business owners & entrepreneurs over the last couple of years, and we realized that there were a few differences between entrepreneurs that were very successful, and those that were not. However, I realized that there were many (many more) entrepreneurs that were just surviving. Now, in my opinion, this average mediocrity could be worse than failing. Why? When we fail, we learn a ton of new things, that we really can’t Google or learn in books. When we just “survive” or “exist”, there is really nothing that propels us forward, and we make enough to pay some bills, and maybe make some average income.
I wrote this piece to guide entrepreneurs how to stop running the average business. How do you play at a different level of your business, that high-achiever CEOs know how to play at? What is the difference between the average business, and the successful one? MINDSET. The person running the business.
This piece is designed to help you think differently around the business. When you think differently, the actions and decisions you take, will also change (almost instantaneously)! As a business advisor and growth specialist, I wrote this piece based on 3 years of research across all the businesses we have coached, and the strategies we have successfully deployed with each of them and have boiled them down to 9 key success principles that successful businesses have. Here they are…
#1 : They had a Product Strategy, that tied closely with Sales & Conversion
Most entrepreneurs are stuck with products that require a long time to close, i.e. long gestation period. Their product or service is taking too long to convert, because its too complicated, not packaged properly, or requires way too much customization. Meanwhile, bills need to be paid, while revenues take too many steps to convert. The key here is to design your products & services menu that have different lengths of conversion, and easy marketability.
#2 : Maximising Low-Hanging Sales, before Top-Branched Lead Generation
I will put it out there – Lead generation is an expensive affair, and you really need to know what you are doing. If you don’t, you will be burning cash, without sufficient return. Average businesses keep marketing, and throwing money without all its other “cheaper” revenue generators. Across many different industries, we have boiled revenue generating strategies down to 4 parts: (1) Lead Generation, (2) Conversion Rate, (3) Average Dollar Sale, and (4) Repeat Business.
When I researched successful businesses, they each had at least 1 of the 4 going for them, and they knew how to maximize revenue generation, without throwing all their eggs into the Lead Generation basket.
#3 : Building Marketing Campaigns that are Profitable
Businesses stand to lose a lot of money from poor marketing. Why? Because many entrepreneurs have a poor understanding of how marketing works. On top of that, there are too many tools out there, from digital to offline, and we cannot possibly forecast how much we are going to make from marketing campaigns that we invest in. When we ask business owners as well, many of them cannot be SURE even, if their marketing generates a positive return for them. And this is the difference between mediocre and successful traits of businesses. Successful businesses have enough data, and pay enough attention to ring-fencing the data, so that they know exactly what they are getting out of a certain campaign.
#4 : Building an Actionable Business Plan, not ones for Investors
There is a difference between a business plan that is actionable, versus a business plan that is detailed and has plenty of information. But a plan that looks like a book is hard to track, and monitor. An actionable business plan should also be one that can easily be delegated to your managers or employees. If you pass your high-level business plan to your employees, and they have no idea what to do with it, then it is useless.
Also, having a business plan early in the year, and then tucking it aside in your drawer, does not make sense as well. Once you have a plan, there needs to be quarterly and monthly reviews, to ensure that growth is still on track. Having a proper and clear business plan is only one-half of the equation.
#5 : Employees are a Significant Part of Building the Business, and not just doing their jobs
Building the business is a shared responsibility. But most of the time, the entrepreneurs seem more driven and excited about it than the employees. There is something wrong here. If your employees don’t seem as excited as you want them to be, I am going to be blunt here, but there are a few possibilities:
A – they don’t know where you are going
B – they don’t know how they can contribute to your overall goal
C – afraid of making mistakes, and being scolded
D – tried being proactive but was put down
E – they are just not motivated toward growing the business
How do we engage our employees toward the goals of your organization? Employees are our greatest asset, and it is much easier going “there” together, than going there alone. But you need to lead them, and there are many ways you can have a nicer journey with great people to do this with.
#6 : Systematization is more than just a cure for Repeated Mistakes… but for an Increase in Customer Capacity
When we systematize to solve a current problem, we have to be wary if the system will continue to serve us in the future. Questions I always ask entrepreneurs in developing new systems or creating new procedures, or investing in new systems and software – “How much more will our customer capacity increase, when we implement this?”. Most leaders are forced to systematize, because there’s a problem to solve, and they can’t wait to get rid of the problem. While you do that, make sure you have a long-term view as well, not just a short-term one.
#7 : Entrepreneurs behind the Business Actually Value Time, and Know how to Manage Time Well
Brutally saying, time is our only asset. Not your customers, network, product, or etc. If we dont manage our time well, we cannot build the rest of the necessary resources to grow the business. Time management is LIFE management, and for the entrepreneur, we can work pretty much anytime, but we are integrating the business into our lives. This means that I must first determine the life I want, and then work a business that works for my life. Not the other way around.
Some people determine the business that they want. But they don’t ask themselves, what kind of life they are prepared to have, and they end up with the lowest pay, working the most number of hours in their very own company! Being in business is about having more life, not less. So start checking in with yourself, and ask yourself, if you have built a business that is giving you more, or “taking” more.
Maresa Ng is a Passionate Entrepreneur, Speaker and Business Advisor who helps business owners grow their business to a stage where it is commercial, profitable, and can continue to work without them. Her past as a corporate and investment banker had set a foundation for her in working with both SMEs and large businesses. As the leading Business Growth Specialist & Business Advisor in South East Asia, she dedicates herself to working with entrepreneurs all over the region, to build a Great Business and a Great Life.