I want to share with you one of the best pieces of advice I have ever gotten. Something my father told me when I was young and repeated incessantly.
“No one can ever take your education away from you, so build your house on a rock of learning and curiosity.”
In the following, I’m going to offer some ideas for how you can build your business on a rock. To me, the core foundations of building a solid and sustainable business include:
Your company’s success is directly dependent on the quality of the people you can get, grow, and keep on your team. Meaning you should make talent acquisition, talent development, and talent retention a significant focus of your organization. Without great people, nothing else matters.
To build a winning business, you must bring something unique and compelling to the marketplace that your target customers highly value. Something so special that it is difficult, if not impossible, for your competition to copy and that you can deliver on flawlessly. If your business does not meet these criteria, you will likely have to compete on price, which is the fast lane to bankruptcy.
Extreme Customer Focus
It is one of my key mantras, “Whoever owns the voice of the customer owns the marketplace.” The more you understand your customer’s needs, wants, fears, wishes, and desires, the better chance you have of solving their problems and delivering what they crave. Most businesses are pathetic at genuinely listening to their customer, so doing this well can give you a huge competitive advantage.
Superior Customer Service
Few companies truly deliver consistently high-quality customer service. The goal is to create a fantastic shopping, buying, and owning experience for your target customer. Meaning your business must be excellent at listening to your customers and understand what they define as great service. Then managing those expectations to allow you to meet and exceed them consistently. To do this effectively, it takes a lot of focus, training, and feedback to ensure your customers are delighted every time they do business with you.
If you’re not managing cash flow, you will not be managing much for long.
As Peter Drucker famously said, “The purpose of the business is to create and keep the customer.”
I will also add that you must do that profitably. I have seen many “successful” businesses go out of business because they were selling massive amounts of products. Consequently, losing money on every sale. As we like to say in the consulting industry, “this is an unsustainable strategy.”
The number one problem I see companies around the world is in their execution. They have an excellent strategy to win in the marketplace, but they cannot execute effectively on their plans. To be successful, you need to have highly engaged, satisfied, and loyal employees who take fantastic care of your customers. They are proactive, accountable, and drive to deliver the necessary business results. In other words, you want employees who have an “ownership mentality.” Committed to making the business as successful as possible.
Just like constructing a building, you need to have well-designed plans and follow those plans. Even the best plans will end in ruin if you don’t have a solid foundation. I believe if you focus on the six areas I have listed, you will be “building your house on a rock.”