How do you imagine your business might look five or ten years from now? Will you be among the top players, paving the way for the next generation of consumers? In this post, we’ve outlined the keys to a successful business and how to ensure you stand out from the rest.
1. Have a flexible business plan.
It almost goes without saying that a great business always starts with a great business plan. But not just any old business plan– one that is constantly changing and adapting as your business evolves. A business plan shouldn’t just be something you do once as a start-up, then forget about. It should be a living, breathing, growing part of your organisation, and an intrinsic part of its survival.
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2. Be curious.
Listen to advice and don’t get stuck in your ways. The old ways of doing things aren’t always the best ways. Change can be daunting and bad habits die hard, but the best businesses adapt in order to thrive. Whether you’ve been in business for three years or three decades, don’t rest on your laurels and think you know everything. Find innovative ways of doing business to replace old, outdated ones. Listen to your customers– what’s working for them, and what isn’t? What can you do about it? Be an eternal student– look, learn and find inspiration wherever you can. It might just help you grow your business.
3. Know your numbers.
The best businesses know their numbers inside out. Stay on top of the bookkeeping by uploading receipts as soon as possible. It can be helpful to set aside a fixed amount of time each week to scan receipts and invoices so you remember your recent financial activity and what your receipts were for. Or better yet, scan them as you go with an app like Receipt Bank.
It’s also good practice to set some time aside each month to manage your cash flow. Cash flow is the lifeline of any business, and monitoring this is like monitoring your pulse. Always keep track of your incomings and outgoings so you can spot any cash shortages and surpluses well in advance and act on them.
Regularly track performance measurements to help you achieve your goals, so you can keep focusing on where you’re going, not where you’ve been.
4. Know your customers.
A successful business will ultimately design their product or service to solve peoples’ needs and problems, so identifying those customer needs and pain points from the outset is essential. Know exactly who your ideal customers are and actively seek them out. Where do they hang out, what events do they go to, what social media platforms do they use? Ours are ambitious business owners who think differently; innovators and game changers who challenge the status quo (and chances are, that’s you, if you’re reading this). Everything you do should speak directly to your target customer and benefit them in some way, as well as building trust. You can get inside the head of your customer with an Empathy Map.
You’ll also need to know your Value Proposition– exactly what it is that you’re offering customers. What’s that special something that only you can do? In a nutshell, what does your product or service offer them that your competitors don’t? And how do you communicate that?
5. Build a brand based on empathy, honesty and authenticity.
Once you’ve identified your Value Proposition, you can use it to propel your brand forward. Growing a successful brand is no mean feat, and people define success in myriad ways. For some, it might be having ten thousand followers on Instagram, but for you, it might be having only one hundred followers, all of which are loyal customers. Either way, consistency is key. Focus on creating simple, informative content that clearly communicates your ‘why’ and how you can help your customer.
We’re now in the age of authenticity, so it’s important to let your personality shine through. Ask yourself: does your brand truly capture who you are, what you do and why you’re different? If not, maybe it’s time for a rebrand.
6. Let the tech do the heavy lifting.
Time is money, and who wants to be spending their time (or their money) managing clunky spreadsheets? In the Age of Information, there are plenty of apps and intuitive pieces of software out there to streamline your business. Technology is your greatest business tool, so utilise it. Live bank feeds, expenses apps, and forecasting software will help keep you on top of the numbers and plug directly into your accounting solution, saving you bags of time. You can find out some of our favourite piece of tech here. With the right software plugged in, you can work smarter, do better, and spend more time growing your business!
Keen to propel your business forward? Talk to your accountant! A proactive accountant can give you the tools you need to grow your business. They’ll help you understand the numbers so you can make the right decisions going forward and spend more time doing what you do best. No muss, no fuss!