5 business lessons you need to learn… fast

James Potts - Legal Services Director

July 01 2019

You’re ambitious, hard-working, and nothing’s going to stand in the way of you and success… That’s probably how you feel on a good day, but not every day is like that, is it? Because even if you have the motivation and the passion, you still need the skills to succeed. And you should never stop learning. So, what are the top five business lessons you need to know now? Let’s take a look…

1. Find and nurture the best talent

Success isn’t a solo pursuit. You could have the world’s best product or service—but it’s not going to sell itself. You’ve got to have the right people behind you, so mastering recruitment is a must. Finding the right candidates can be confusing. The best person on paper might not actually be the best for the job, so be sure to consider character as well as credentials. You won’t see politeness or professionalism on a CV—but they’re essential attributes for a positive workplace. Don’t hire people that are just like you, either. While it can be tempting to take on similar people who’ll get along together, there’s no use in your staff all having the same skillsets. A diverse talent pool makes for a strong workforce. But it’s not just about hiring new talent—you need to nurture your existing talent, too. Competitive salaries are a popular retention tool, but company culture is equally as important. Whether it’s Monday coffee clubs, Friday pub quizzes, flexible working hours, or career progression—people place a lot of stock in the right work environment, so get this right and you’ll be rewarded with staff loyalty. After all, if you look after your staff, you’re looking after your business’s biggest investment—its people.

2. Keep a close eye on cash flow

Failing to manage finances is the number one reason businesses go bust. So, what’s going wrong? The reason most businesses fail is that people focus on the money coming in and not the money going out. But what does keeping an eye on cash flow mean in practice? It could mean paying new suppliers later, sending invoices earlier, managing stock, tracking expenses, or reviewing staff salaries—anything that involves money. It’s also important to regularly step back and look out for any financial warning signs, too. Whether that’s a drop in turnover, late payments, or unnecessary spending—it’s easier to work out ways to improve cash flow before you build up debt. Control your cash flow, and your profits will follow.

3. Stay on top of technology

Technology is constantly changing, and it’s affecting the way we do business. Just look at what Uber has done for transportation. How Airbnb has changed hospitality. Or what Deliveroo has done to the restaurant trade. These tech companies might be big players, but the lesson also goes for SME owners—to move with the times, you have to keep learning. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean going back to the classroom. It could be trying out new apps, attending events, or becoming more social media savvy. Or simply learning from your own mistakes—and making sure you don’t repeat them. The SMEs that thrive are the ones that adapt and evolve with the market, technology, and trends. You either need to love to learn, or get left behind…

4. Switching off is not a waste of time

Throwing every second of your day into your business can only be a good thing, right? Wrong. Studies show that working more than 50 hours per week can actually decrease productivity. Long hours and pressure will pile up and you could find yourself reaching burnout. And that’s bad news for you and for your business. The top CEOs know that we’re designed to rest and reboot. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandburg famously said she leaves the office at 5:30pm every day. Microsoft’s Bill Gates takes phone-free weeks. And Richard Branson wouldn’t have his own island if it was all work and no play… Sometimes success means switching off. And not just you—your employees too. They’ll thank you, as well. It shows that you value them as people with personal lives. And that’s the sort of boss you want to be.

5. You can’t do everything on your own

Accounting. Customer service. Social media marketing. When you’re running a business, you have to be prepared to be versatile… But juggling multiple roles is time-consuming, stressful and unsustainable. The smartest leaders know how to delegate. It’s easier said than done. One survey said that almost 50% of entrepreneurs found it difficult to let go of control—but delegating is crucial to an SME’s success. It might be more effort upfront, but sharing workloads and responsibilities will save you time in the long-term, freeing you up to focus on more important aspects of your work. Delegating also sends a clear message to your employees that you trust them, value their skills, and want to help them succeed in their careers. So you’re not just managing your time effectively—you’re improving your company culture, too. Want to outsource your HR and free up your time? Call us today.

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