I’m writing this message while at a U.S. Navy conference in San Diego focused on how small businesses can work with the Federal government. During the first day of the conference I had the very good fortune to talk with the founders and leaders of three companies that have been hugely successful, not just as government contactors but as good business people. All have realized significant growth the past few years and they shared with me their secrets to success. Here they are:
1) Create a plan, your business plan, and make sure it is a dynamic, living, breathing document that doesn’t just sit on the shelf collecting dust. Make it as simple as possible but with specific, measurable goals that are achievable. For example, if your company’s annual revenue today is, say, $2M then setting a goal of $100M next year or even in five years is probably not achievable. Then share it with your managers so that everyone in the company knows what you are working towards. Get everybody onboard.
2) Focus on revenue. Without revenue you won’t have money to invest in the systems, processes and people you need to grow. Listen to your customers and provide the products and services they want and need, NOT what you think they should want or need. Be relentless in uncovering clues as to what your customers and/or the market will need in the future. The more lead time you can give yourself, the more opportunity you will have to get there first. Keep in mind that the best source of this kind of info often comes from the people who actually use your product or service. Listen to them. Don’t be afraid to consider new markets, customers, services & products. And keep in mind that revenue is a measure of growth, not a measure of success.
3) Hire good employees then learn to delegate. This is very difficult for entrepreneurs but, if you don’t delegate you will reach a limit to your growth. Hiring good people is a continuous process. Once they are on-board your next challenge is to keep them. I can help you with that.
4) Be willing to take risks with employees, teams, developing new products, markets or customers.
5) Be patient. Stick to you plan and keep it up to date. It takes time for plans to gain traction and it takes time to develop achievable revenue targets. Employees need time to settle into their roles and a company’s tolerance to risk needs to evolve.
6) Finally, continually develop your relationships with your employees, customers, vendors, banks, lenders and factors, etc. Building solid relationships may be the most critical key to success.
I was anxious to share these tips with you. Hope you like them.