With the continuous nurturing of the internet, the past several years have sparked massive change in the business word. I’m not talking about purchasing and marketing online, I’m talking about in the way businesses function, communicate, and operate. I believe we are living through the biggest transformation in the history of our society. There are 13 character traits that your business absolutely must possess in order to have long-term success in this fast-changing world. Are you Ready?
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Most of us entrepreneurs and business owners have big dreams. Now imagine your dreams are a giant sky scraper, taller than the biggest building you have ever seen in person. Imagine what it takes to hold up a structure of that magnitude and take a close look at the foundation of the building. It’s rock solid; built from concrete and steel; it has to be. You obviously can’t build a Sky scraper in sand. The bigger the building, the more solid and strong the foundation needs to be.
Belief is a huge component in creating a solid foundation. As the owner and captain of your business, you MUST have a rock solid belief in what you do. What is the purpose of your business? Why did you start your business and what do you want to accomplish? Surprisingly, most successful people believe in what they do more than they believe in themselves. They believe less in what they currently know and more in their ability to figure it out.
No one else will believe in you, or what you, do more than you. Create a solid, foundational belief in yourself that, no matter what, you can and will figure it out; because you are the foundation of your business.
Your business must serve a primary function. What is it that your business does exactly? Establishing a solid foundation should help you figure out what your business does. If you are frustrated or stressed out, go back to those foundational questions and see if the actions you are taking, day-in and day-out, are in alignment with what you ultimately want to accomplish. If not, go back, rebuild your foundation, and create functions that will get you where you want to go.
Focus is something that is absolutely necessary in business. A distracted person is neither efficient nor effective. You, as the leader of your business must be laser focused, dialed-in, on what it is your business is trying to achieve.
Businesses that try to be everything to everyone, usually, are less effective. Find a niche, go deep into that niche; be the go-to business within a specific industry. Learn to say, “NO” to the good so you can say, “YES” to the great. Find the strengths of you and your team and, in the beginning, find a niche where you can leverage your current strengths. As you grow you can expand into other markets. For now, know what your core activities are and do them well.
People are always in search of “New”. People like new things whether it’s new products, new services, new ideas, new information, or just a new perspective on something that already exists. Companies that are innovative in their approach, presentation, and delivery will automatically separate themselves from the competition. Constantly re-inviting yourself and your business is key.
A great example of this is the night-life industry. Have you ever noticed how it seems like bars and clubs are constantly going out of business and “new” venues are awlways poping-up? Sometimes they do go out of business for a variety of reasons, typically poor management, but more times than not, the same people still own and manage that establishment. You see, as soon as a new bar or club opens up, usually, it becomes the popular place that everyone wants to go. As a business strategy in that industry, owners will, typically change the name and the concept of their bar or night club every 4-5 years to make sure their venue stays the popular spot on the block.
You might be asking, how do I stay fresh, new, and innovative? It’s not an easy thing to do in some industries, but there are two major ways you can be sure to constantly be ahead of your competition. The easiest of the two is to surround yourself with, and hire, innovative and creative people. The second is to be consistently consuming quality information. If you have the ability to commit to those two things, you will always be one step ahead of your competition.
The internet has allowed us the ability to conduct business at light-speed… so we do. People expect you to respond to e-mails the same day, handle their complaint right now, and provide quality service to every single customer all at the same time, because if you don’t, you can be sure they will tweet about their “bad experience”. The internet takes place in real time, and you need to treat your business accordingly.
Businesses today must be fast in the delivery of their product or service and in their reaction to the marketplace, what your competition is doing, and unhappy employees and customers. The key, and the difficult part, is to stay ahead of the marketplace and conduct your business from a place of action than reaction. There’s a lot on your plate as a business owner, but you have to be able to handle it; after all, you didn’t open your own business because it was easy.
With the speed of business today, markets are constantly shifting, new products and competition spring up overnight, and your business needs to welcome change. Businesses that are agile and malleable have a huge advantage over large corporations.
Corporations are like huge cruise ships, it takes a lot of energy for corporations to adjust their “cruise plan”. If you can see and build your company to be an ocean-avenging, high-powered yacht, you will be able to run circles around the big companies.
