35 years in business is a long time, and although technology has evolved, there are certain principles that are timeless. A business based on values will always survive because it will constantly analyse the needs of its customers. Below are 7 timeless principles that I have practiced during my 35 years of being in business.
Always keep your word
Many years ago, a person’s word was the equivalent of a binding contract and it held a lot of weight. A verbal word stood for something, and it still does – however, these days it should always be backed up by a written contract. Keeping your word is essential in business, as it builds trust with your team and also builds trust with your customers and suppliers. Your word can be manifested in different ways, from your brand promise to your price promise. So always keep your word, and become known for it!
Include your team members in the decision-making process
There is a difference between an entrepreneur, and a solopreneur. A solopreneur carries everything and does everything themselves. Don’t be that person! In order for a business to grow and thrive, you need to build a skilled team that you respect and can rely on. Also, it is wise to include them in the decision-making process. Why? Because you hired them for their level of skill, not to be a “yes” person. It’s important to include them in the decision-making process because of what they can bring to the table, and to make them feel like part of the team. Creating a cohesive team goes beyond what you say – it’s about what you do, and including people in the decision-making process speaks volumes. Connected with this advice is this: Praise them in public and reprimand them in private.
Learn the names of key staff and greet them by name
This is important! Your staff don’t just want to be team members, they want to feel like team members. Greeting them by name, and memorising seemingly small details of their lives, like their partner’s name, or their children’s name(s) adds the personal touch. You don’t need to know everything about them, but knowing them by name, and occasionally asking how things are with them can make a big difference. You would be amazed by how many managers forget the names of their staff, and only remember them by their job title. Also remember to be punctual and respectful.
Create a core team
Consult with them on major decisions and whenever possible, let them jointly make decisions based on the majority view/vote. Reserve the right to veto, but only use it when absolutely necessary. Having a core management team ensures that you don’t behave like a loose cannon and creates a level of joint accountability that is essential for growth.
Handle finances wisely
Money can make or break a business. Take the time to review your financial position regularly. Profits, loss and cashflow. If your payments come in on the 13th of every month, but all of your payments are due on the 10th of every month, there is a real issue. Look at your accounts briefly on a day to day basis and review them in depth weekly to identify discrepancies, to highlight irregularities, and to implement any necessary changes.
Take holidays and time away from your business
This might not seem important, but it is. Life is about balance and if you are always tied to your business, you could start to resent it. Take breaks, take a holiday and have time away. It will give you a much clearer view. Gone are the days when people have to work over 40 hours a week. It’s about working smarter, not longer.
Some of the tips above have enabled me to stay involved in business for over 30 years, helped me to stay driven and empower others to do the same.
Anthony Fleming is a business growth expert and can be reached via www.anthony-fleming.com.