As a business owner, what does ‘going great’ mean to you? Are you on your way to having £squillions in the bank, exotic holidays and all the rest? Or is it more of a lifestyle business, ticking along quite nicely? Chances are it is somewhere in between, depending on what you want and how much effort you put in.
No doubt you will have your own measures for how great your business is doing (do you?). However, there are as many books and gurus as there are stars in the sky that will exhort you on how to run your business – cue the classic, ‘follow this 8 point plan which you must do otherwise you are toast’ etc.
Good to Great
I love keeping it simple. There is a fantastic book called “Good to Great” by Jim Collins which sets out how to have a great business rather than one that is just good. In other words, you choose what sort of business you want.
It covers the absolute basics in generating a great business, whatever your criteria, and is based on talking to people who have actually done it rather than thinking about it.
Here, I’m highlighting the bits I have found that really matter to business owners.
- 1) Consistency is key
He suggests that a great company is like a hedgehog – simple, unimpressive, but above all consistent – passionate about what it does, knows its numbers clearly, and does what it can to be “best in the world at”. (P.S. It is easy to fall for the latest technological whizzy thing. Collins suggests that whatever you use, (AI?) make sure it is consistent with your hedgehog}
- 2) Build your foundations right
The doom loop! These are companies who try to skip the essential activities of building a business to get a breakthrough as quickly as possible – an extreme example is Elizabeth Holmes in the USA whose company, Theranos, tried (and failed) to get a radical blood testing machine to market. Great companies, however, use the flywheel principle to build momentum and get it right.
- 3) Getting the right people and being the right person
Yet perhaps the two most interesting and controversial things he suggests are essential for a business to move from good to great are: people, and you, the leader.“First who, then what” – with the right people on the bus you can do anything. Shared values are more important than skill sets, and a culture of self-discipline more effective than a “tyrant” dictating everything based on fear.Level 5 leadership – not, as the stereotype suggests, relying on charisma or a big personality, but a blend of “personal humility and professional will”. This includes a laser-like focus on the organisation’s purpose, a deep understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses, a commitment to continuous learning, and a drive to do what is right, rather than what is easy.
How are you getting from good to great?
So when you consider the statement “going great” from the perspective of your business, think of the following.
● How’s your hedgehog?
● Are you in a doom loop or on a flywheel?
● Do you have the right people on your bus?
● And as a leader, what’s your combination of personal humility and will to succeed?
Andrew is a commercial and civil mediator. He helps people and businesses generate solutions to disputes, preferably long before they get to court. He was a licenced business coach with ActionCOACH for 10 years, and has set up and run 2 businesses.