Interested in improving business results? How does the saying go? If you continue to do what you have always done you will get the same result. Well that may or may not be true in business. True, poor processes or poor service will no doubt lead to continued poor results. On the other hand, business results may have been very good but continuing to do the same thing may lead to future decreases in business performance and possibly even business failure. This could be due to factors like changing customer needs, habits or buying processes, new competitor offerings, competitor use of new technologies, new products or services displacing ours, supply chain factors, political changes, economic changes and more. Also, just because results are very good does not necessarily mean they could not be even better.
An essential skill for any small business owner is the ability to challenge the status quo with a view to improving business results, service, products, business processes, staying ahead of competitors, engaging staff or suppliers and ultimately ensuring ongoing success and more profit.
So, business owners and leaders should continually ask questions and seriously challenge the current ways of working. Who should they ask – themselves, their leaders, their staff, their customers, their suppliers and other experts. All of them! Questions for improving business results could include the following and many more.
- Is there is there a better way to deliver our service or product?
- How can we better serve our customers?
- In what ways could we be more efficient?
- Are we properly focused on market opportunities? How can we be better at maximising our market opportunities?
- How could we better engage our staff?
- What do we know about our competitors and what they are doing?
- Do we understand available and potential new technologies and how they could benefit our business (or our competitors if not us)? Have we actually tried to experience these technologies.
- How could we improve our processes to benefit customers, staff and management?
- Have we identified critical risks and implemented mitigation plans? Are we truly prepared if they eventuate?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Take a serious look at competitors and potential competitors. Look at their website. Call them. Visit their premises if they have one. Try buying something. Find their customers and ask them about their experience with the competitor.
- Take a field trip. Go and spend time with customers, visit competitors, visit suppliers. Go to a different market or geographic region to see what they are doing.
- Experiment. Try it. Experiential learning is critical. For example, if you don’t experience a new technology, service or product then how can you understand the potential uses, benefits and implications for your business or how it may be implemented?
- Ask your customers. Talk to them about their needs and their experience of your service or products. Conduct a survey (but make it brief and targeted – don’t bombard them).
- Ask your staff. Engage them in the process. You might be surprised at the ideas and knowledge they have.
- Talk to suppliers. They may have invaluable knowledge about opportunities. They are also likely supplying your competitors and have knowledge about them.
- Look around. Look at other business and industries to see what you can learn from them.
- Do some targeted research. Check out the web, YouTube, readings and other sources.
The capacity to challenge the status quo is a critical skill for business leaders in improving business results. If you would like to find out more about how we can help, please contact Simulthink or click here for more information on our innovation management services.