People often say that starting a business is a difficult and daunting endeavor. While this might be partly true, starting a business is actually the easy part, compared to what follows next. Growing it and setting it up for long-term success is where the true challenge really lies.
Start-up companies are appearing like mushrooms after the rain in almost every industry sector, but only a few of them will live long enough to reach the maturity stage. Statistics reveal a sobering reality: the failure rate for start-ups is around 90%, with 20% failing in the first year of existence. Even if your business manages to survive the first five years, considered to be the most critical and vulnerable ones, the risk of failure is still present.
The reasons for business failure are varied. Some ran out of money or fail to market to the right audience; others lack proper market research or enter bad partnership agreements, and so on. Regardless of the motives, one thing’s for sure – keeping a business afloat is not a task for the faint of heart. Therefore, taking a business to the next level and making it thrive might seem like an impossible job. But it obviously isn’t, since there are plenty of companies out there to prove this wrong.
So, what’s the secret behind improving business performance, and what do the businesses that enjoy long-term success do differently from the ones that struggle to survive? While there is no such thing as a secret recipe or a one-size-fits-all solution to provide the answer to this question, there are certain actions that can get you one step closer to your goals. Here’s what business experts advise you to do.
Assess your current situation
If you want your business to evolve, you have to understand where you’re standing first. A detailed evaluation of your business will help you understand your company’s current performance, and figure out where your weak and strong points lie. Performing a SWOT analysis and conducting thorough market research can help you get the insights that you require to set things into motion. Based on these findings you’ll be able to decide which course of action you should adopt.
Set clear goals
Improving business performance is a pretty broad objective, albeit a very admirable one. This can mean so many different things to different entrepreneurs. You have to be a little more specific and ask yourself what business growth means to you. Chasing after too many goals at the same time can render your efforts useless.
The better approach is to set a few well-defined objectives and focus all your resources on achieving them. Make sure these goals are quantifiable, attainable, and relevant for your business. Try to prioritize them because when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority, and set a deadline for each goal.
Come up with a plan
Now that you know what you need to do, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to do it, and for that, you need to create a plan. This stage of the process implies determining the necessary tasks and actions that you have to perform in order to put your ideas into practice and boost business performance in the near future.
Once you’ve done that, you need to decide who is going to be responsible for handling each individual task. Even if you’re a skilled entrepreneur used to juggling the many demands of a business, you can’t possibly do everything on your own. You’ll also have to create a budget to support your endeavours.
Choose the right people for the right job
The success of every action depends on the person performing it. That’s why you should make sure you match the right talent to the right roles. Working with trained and skilled individuals can make the whole process run a lot smoother.
You can hire a Lean Six Sigma specialist to help you out on your journey, or better yet, you can have someone from your company trained in becoming a Lean Six Sigma professional. Regardless of your approach, it’s important to build a team that you can rely on and that shares your goals and vision. Your employees and partners can become your company’s most valuable assets.
Monitor your progress
The only way you can figure out if your efforts are paying off is by monitoring your progress and results regularly. If the results are not what you expected them to be, it means you have to make some tweaks to your strategy. If you’re seeing considerable improvement in business performance, it means you are on the right track and you should keep up the good work.
This will also help you realize how long you’ve come since you’ve begun your journey and how much further you have to go to achieve your objectives. The feedback you get can set up the course for your next actions and guide your business towards greater efficiency.
Stay on top of industry trends
Things move fast in the business world, regardless of the industry. That’s why you have to keep a close eye on what’s happening in the market and stay on top of industry trends if you want your business to remain relevant and gain a competitive advantage. Knowing what your competitors are up to and what your customers expect from you can guide your business in the right direction, which will ultimately lead to greater performance levels.
Learn from your mistakes
Boosting business performance is not always a linear and straightforward journey as some might think. Finding the right strategy and approach often implies a long and complicated trial and error process. If you manage to overcome the challenges and survive the mistakes you make along the way, you might actually benefit from them. Use what you’ve learned to make smarter business decisions and come up with better strategies in the future. Improving business performance, in the long run, is a marathon, not a sprint, so try to take things one step at a time.