What you can do to run your business better

20th December 2014

If you’re a CEO, then you probably have a steady stream of ‘experts’ telling you how you can run your business better. If you’re a first time CEO, chances are you’re too busy running your business to listen to this advice, and even if you did listen, you’d have no real way of lifting yourself out of the business long enough to tell whether the advice will help or not.

So let’s start by stating the obvious.
  • Nobody knows your business better than you do, so you won’t be missing anything important if you don’t take the kind of context-free advice most consultants and coaches offer
  • Every business is different, so there’s no magic formula for running one. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

What we have done here is to compile a shopping list of the top 10 things for you to ponder over the holidays, when you do have a little time to consider them and allow yourself to take a broader view of the strategic direction of your business.

Each one of these is the result of very expensive lessons learned by both high profile, and not so high profile, CEOs. We could have written a book about them, but this being the season of goodwill we decided it would be more useful just to tell you. Here’s the list;

1. Change. If things are settled, change something. If everything’s working fine, raise your standards. And if there’s too much change happening, take a step back to make sense of it. And if it doesn’t make sense, try doing nothing and see what happens.

2. Stand for something. What does your business stand for? What do you stand for? Where’s the overlap? Where are the gaps? And, most importantly, what are you going to do about it?

3. Celebrate success and diversity. People need to know when they’ve got it right. It embeds learning for next time. And embedding learning is how businesses maintain high rates of growth. And the best ideas come from the most unlikely people, so include everyone – don’t have favourites.

4. Give a little. It could be time, energy, effort or expertise, or a simple random act of kindness. Make someone a cup of tea, or help them solve a problem. And do it because you can, not for the kudos.

5. Do something bold. Nobody needs what your business sells. There are plenty of other suppliers. You won’t be memorable unless you do something memorable. Then you become ‘those guys who did that great thing…’

6. Fire the cynics. They are poisoning the soul of your business.

7. Embrace emotion. Businesses often try to purge emotion from their systems and processes. But emotion generates energy which creates momentum. Acknowledge it and use it, don’t suppress it.

8. Always be learning. A twist on the famous mantra from the film Glengarry Glen Ross – always be closing. Read, listen, learn and share. It builds trust, which builds relationships, which builds businesses.

9. Ditch best practice. It’s a ‘me too’ strategy, and only makes you just like everyone else. No business ever got great by aspiring to be average.

10. Get a life. The job won’t love you back, but your family and friends will. And don’t think you can make up in your fifties and sixties for what you didn’t do in your thirties and forties. It doesn’t work like that.

We hope you find this a useful reference whenever you need to do some big picture thinking. If you wanted, you could even rate yourself, save your answers and look at the list again this time next year to see how you get on.

As ever, if there’s anything here that you’d like to have a chat about, you know where we are.


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