There are plenty of legendary bad business decisions:
Blockbuster passing up the chance to buy Netflix; Kodak sitting on the digital camera; New Coke.
But there are also legendary smart moves:
I’ll have the merchandising rights in exchange for a smaller pay packet, said a certain George Lucas.
What separates good companies from great companies, and good managers from great managers is decision-making. It’s not just about making the right decision, but consistently making the right decision.
Here are four key decisions that, as a business owner, you need to be able to nail if you want to see your business grow.
Decide… on the right people to work with.
When Larry Page and Sergey Brin met at Stanford, they did not immediately get on. But, despite frequent fractious interactions, they found themselves working together on a research project, and the pair discovered they had a lot in common: university professor parents; a from-childhood love of computers; a fascination for data-mining. Their relationship improved and that research project eventually led to Google.
But serendipitous introduction is just a small part of Google’s success; among the major contributing factors is the company’s determination to seek out the next right people. No company can work towards growth without good employees, and Google’s recruitment processes and incentives are geared to attracting and retaining the best available talent. Hammocks, arcade games and free ice-cream may not be your speed but, just like Google, your staff are vital to your company’s growth and, just like Google, you want the best available talent.
That means not taking the first body with a pulse that comes your way. And although a candidate may possess the required skills, they still may not be the right person. You want someone who suits the job AND your company.
To find the best-fit candidates, you need a process to follow. You do not want to be making up your recruitment drive as you go along. Remember that process needn’t mean protracted; for example, I’ve developed a recruitment process that takes just four hours.
With a process in place, you’ll find it much easier to stick by your decision that ‘They will do’ is not good enough.
Decide… where to establish your presence.
In today’s fragmented marketplace across all industries, it’s important to make the crucial decision of what will be your main growth channels.
In 2017, businesses can’t be as broad and vague about their channel strategy as companies in the past could be. Attempting a broad sweep will usually see small results across the board. Companies like ASOS and Kogan—which have laser-like focus on the online retail experience—are examples of how deciding on the right channel for your business leads to growth.
Any company looking to grow can’t be all things to everyone, nor can it be present everywhere without spreading itself too thin.
One of your most important decisions is to define your niche.
Decide… to stay the course in the face of failure.
To see your business grow, you need to learn how to cope with failure. At some point, everyone fails at something, but not everyone comes to understand that it’s not the failure that’s important, it’s how that failure is dealt with.
On New Year’s Day, 1962 Dick Rowe of Decca had no idea he’d climbed aboard the blunder bus by telling Beatles manager Brian Epstein, “Guitar groups are on the way out.”
Following a performance by the group at the Cavern Club, Epstein had convinced an A&R representative to offer the Beatles a session at Decca’s studios in London. There, the band recorded a number of songs, including a handful of Lennon-McCartney originals, but Decca were also looking at another group, and they opted to go with The Tremeloes.
Epstein had failed to secure a record deal for his band. But he didn’t see it as a disaster. He now had quality recordings to take to other music companies. And before long Epstein delivered a publishing deal, a record deal, and LOTS of sales.
And Decca? Yes, they missed out on the best-selling music act of all time, but at least The Tremeloes recorded the best-ever cover of a Cat Stevens song (Here Comes My Baby, in case you’re wondering). And Dick Rowe reappraised his position on guitars, and signed The Rolling Stones.
Failure is not a reason to give up. Failure tells you what didn’t work, so you can make the changes that will move you closer to what will work. To paraphrase Spiderman’s uncle Ben, with great failure comes great opportunity.
Decide to learn from every failure.
Decide… what your goals are.
The best business owners and managers are goal-driven, but the key to success is making sure your goals the right goals. And you need to create a plan to achieve those goals. The best goals are realistic but ambitious, and specific but flexible.
Henry Ford had goals. He wanted to increase production of the Model T, so he doubled his workforce. Production doubled. The following year, production almost doubled again with the introduction of the assembly line.
Goals, a plan, and results.
But then the company encountered a difficulty: retaining its workforce. Because of the dull, repetitiveness of the assembly line, employee turnover became incredibly high.
Henry Ford had a new goal—stop haemorrhaging workers—and he formed a fresh plan: reduce the workday; move from two shifts per day to three; double pay. Not only did worker turnover drop dramatically, those better-paid employees could afford the company’s product. In less than a decade Ford was able to drop the price of a Model T from around $800 to $350. And Ford became a billionaire.
Goals, a plan, and results.
Decide on a step-by-step plan, set milestones, and create a structured growth strategy to take your business from where it is now, to where you want it to be.
With the right decisions, you’ll not only ensure your business has the best chance to grows, you’ll also run your business more efficiently, with a lot less stress, and a lot more success.
About the author:
Shweta Jhajharia is Principal Coach and founder of The London Coaching Group, an ActionCOACH company. Shweta is a multi-award-winning business coach, and a popular keynote speaker. She has been recognised both by external bodies and the industry awards panels as the top coach in the UK, and the Number 1 ActionCOACH from over 1200 worldwide. She has also been invited to speak at large business events such as the bi-annual Business Show.