Following on my from my previous article on the Characteristics of a Successful Business, we are now going to look at the next three, which business owners need in order to run a business successfully.
The first was making sure that from the day the business starts, the owners have an exit strategy, and know what kind of a business they want to run, i.e. lifestyle or value.
The second characteristic is that the owners reach a stage where they are managing “on” the business rather than “in” it; they have an opportunity to see what is going on around them and can react accordingly.
The third characteristic is that they only spend money on what is in the budget. They have a vice-like grip on the cash both in and out.
The fourth characteristic is that they build the business around systems, not people. By that I don’t mean people are not important, but that people work much better if they know the process they are supposed to be following.
That applies in two areas:
- How you win clients in the first place, i.e. you need a sales process
- How you keep your clients happy, insuring that they will buy from you again and/or recommend others to use your product or service, i.e. you need a delivery process
I have learned the hard way that if you skip any of the stages in the sales process it will come back and bite you in the backside – you end up with either a timewaster or a potential bad debt.
Whether you are going to be selling a product or a service, think about what would be the right process for you, and then, even it is only going to be you, document the procedure and follow it. You needn’t slavishly follow what others have, but it is useful to look at existing sales processes just to give you an idea of the kind of process you might find useful, should you decide to go down a similar route.
If you want to see an example, From Crew to Captain contains my own sales process. I follow it, and am well aware that departing from it increases the risk of storing up a problem for myself.
One of the many advantages of a good sales process is that if anybody else joins you, be it as a new member of staff, a strategic partner, or an associate, you can show them it and say quite simply ”This is the way we do things”. You don’t need a 60-page operations manual, you just need something simple and clearly defined. I would encourage you to do this, even if it’s just you that is following it and nobody else.
The sales process is intrinsically link to the delivery process. It helps you to weed out the time wasters and bad debts; with the delivery one, you increase the chance you have a satisfied client who comes back and refers other people to you.
And, by the way, it is much easier to build a business from quality referrals and recommendations than it is having to go out in the cold all the time trying to find new customers.