I have recently gone back to the business I started 11 years ago when I left the corporate world. It has been a perfect opportunity to take stock, to focus and to make sure I’m doing what clients most value and what I most enjoy.

Since 2005 I’ve been privy to the pains, frustrations, aspirations and successes of the businesses and organisations I’ve worked with. I have designed and delivered sales training for UK and international businesses, I have worked with business owners to set goals, create strategies and engage their team in the journey and I have coached, mentored and cajoled individuals in business to do their best work.

You might think by now that I could have bottled the perfect formula for business success! I don’t believe it exists – otherwise I’d have written the book and made millions. And everyone else would have read it and made millions! However, I have collected and used the lessons I’ve learnt along the way – for clients and for myself.

Here are 10 which I have seen having the most impact across business types and sizes within the SME sector.

  1. The sooner you can pin down the value you provide to your best clients the sooner you will succeed.
  2. Having clear values makes so many business decisions easier and quicker, including strategic direction, pricing, recruitment, procurement and alliances.
  3. Businesses could achieve more with what they already have – and I’m not talking about asking people to work longer and harder. Often solutions to external and internal problems and new ideas come from the people who are dealing with the impact of them. Give them the space and the trust to solve them.
  4. Although you don’t – and shouldn’t do it all – you do need to understand what needs to be done to make your business strong.
  5. Time to review is as important as ‘time to do’. Make it part of your way of working at every level of the business.
  6. People at the top of businesses often feel isolated and yearn to be able to tap into what’s really going on. Humility can go a long way to solving this.
  7. Use experts – who are prepared to really get to know your business.
  8. Culture is at least as important as strategic direction, objectives, processes and all those other staples of business success. Time invested early on in defining the culture you want to create is time well spent. Recognise that you then need to make it live and breathe.
  9. A good induction programme pays dividends many times over – and it doesn’t look like a jam-packed day of presentations!
  10. Most businesses grow reactively. This isn’t necessarily a problem and you can learn a lot along the way – but it is often a slower learning process than for a business who are proactive.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. You’ll undoubtedly have other lessons that you could add. The biggest learning for me is that so much can often be achieved with the resources you have. The art is in making them work differently to create your own version of business magic.

And a bonus lesson …

  1. One-off training events are not a good use of resources – time, money or people – unless they go hand in hand with a clear purpose, effective follow-up and proof of value.

If any of these lessons ring true and you would like to know more about uncovering the magic in your business get in touch. In the meantime follow our LinkedIn company page where we regularly post ideas, advice and tips on finding and building your distinct strengths.

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