Small businesses who realize that the power of the marketplace is back in the consumer’s hands and who provide more value to their customers, will see massive success long-term. It should be much easier for a small business to provide quality customer service than a massive corporation.
Businesses that are flat in structure, non-hierarchical, have a tendency to be more efficient and innovative. Communication is usually more effective and efficient because there aren’t as many layers of managers to pass information through. This allows businesses to react to changes in the marketplace more rapidly because managers have more leeway to make decisions in order to grow the business.
People within your organization should be able to collaborate and work together without having to be constrained within unnecessary corporate structure or titles. Communication should be open and everyone should have access to the CEO through e-mail, at the very minimum. This organization allows more room for people to step into and express their strengths instead of simply completing tasks assigned by and reporting to a boss.
Businesses must obviously treat their customers well, but the same goes for people within their organization and within their industry. Bad news travels fast, especially in our digital age. You must treat your customers, your employees, and your competition with respect and integrity. Instead of talking smack, or ignoring your competition, come together and share best practices, learn from each other and do business together. I know that sounds like an alien concept, but the-fact-of-the-matter is that outsourcing is easier than ever, and will continue to get even easier. Collaboration among and within industries is key in providing quality products and services to keep business and jobs in the US.
I don’t mean frugal in the sense that you don’t take risks, you have to take risks in business to have success. Shoot, just starting a business is a risk most people are unwilling to take! By frugal, i mean your business needs to be lean. You need to be frugal in your monthly expenses.
So many start-ups and small businesses get into expensive office space too soon and furnish it with brand new desks, leather bound chairs, and top-of-the-line equipment. All of this will come in time, but for now you can’t be carrying any extra weight. You must minimize monthly expenses to maximize profits from your revenue. You can make those up-grades when you have generated significant cash-flow.
When you are ready to hire on new employees, you must be extremely careful; you definitely can not afford to have employees that don’t provide immense value to your organization. Do as much as you possibly can with as few people as you possibly can. Brendon Burchard built FIVE different multi-million dollar brands within about 5-years with a team of no more than 5 people; some industries are easier to do this in than others, however with some creativity and some research you would be surprised at what can be accomplished with a lean business model.
We live in a global economy and our country’s small business owners and entrepreneurs, overall, do an awful job at taking full advantage of the power of the internet. Even I am guilty of this! It blows my mind how easy it is to market products and services over seas yet so many business owners are too focused on working in their business they don’t see the huge opportunity that exists for their business outside their zip code. Develop some diversity in your product and service offering, go digital and market products internationally.
Complete what you start. What would your life and your business look like if you did everything you said you would do? Some of you still need to get started; you have been thinking about getting ready, to get ready, to do something. Stop thinking, stop getting ready, just go freakin’ do it and do it with the intention of finishing it! As T. Harv Eker says, “how you do anything, is how you do everything”. Start creating a habit of taking action and finishing by completing small tasks.
By formula I mean a method, or a system. You must have systems in place for your business, especially marketing systems. It’s hard to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology; unless you use it. It’s essential that you find a way to provide some sort of value to your customers via the internet and create a system or process that delivers that value automatically. Online systems run for you 24/7/365; they work for you while you are face-to-face with other customers or clients, eating, sleeping, or even while you are on vacation, doing absolutely nothing.
The more quality systems you can create to leverage your time, the more effective you will be. Get your sanity back and systemize!
If you aren’t having fun than you shouldn’t be doing it. Now I’m not suggesting you live your life or operate your business like a 6-year old, where you only do things that you feel like doing. You obviously have to do things you don’t necessarily enjoy from time to time to grow and keep your business running, but overall you need to make sure you are having fun and doing what you love.
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I’m curious, which trait, of the 13 I mentioned above, do you feel is the most important and why? What are some other character traits of a business that you feel are essential to success? What about you; what is one personal trait you possess that you feel has been essential to your success?
Drop a quick message in the comments section below!
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Looking forward to connecting with you and hope our paths cross at some point in the near future and we have the opportunity to meet in person.
Until then, choose your calling, live it, and systemize!
Michael R. Hunter
Director of Marketing