Published September 7, 2020
7 Important Lessons you Should Learn in Business
Running a business or holding a senior position within an organisation doesn’t come without its fair share of learning curves. Hard lessons that, while at the time, can feel as though our world is crumbling down benefit us in the long run and make us better decision-makers and business people. You may be reading this as an established business professional or as someone who is just starting in a new role or business venture, either way, it is vital to refer back to the fundamentals of what it means to be successful and the business lessons and qualities we should adopt.
The right people are invaluable
“If you want to go, fast go alone. If you want to go far, go together” – African Proverb
Businesses are rarely a solo success. In the majority of cases, there will be a team of people behind the face of an organisation and to grow in the best way possible, you need to make sure you surround yourself with the right individuals and retain them once you’ve found them. These people can be mentors, partners and peers as well as colleagues and employees that ultimately help you reach your business goals and have a positive influence on your environment. Ensure you take care of those that benefit you. Reward them in any way that you can and make them feel valued, if you don’t you’ll lose them.
Don’t assume your Clients will love your product just because you do
You’ve been working on a product, you’ve poured your heart and soul into it as well as your time and resources, then, nobody wants to buy it, disaster. Objectively put yourself in the shoes of your consumers and ask yourself, what makes this product so great that I would take notice of it? When we’re absorbed by our work we tend to forget that there is a multitude of people out there doing the same thing we are. Think about what sets you apart from the competition and what others are doing better. You should ensure that you test your product frequently and acquire feedback from customers, you won’t really know the true value of your product until it’s out in the market and consumer feedback is invaluable when it comes to developing it further.
Imagine a client comes to you with a slightly different request to what you’re used to providing, do you decline their request because it’s not something your company does already and you don’t want the hassle of modifying your product? Or, do you welcome the request and look to how you can adapt your product? If you answered yes to the first question you may be too rigid in your business model. Being flexible with your product or service will not only keep your consumers happy but will also open new opportunities for development. Many businesses have started out creating a product that is quite different from what they produce now and its usually down to adapting to the needs of the consumer which, ultimately, generates more revenue. For example, Netflix, the streaming service we know today started as a rental entertainment service where customers could receive DVDs via mail to watch and return. Now it’s hard to imagine not having instant access to films and tv we want to watch. Be open to change and development, it could save your future business.
Plan for the unexpected and act swiftly
In terms of business, if the COVID -19 Pandemic had taught us anything its that we can’t predict what is going to happen tomorrow. We need to be able to make decisions swiftly and always plan for a worst-case scenario. The businesses that have flourished or continued to make a good profit during the pandemic are those who have adapted quickly. An example of this is Gin manufacturer, Gin 58, who quickly modified their manufacturing process to start producing hand sanitiser. Of course, we can’t predict every unexpected situation but we can have a blanket crisis and continuity plan. When unexpected challenges occur consult those whose opinions you trust, create a concise action plan and roll out changes quickly.
Never stop learning
“Just because you are CEO doesn’t mean you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think and the way you approach the organisation” – Indra Nooyi, Former Chairperson and CEO, Pepsico
Even if you’re an expert in your industry there is always more to learn. Learning from your team or employees is a great place to start. Try scheduling regular discussion sessions in which the team can regroup and talk about any challenges they may be facing or any industry news and trends. Sharing information like this an organic way to expand your knowledge within your industry. Professional development is also key for anyone in the business. Taking part in an online course, attending a workshop or virtual roundtable will help you keep up to date with news in your industry, add to your professional portfolio and connect you with others in your field.
The way you market your business should reflect your audience
When it comes to making any kind of purchase most of us look for a provider that reflects our way of thinking, likewise, companies want consumers that hold the same values and priorities they do as they are the people that will most likely buy their product or service. For example, fashion brand Missguided market themselves in a fun, care-free and empowering way because that’s the kind of person they want wearing and promoting their clothes. Similarly, car manufacturer Jaguar will market their latest products in a high end, aspirational manner as their target market is a luxury one. When marketing your product think about your target consumer, what would get their attention and the tone of voice would speak to them.
Many people report a lack of communication as being one of the most frustrating and stressful elements of working life. 63% of employees have considered quitting their job due to poor communication within their company. A lack of communication can result in both your employees or team being unhappy as well as projects and day to day tasks not being completed on time or incorrectly, which will ultimately affect business. Ensure that your employees or team members know that they can come to you if they have a question or query, keep your lines of communication open and don’t distance yourself from your workforce. Consider holding weekly meetings with your team to ensure everyone is clear on what is expected of them and team members can liaise with each other and you about current tasks. You can learn more about effective communication here.
Many qualities contribute towards good business and many people have learnt valuable business lessons the hard way. Think about the lessons you have learned and what you would want your former self to know.