There are many secrets that successful Entrepreneurs will not include in their books and presentations at conferences or seminars. However, if you watch them closely at work, you will be surprised that their successes can be traced to certain behaviour or actions that go unnoticed.
Some of these passive behaviours or actions are simple and can easily be learned. They are similar to the simple nuggets that Mark H. McCormack treated in his classic book entitled “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School”.
In this short piece, let us fill the gap between what experienced entrepreneurs or armchair experts told you and what they left out which came from the day-to-day experience of running a business and managing people. We believe these issues will add to your skills for handling your respective small businesses.
Your integrity can be the initial Capital for your business
Do not overestimate the value of money. A lot of people are ready to invest in you if they are convinced that you are a man or woman of integrity. With your integrity, you may be appointed a Distributor of great products by a good company. And the regular/diligent meeting of your financial obligations will continue to improve your credit rating until you have enough financial reserve to expand your business. Megachurches and mosques usually finance big projects with funds from their members who have confidence in the integrity of their General Overseer / Imam.
Honesty is the best policy in business
Keep your promises to the Stakeholders. The Stakeholders comprise of Shareholders, Customers, Staff / Management, Government and Members of the Public. Make honesty your best policy for managing these stakeholders and you will always have their support. Study honest Entrepreneurs and you will confirm the effortless ease with which they get things done.
Product Quality is Critical
The quality of your products and services must be greater than that of your Competitor to have a competitive advantage. Quality is the best advertisement that you can have. Naturally, people who believe that your products or services are the best around will be your Positive Advocates – they will spread the news beyond your imagination! It is tempting to think that low quality will increase your profit margin but it is very important to know that you can never be the market Leader with low-quality products or services. Competitors will be happy to see you at the bottom of the ladder.
Your Staff are the most important Assets to grow your Business
Let your Staff feel at home and allow them to share part of the credit for your success. Their loyalty is important if you want the business to last. Develop and empower them. The fear of staff turnover after they have been developed should not stop you from building capacity on a continuous basis. The consolation is that your business will continue to have competent people that will always keep the flag flying. Do everything possible to keep your human assets in great condition – do not allow competition to poach them.
Do not hire someone that you cannot fire.
If you conduct your recruitment on the basis of sentiment, you may hire people that you cannot fire. And that will mean carrying idle overheads that will eventually kill the business. Employing family members who are not competent to occupy a sensitive position is not a good idea. Trying to please important people like your Mentor, Senator, King, Pastor etc. by hiring on the basis of their recommendation may harm your business if they are not suitable for the jobs that you give them. It is risky but many of your friends or associates will not tell you.
Do not assume that you know it all – keep learning
Success this year does not mean that you will continue to succeed. If you are on top and you remain there for a long time, it means that the Competitors that will dethrone you are still planning, researching and experimenting or crafting their strategies in the “dark”. If you stop learning and innovating, you will wake up one day and find that the market is flooded with better products or services to displace you.
Keep an eye on the Trend within your Industry
If changes are taking place around you and you ignore it, you will soon be out of business because the end of your era will just come. Customers, Consultants, Business Leaders, Friends, and Well wisher will continue to discuss new trends in low tones near you hoping you will pick it up and do something about it. In some cases, Competitors will also openly launch products or services to meet the new trend. Do not ignore those signs – because no one will tell you with a specially designed loud voice or fanfare!
Treat every Customer well even if he or she does not deserve it
Resolve conflicts and objections in their favor when their complaints and objections are genuine and offer restitution where the action of your staff leads to loss of Customers’ funds. Your Customers will remember the gesture and compensate you with loyalty and future patronage.
Do not go public with your secret ingredients i.e. what set you apart from Competitors.
Your Competitors will be interested in knowing your corporate secrets. And the media can draw you out to give the information especially during your “unguarded moments” or during radio or television interview. It is important to know what you can make public or what you should keep. Your product formula or ingredients should be kept as Coca-cola has kept theirs for centuries.
Fix reasonable, affordable price for your products or services. Your competitors will capitalize on the dissatisfaction of your Customers if you price your products or services beyond their reach. Always control or discipline yourself whenever the urge to capitalize on your good products or services to increase the price. Ensure that the price increase is based on your standard template i.e. cost + overhead + policy margin which you have moderately established. Un-arbitrary pricing is not a good idea.