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Ideas for Your Business

Trial and success

It sometimes feels like we live in a society where winning is everything. Of course the drive for success can be a most powerful force for achieving excellence and for constant improvement - nothing wrong with that.

On the other hand we can sometimes feel, in order to avoid being considered "a loser", that we must avoid failing at any cost. This in turn can cause us to constantly play it safe.

But getting things wrong is not automatically a bad thing. Trying out new ideas to see if they work is often the only way to find out what works and what doesn't. A constant process of testing new ideas, seeing what works and refining your approach is key to building your knowledge and experience as well as developing your business.

Some might call this "trial and error". I prefer "Trial and Success"... if you think about it there's really no error involved - it's just all part of a gradual process for learning and getting better.

The power of combination

If you were to introduce just one effective technique for your business, over time you could benefit hugely in terms of increased profit and time saved.

But what if you came up with another technique that works with and reinforces the one you've already introduced? What you've got now is the combined power of two effective techniques and as a result your ability to achieve increased business success is substantially improved.

If this sounds encouraging consider what could be achieved if you could employ 10 or even 20 different tools and techniques in your business, all of which in some way overlap and work-together, in harmony, to help you achieve your goals - how powerful would that be?

But wait, this is not some figment of someone's imagination, many successful businesses already achieve exactly this and so can you. By gradually building a set of consistent techniques that have been tried and tested and are known to work for your business, your goals can become nothing more than a natural consequence of the actions you take.

Hard work is not enough

It goes without saying that you can never hope to achieve much with your business without a huge amount of hard graft. On the other hand hard-work alone is never going to be enough to assure success: your efforts need to be well-directed.

What's more if you wish for things to get better in your business you'll need to change your way of working. But this can't happen if you're only concentrating your efforts entirely on the day-to-day routines.

Mark Twain once famously observed: "If you always do what you've always done you'll always get what you always got". It's true isn't it? If you wish to improve something in your business you'll need to make changes and that means stepping outside your normal routines and trying something new.

If you want to strengthen and improve your business you'll need to direct some of your hard work at setting out a new course and trying out some different ideas.

Dipping your toe

Successive UK governments have rarely shied-away from taking on ambitious projects and history has recorded many abject failures as a result: causing huge sums of money to be wasted and a great deal of public embarrassment for those involved.

Much of this cost could've been avoided however. Indeed, in spite of the fact that such projects are, by their very nature, aimed for the benefit of the whole country, it is often not necessary to make your mistakes on a national scale.

A much smarter approach would be to test the theory of how your revolutionary new approach works on a smaller scale. Naturally, just because something works on a local basis, it doesn't automatically mean it will work on a much larger scale, but failure matters less if you haven't staked too much on it!

Small-business owners, of course, are likely to take a very different view when it comes to considering rolling-out major change: they will often look at the dangers of large projects and avoid them for fear of incurring serious financial loss.

Once again the smaller-scale testing approach wins. If you wish to move your business forward you have to keep trying and testing new ideas - but you don't have to commit all your business resources every time.

Looking for something better?

Surveys have shown that there are three key concerns most common to small business owners.

These are: (1) Their income is too low (2) They spend far too much time working in their business and (3) Their business carries too little value should they decide to sell it.

Whilst many business owners are extremely concerned about these issues they often take little or no action to improve the situation - rather they hope that things will improve at some point in the future.

Be in no doubt, it is perfectly possible to increase your income and to spend less time doing it. What's more, and this is really good news, it's possible to apply tools and techniques to help you achieve both of these and at the same time build value in your business.

What's even better news is that many business-development tools and techniques, when applied in combination, reinforce each-other thus providing a far more effective approach to achieving a better deal for you.

Sage message

In the midst of the so-called "Dotcom Bubble" in the late 1990s the value of shares in many companies in the technology industry was going up-and-up. As progressively more investors were ploughing their money into these stocks, the share-price of companies outside this sector was not performing so well.

The famous investor, Warren Buffet (often referred to as The Sage of Omaha), who's company Berkshire Hathaway had not invested in any of the so-called Dotcom companies was often criticised and questioned as to why. His standard response was that he didn't understand the technology industry or how it could sustain such high share-prices when there was little apparent underlying value in many of those companies. And what Warren Buffet didn't understand, he didn't invest in.

Those who shaking their heads in disbelief at Mr Buffet's apparent inability to take advantage of the great profit opportunities to be had, were soon shaking them again in disbelief when tech-stock prices fell so spectacularly that many investors lost all their wealth.

There's a lesson here for all small-business owners: make sure you fully understand whatever it is you're committing yourself to. If you can't get your head around it, it's probably better to walk away.... even when the crowd is walking in the opposite direction.

Keep on learning

the current position of your business - profits, equipment, the number of employees and cash in the bank represent the sum-total result of the decisions you've made thus far.

You are your business and it cannot possibly perform any better than you can. It stands to reason therefore that if you wish to improve the performance of your business you need to develop your business skills in a broad range of areas.

This is a constant! No matter where you are with your business, there's always something you can do better and new skills you can learn in order to achieve that higher standard.

If you wish to move your business onto another level you need to open your mind to learning and building your business skills. If you're not developing and growing then neither is your business.

Mistakes can be good

Most people who have ever worked in a large organisation will have experienced the unpleasant repercussions that can occur when things go wrong. Senior managers often create an unpleasant work environment through a culture of blame.

This negativity encourages the misguided view that anything which goes wrong is automatically bad and that someone must be blamed. In turn this introduces an atmosphere where everyone plays it safe: doing exactly what they're told - no more, no less - taking no risks and avoiding trying anything new.

Any business that operates in this way is going nowhere. It doesn't matter how large the organisation is or what industry it operates in, this is a recipe for long-term disaster.

If you want your business to survive and grow you need to foster a supportive environment: one in which people will try new ideas and not be afraid to fail. After all if you're not making mistakes you're not learning and growing and without these you can't hope to strengthen your business.

Toughening-up your business

"To be honest I'm really not that interested in growing my business". This is a response I've heard on many occasions from clients where I have suggested they might consider developing their business.

There is an apparent misconception that "Business Development" refers only to creating aggressive growth strategies. On the contrary, this topic is more commonly directed at strengthening the business so that it's in a better position to survive when it encounters serious problems.

All businesses, from time to time, can face challenges to their very survival: nothing can fully protect us from every conceivable business threat. That said, with the correct approach the likelihood of a threat turning into a crisis can be seriously diminished. Just as important, by having a number of strong supporting pillars in place, the business will be in a much stronger position to survive and quickly bounce back when major setbacks arise.

Do not ignore the need for development of your business - at some point in the future you may regret it!

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Increase your income and spend less time doing it

Increase your income and spend less time doing it