Managing the Dream
It all starts with a dream. For those of us that own and run a business, the dream is our vision, our belief. It is the reason we entered the world of business and the reason why we are motivated each and every day.
Some businesses are always going to remain a small concern, they may never employ another person. If that’s the wish of the owner, that’s great, there are many highly successful so-called lifestyle businesses providing great products and services. Some develop into a family business large enough to employ perhaps 3 or 4 family members, and then there are those whose success means expansion, premises, equipment and inevitably, people. My work includes working with many different types and sizes of business including SME’s (small medium sized enterprises).
I have a couple of questions for you:
Firstly, do you wish to have a business that you can sell when you want to leave or retire?
Is it your intention to see another member of the family take it over when you’re ready to step back?
Are your plans to develop and grow the business; employing more people as you do so?
Are you motivated to improve your market share and to be recognised as the market leader?
And finally, what would happen to your business tomorrow if you were no longer there?
Now it may be that you have never thought about these questions, or that you have, but they seem too far off to consider fully. I would imagine however, that if your business is already employing people, you would not turn someone down who wished to buy the business from you at some point in the future; or possibly seeing one of your children running it in the future.
Many businesses start with a blindingly great idea that nobody else is potentially fulfilling, or they start because we have collected skills and expertise in a particular field, are working for a larger company and see an opening, an opportunity, a gap in the market, to develop the product or improve the quality of the service etc. We begin small and if we were right and we are capable, the business finds customers who spread the word and the ball is in motion.
And here is one of the biggest challenges of them all. How to keep the growth and the vision aligned.
As the amount of what you do increases; so the ‘Why’ you are doing it can become less clear. Yet it is understanding the why that creates loyalty from people; your staff, customers, suppliers, partners. When we understand why people do what they do, the what they do, the way they conduct business makes sense. We feel good about buying their product or engaging their services. We find that what’s important to us, is also important to the business. Our values are aligned. In fact, because it feels right, the cost becomes less significant. We have built trust in the business.
So as the owner, we are probably clear what is important to us, we understand why we are doing what we do, we have the dream. But how do we ensure others understand it too? When a business is small the why comes to work each day, that’s You! You pollinate those closely around you, they get it, and it’s reflected in the things they do for you and the business. But as we grow, the challenges increase; we can no longer make all the decisions, or speak to everyone every day. We have employed people to fulfil management roles.
So it may be that you already have a number of managers – do they understand and share the same dream?
You may have recruited them because they possess the knowledge and skills – are they a good fit? Do they get your Why?
My experience suggests to me that business owners benefit hugely from coaching. Not to tell them how to run their business, but to help them explore the dream, think about the leadership challenge, understand the challenge of encapsulating the WHY & planning for the future.
To create a legacy, it has to be embedded in the culture of the business, the earlier the better. That way, as the business grows, the why remains clear and is easily and repeatedly broadcast by all those in authority. It is the way a bigger business can keep what they do aligned to why they are doing it. They have a Mojo that is clearly understood by all those who come into contact with it. They build great customer loyalty and equally importantly; they grow a number of people from within the business who are capable of leading the business after the founder leaves.
So in summary, customer loyalty is created with alignment, when a customer chooses your business because they understand WHY you exist & it feels right. So if your purpose, your why, is to provide a bespoke customer service, all that you do should demonstrate that. The minute you lose sight of that, ‘the message’ becomes confused, not clear at all. We frequently see this, where businesses start offering a ‘standard service’ sold on price, alongside the original offering. Loyalty can be manipulated through price and incentives for short periods of time and at great cost…and frequently is. The problem is that larger and larger parts of the organisation become dedicated to finding new ways of performing the manipulation and usually for a diminishing return.
Ensuring the clarity of the vision, whilst maintaining the growth, involves investing in the right people and recruiting the right fit; not just the technical skill and knowledge. Valuing people development, developing great communication skills and tools within the organisation are essentials, not an afterthought.
Don’t assume that family members including children have or share the same vision as you naturally.
Engage a coach. I will guarantee that it will be one of the best pieces of self-development you ever engage in and will lead to you wanting to extend the program to other members of your staff.
Reveal Solutions specialise in Executive coaching, Leadership Development and Communication skills training. We have clients all over the UK and can provide a bespoke service to you and your business.
If you have any questions or would like us to contact you to discuss your unique requirements please contact us at