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Written by Hayley Parker

As we all know, it’s not an easy time for businesses at the moment and the future remains uncertain. At OPS-BOX Group, we work with businesses who are planning to come out the other side stronger and fitter, not just survive.

The fundamental pillars of business still apply and we believe that paying close attention to these now will stand you in good stead for the road ahead and position you for future growth.

At OPS-BOX, we see businesses every day who face different choices, challenges and issues, however there is a lot of common ground and I have shared my top eight pieces of advice for any business.

1.       Fail to plan, plan to fail

You wouldn’t set out on a journey without a map - or more likely a sat nav these days! Your business is no different – you need a goal – an end destination – and a plan of how to get there. That’s not to say you might not get lost along the way or double back and take a different path – but that’s the important thing about planning – to know your goal and how you might get there, whilst being flexible and prepared to adapt and change course along the way.

2.  Actions speak louder than words

‘Actions speak louder than words’. A saying that originates from 1628 and is as true today as it was when Abraham Lincoln used it back in 1856.

Having a business plan is important – but creating a great business plan is just the start, it’s what you do with it that matters. Time and time again we see good plans developed, but often you don’t see them turned into reality. Why? Because time and effort hasn’t been spent on implementing them. The vision & goals are clear, but action hasn’t been taken in the business to support the delivery. The result – the business doesn’t achieve the success it had hoped for.

3. Execution is key

One of the ways that businesses can effectively implement their plan is by having a Business Operating Model (BOM) that’s fit for purpose for their business. Put simply, a BOM (quite a good abbreviation!) means having the following 6 things aligned to the plan and working effectively:

  1. Organisational structure
  2. Policies and processes
  3. Governance (the ‘rules’)
  4. Monitoring and Evaluation
  5. Tools and technology
  6. Culture

4. ‘Get the right people on the bus’

In his book, ‘Good to Great’, Jim Collins creates a metaphor by comparing a business to a bus and the leader as a bus driver. He emphasises that it is crucial to continuously ask “First Who, Then What?”. Getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats, as Collins puts it – is crucial to achieving your goals.

 5.       Fortune favours the bold

Growth may happen organically, but planning for it will put you in the best possible place to capitalise on opportunities. Know your competition inside out and be certain on your own key competencies and where your competitive edge lies. You might choose to grow by moving into new markets or products or there may be new opportunities geographically or via merger or acquisition. Whichever way you decide to go - knowing HOW you will grow and having a clear and ambitious strategy gives you a yardstick by which to measure your business success.

6.       Keep a close eye on your finances

Finance is regarded as the lifeblood of a business enterprise. It is the basic foundation of all kinds of economic activities and the success of an organization largely depends on efficient management of its finances. In these uncertain times, it has never been more important to keep a close eye on your cost base and cashflow, as well as having a strategy for funding your longer term growth.

7. Seek out support

One thing that most business owners will agree on, whether a start-up or an established company, is that running your own business can be a lonely place. Everyone needs a sounding board sometimes – it might be an issue, a challenge or an opportunity, but people within your business and indeed friends and family are often too ‘close’ to provide objective advice. A trusted partner or network that you can turn to and learn from is an invaluable resource for the road ahead.

8. Have fun

Last but definitely not least, the last piece of advice to anyone in business – is enjoy it! Remember the reasons that you started your business in the first place and the passion you have for your product or service, whatever it might be. It can be so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind, but at the end of the day, it’s about the people you work with – and business is actually quite fun – so enjoy it!

Hayley Parker is Company Director of OPS-BOX Group. OPS-BOX provide a range of support services to help business of all size and type to grow and succeed.

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