By Victoria Brannen, CEO of Maya Asset Management
Customers, colleagues and suppliers alike are all people. Understanding the relationship and expectations of all the people that touch your business is critical to success. Sustaining healthy collaboration in every communication channel within the business will result in improved profit margins and increased productivity: remember people are your business.
People are the most valued strategic asset, not a necessary cost (like some dying businesses), and the diversity of your people can compliment and enhance business. Harnessing non-traditional approaches when dealing with change and challenges can often provide innovative solutions that otherwise may not have been considered.
When you see these changes and challenges coming make sure that you embrace them: with rapid moving economic climates and ever changing customer expectations it is important to welcome change and make changes - before they change you. Audit the influencers that have an impact on your business, ask yourself if you are looking in the right direction or at the right benchmarks.
The key to change is successful engagement. If change initiatives are implemented in a structured way involving everybody then their commitment can drive the success of the change. Get everybody involved in planning for the future.
Here are my ten tips for streamlining your business:
- Never make assumptions. Do not assume that you are getting the best price or the right deal for your business. There are plenty of consumer comparison websites out there actively encouraging consumers to get the best deal business to consumer and business to business. Rationalising suppliers (depending on the scale of your business) can improve your buying power and strengthen your relationship with key providers.
- It is beneficial to form relationships with the local community. By getting to know local businesses and organisations you will help to attract and retain new and existing clients. We have worked closely with local community groups of all shapes and sizes, such as churches, charities and large scale event organisers, to provide venues for local events, business support and enhance community welfare.
- Having the ability to adapt is essential as rigid structures, processes and communications channels can restrict the ability to react to market and company situations in time. An oversized, inflexible or protocol ridden business will keep heading towards the iceberg despite any amount at frantic turning of the small wheel at the top, make sure you are structured to change direction as instantly as the current environment demands. Keeping up to date with technology and investing in the right platform can also help give your business an edge. But make sure that you use technology strategically and ensure that it is appropriate to your longer term business size and objectives.
- Providing and managing the software that helps streamline data and provide highly targeted and personalized campaigns, allows businesses to uniquely control customer information to achieve dramatic returns on marketing investments. But without leaving them with yet another legacy system which can prove costly in terms of time and money to maintain.
- Financial analysis is critical to understanding and actively managing asset performance, particularly in sectors where there are varied and complex accounting treatments of numerous revenue streams. You need to ensure you have the tools available to really understand the drivers and the impact of decisions.
- Being realistic is just as important as good planning. You need to be true to what you can offer as a business and don’t over promise. Failure to manage expectations from the outset can significantly damage relationships with customers, colleagues and suppliers. Unfortunately, if the promise of an excellent product/service turns out to be nothing more than a promise it can be a near impossibility to re-engage with disappointed clients, even if the product has improved in line with their original expectations.
- Be honest and transparent about what your company can deliver and do not simply accept work on the basis that you will ‘work it out later’. It is far better to exceed expectations than to fall short of them.
- This honesty and careful planning needs to extend to your use of social media platforms too. It is so simple to set up a new account with Twitter, Facebook or on a blog that it can be easy to jump in without having thought about what you actually want to use them for. A poorly managed blog can be as detrimental to your business as well managed one can enhance it. There’s nothing worse than seeing the last update as December 2009! It gives the impression of a badly managed business.
- Think carefully about your social media marketing strategy, the key messages you would like to voice and how genuine they are. Prudently plan the resource and time it will take to update your social media channels as it takes sustained effort to build a strong presence and see the associated benefits. Well managed social media platforms can provide brand new cost-effective channels for you to interact with your target audience.
- Finally have fun! Make having fun a priority. It is a well known fact that being happy helps combat stress and improves the state of mind. An improved state of mind will result in happier, more productive and more creative people both in and out of work.
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