We hear countless reasons for small business failure: lack of a business plan, failure to create an offering that people will pay for, failure to identify a viable market, cash flow, etc. All of these reasons are valid. Yet each of these reasons leaves out a critical driver and root cause of either success or failure. Building an organization and culture that is nimble, outcome focused, and proactive is a key reason for both success and failure.
As an introduction into building successful business organizations, I’ll describe a number of characteristics that leading organizations exhibit.
Imagine the Unimaginable. Creativity is a key asset of any business. If you foster free thinking within your workforce and brainstorming sessions, unexpected solutions and ideas will become commonplace and you’ll become greater than the sum of your people. Creativity frees us from trying to create solutions in the same way that we’ve always tried in the past and encourages out-of-the-box thinking. A creative organization will continuously improve and this also helps the business stay nimble, proactive, and fresh.
Pepare, don’t plan. While planning is important and causes you to set goals and consider the path and obstacles on the way to the goals, plans quickly become obsolete. You need to have your workforce trained to adapt to changing situations, unexpected reactions from competitors, changing cost models, etc. Be putting for the effort to have a workforce that can easily adapt to these new situations, they’ll keep their focus on the goal while negotiating the obstacles with aplomb.
The only failure is a failure to try. Encourage people to take chances and try new ways of doing business. Don’t shut down your employees creativity and only allow a few people to suggest ideas or make recommendations. You’ll be amazed by the creativity of your workforce if you reinforce their ability to fail. Let them make mistakes and then evaluate them to help them become even better problem-solvers in the future. To do this effectively, you need to establish resources and constraints and have clear authority and responsibility chains.
Listen to you employees. Use their experience, expertise, and creativity to help you solve your business problems, craft new offerings, and creating plans to realize your goals. Don’t isolate your decision-making and information gathering to a few leaders and specialists. Rather, use the combined power of your workforce to craft the best solutions and avoid problems early rather than when the cause problems and cost money.
Get out of the building. Go out and interact with your clients, prospective customers, visit your suppliers, check out your sales channels, etc. You can monitor a business with numbers and reports, but you can’t gain true insight unless you augment such information with actual experience with people. This knowledge will help you brainstorm and come up with new solutions ahead of your competitors.
There is no magic potion for creating a great culture. It takes work and a thoughtful approach. You must define the type of culture you want and then, starting with your mission and value statements, takes constant and congruent steps to implement the culture. You’ll be amazed at how productive and enjoyable your workforce will become and you’ll all share the common goals of meeting your company goals.
M.K. Nelson, who has been an entrepreneur and strategy coach & consultant for over 20 years, has written a practical strategy guide on the best small business ideas. For a limited period you can get a free guide by visiting his small business resource library and also get tips to help make your business the most profitable small business it can be.