As the year goes on, and our heads become filled with things we have to do to drive our businesses forward, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. (And, the smaller your company, the more likely you are to wear half a dozen hats.)
As business leaders and owners, we need to do better at the business basics. Winning companies tend to do a few of these basic things better than the competition.
Here are a few business basics you can focus on to yield best results and reduce stress (even if it’s just by a little bit).
1. A Focus on Customer Centricity
If you lose sight of the reason you’re in business, then you may struggle to win projects, be profitable, and keep employees happy. Integrators deal with tough conditions that often require us to serve many masters: contractors, architects, client reps, end-users, and more. It’s easy to get frustrated with the indecisiveness and user error that come along with technology system deployment.
But fighting with your customers – or your contractors or anyone else – never bears fruit. It’s like a furious cornerback yelling at the ref about a pass-interference call. Have you ever seen a player get the call reversed after arguing? Nope. Instead, you see a ref who becomes jilted by the antics and starts looking for more reasons to be upset. Rolling with the punches and putting the customer at the center of your business is critical.
Make sure every employee knows that, while they aren’t always right, a customer is always a customer – and you love your customers because they keep the lights on.
2. A Strong Financial Sense
So many integrators have put themselves in tough situations by getting in over their heads. This could involve taking on projects they aren’t sure they can do or taking on debt to grow without a clear path. Low margins on hardware – and the large percentage of a project that is often made up of hardware – makes it even tougher.
This certainly doesn’t mean you don’t want to grow and take on larger projects. It just means that, sometimes, you have to be smart about how much you take on, the terms you accept, and the realities of your abilities and your financial wherewithal.
My dad was an entrepreneur. As I build my companies, he often reminds me: “Sometimes, the best deals you’ll make will be the ones you don’t.”
3. The Importance of Your People
Companies may be a reflection of their leadership – but, to grow, you need people to be invested and to buy in to what your business is doing. In the midst of a dozen fires, it’s easy to become the best “firefighter” in the company. Unless you’re helping your team learn to put out fires, however, you will never realize your potential by doing this.
Great companies almost always have strong, people-centric cultures. Build your people up, develop them, and bring them along with you. Sometimes you may even want to let them lead and help steer. (This is often the only way to get beyond being a “small company.”)
Back to basics – that’s where we all need to go. You’ll almost never be disappointed by this approach. —Dan Newman, Cofounder of V3*Broadsuite