1. Do it your own way!
Learn from others but follow your own path. Every journey is unique – be agile and flexible but maintain your determination to succeed. For sustainable high growth, find a coach or mentor and use them to help you drive the business forward.
2. Don't stagnate, innovate
Keep your ear "close to the ground" – use competitor and market data to keep your business competitive. Be creative and differentiate your offer from the competition – seek innovative ways of doing business.
3. Know your market and your customers
Know your market, its segmentation and your position in it! Constantly ensure you know your customers' wants and needs. Use market research to understand your customers' buying habits. Promote the benefits of your offer not just the features.
4. Build a strong brand
Brand is everything! – Strong brands stimulate desire. Build a compelling and valuable brand and work tirelessly to promote it and maintain its values.
5. Focus on quality, service & value - NOT the lowest price
Don't concentrate on price. The customers you really want are the ones who focus on quality, service and long-term value – make sure your brand value supports your proposition.
6. Employ the best people – pay them well and work them hard
Employ fewer people, make them multi-skilled and pay them well – they will be better motivated, more focused and less likely to leave you. Encourage team working. Establish small project teams to achieve key business aims and reward success.
7. Be lean and mean
Maximise income and minimise costs. Relentlessly seek out wasteful activities in all its forms. Embrace a culture of continuous improvement and involve everyone in its deployment.
8. Be flexible and adaptable
Usually the winners are those most able to react quickly to change and adapt in a market responsive way. Often they will turn a crisis into a new opportunity.
9. Build cash reserves
Cash is king – invest carefully and build reserves. Avoid debt finance except where this will constrain growth. Cash will act as a buffer – this will help your cash flow and more importantly, your emotional wellbeing.
10. Create a culture of lifelong learning and education
Invest in the development of your staff – encourage skills development and a lifelong learning culture. Skilled and motivated people make fewer mistakes, produce better quality and are more productive. Promote enterprise and participation.
11. Plan, plan, plan
"If it takes a man 4 hours to chop down a tree, he should spend the first 3 hours sharpening the axe". Create practical plans with defined actions – monitor and update. Use the "Deming Cycle" – PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT. Communicate your plans.
12. Lead from the front.
Show your leadership – be visible, active, and supportive, express a clear vision, show confidence and determination – develop buy-in to your plans for the business.
Always remember the 2 C's - without these, you don't have a business! - Customers & Cash.