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By Doug Malouf   Printer Friendly Version

Changes, changes, changes. Everywhere we turn there are new ideas and more People doing the same thing. The competition has never been more fierce. Isn't that good? It certainly keeps us on our toes. But there are some steps we can take to ensure that our business is perfected. I have been telling business people in our seminars "It's war out there!" And the people with the best strategy and tactics, together with the best troops win the war.

To obtain the important knowledge you might need when managing your own business, consider acquiring a masters of business administration.

Strategy Number 1 to make your business boom is GET ABSOLUTELY ORGANISED. There is no doubt in my mind that it is easy to confuse activity with productivity and in a crisis, businesses lose money. There are three ways to get absolutely organised:

Step 1: At the end of each day, do an error correcting review. Re-run the day in your mind and say; "If I had to do that again, what would I do different?". It is said in the classics, doing the same thing day after day, in the same way and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. So re-run each day and communicate to the team how to do it better today than we did it yesterday.

Step 2:is never start the day without a to-do list. As boring as that may sound few business people are doing it. Each day, we walk into the business, open the doors and it's crisis time.

Step 3: is pretty simple, you have to spend time getting organised. That means getting in half an hour before everyone else or staying half an hour later without the telephones, the internet, email and the office gossip interrupting you. Think, plan analyse and do. Try these three simple steps, they are the first step in the war of business.

Strategy Number 2: DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. In this competitive environment the end user of your service - whether they are a customer, a patient, a passenger or a client - votes with their feet. So make sure your business does what it says it's going to do and the only way to do that, is to ensure that everyone in the business has impeccable product knowledge.

My travel agent, Julie at Thomas Cook, knows her stuff. She rings back when she says she will, she emails when she says she should, she understands her products and she's proud of her travel industry. You can tell that just by talking to her over the telephone. You can test your business by ringing up your own business and trying to do business with yourself. It's a challenging thought.

Strategy Number 3: UNDER PROMISE AND OVER-DELIVER. Winston Churchill said; "Loose lips sink ships". And it's easy to make promises with our mouths, overload our backs and fail to deliver.

We had a problem with our printer the other day, so Brad from our office went shopping with his fingers through the Yellow Pages, just as we have been taught to do! And he made contact with a company called "Just Printers" in Willoughby. We negotiated the repair and sent the machine to them They told us the repair would be completed on Thursday, but on Wednesday we received a phone call to say that the machine was ready and it was on the way back to our office. That's looking after your business.

Strategy Number 4: PROSPECT CONTINUALLY. We know that 14% of consumers leave a place of business because they form a relationship with someone else. We know that 9% leave because of competitive reasons so for a business to survive today, you have to have a prospecting system. And the biggest problem we all have is the moment our busy line goes up, our prospecting line goes down. So sit down with your team, small or large, and say; "How can we increase our market place penetration?" And set up a system. You might send 30 letters a week, you might all decide to give out more business cards. You might decide to run a business seminar. When it comes to new business, we are only limited by our imagination.

One of our clients is a firm of accountants. They run business education seminars for their clients and friends of their clients. It's a way of increasing the face to face time that is cost effective.

Strategy Number 5: HAVE A CUSTOMER SERVICE SYSTEM IN PLACE. It does not matter what type of business you are running or what kind business you are in. High technology has its place, but high touch is the answer to the bottom line. And customer service is not a one-stop event. It's a system. (insert edited coffee story). Have you checked your customer service systems.

Strategy Number 6: DEVELOP HIGH PERFORMANCE PEOPLE. People do business with people. Management today has to empower their staff to make commercial decisions on the spot. The days of "I don't know, that's not my department...", "It's not company policy..." are dead and gone. It's interesting to note that a company's biggest asset does not appear on the company's balance sheet. It's the human asset. The enlightened companies today are spending up to 4% of their annual turnover on staff training and development. A highly skilled staff, well-tuned and well trained can turn a small business into a big business yet management consistently defies this foundation by not seeing themselves as staff trainers. 90% of all staff training happens on the shop floor. Have a walk around your business and see if people are switched on or tuned off.

Strategy Number 7: BUILD A REPUTATION: Having spent 20 years in management consulting, talking to the world's best, listening to the world's best I believe that there is no doubt that word of mouth is emerging as the number one tune on the hit parade for business development. How many times have you promoted your local restaurant, your local doctor, or your dentist? We are natural promoters, so you build your reputation by outstanding performance in the market place. Don't let your business become a legend in your own mind; let your business become a legend in the minds of other people by building an impeccable reputation. It's called doing the little things well.

Winston Marsh, marketing guru, talks about "business customers/clients becoming evangelists to the business", in other words, they are singing your praises all of the time.

Strategy Number 8: SET UP AND AFTER-SALES SERVICE SYSTEM. (edited shoes story)

Strategy Number 9: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU MAKE A MISTAKE. Admit it, rectify it, and rebuild the relationship. Now we know you can't win all the people all of the time. Professor Henry Morrow said at a recent study that 3 in every 100 hate you before you start! So if you've had your quota today, it may not be their fault, it may be yours. Powerful business words of the nineties are: "I'm sorry, it's our mistake, we will rectify it - has it been rectified to your total satisfaction?". It's called communication. In this fast and furious world we are forced to make quicker decisions, act promptly and be crisis driven it is inevitable that mistakes will happen.

The story goes about the young advertising executive who made a decision that cost his company a million dollars. The managing director called him up and the young fellow knew he was in trouble. He opened the conversation by saying "I suppose this means I've got the sack". The managing director looked at him straight in the eye and said "Hell no, we've just spent a million dollars training you!"

Strategy Number 10: CHANGE IS CONSTANT: Look around you at the technology that you are using today that you weren't using just five years ago. The most constant force in the world is change. We are being told that by the year 2010 we will be travelling to London in 18 minutes (they'll still lose your bags!). Ten years ago, if I had said to you that the majority of us would be walking around the streets clutching mobile phones to our ears, you would have laughed me out of town.

In fact, I can remember the first photocopier we had in our company. The original went through the middle of the machine and the copies came out the other end wet so you had to wait for them to dry. And because this technology had not been perfected, the act of putting an original into the machine was like playing Russian Roulette! Today golfball typewriters have vanished and we are now talking to each other via email and the internet - the fifth floor is not talking to the sixth floor face to face anymore. Given that rapid rate of change, are we coping. However, the experts are saying that to keep pace with change we need to do 40 hours of classroom training, per year per person, or we will be humanly obsolete within 3 years.

Now when it comes to business we have to look at new ways, new ideas and new challenges and be prepared to face these changes in a fun and exciting way.

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