Anyone who has put the time in to create a business – and then grow it – knows all about the conventional rules you are supposed to follow. They’re a solid starting point, based on many years of collective experience. They are also a good way to find the people you need, get your records in order, operate smoothly and a lot more.
The thing is, some rules are made to be broken, and there are lots of examples of inspirational business leaders who made major changes to the ‘normal’ way of conducting business.
If you want to grow, then one important component is taking a few risks. By changing some of the ways you operate, you can differentiate. Below is our take on four of the rules you really ought to think about breaking.
- “Keep away from your competitors”
Treating competitors as ‘the enemy’ was a common way of doing business in the past, but there are big benefits to be realised from networking a little more and collaborating where appropriate. Especially for smaller operations, you can learn a lot from a competitor’s experiences, and there are ways to help each other in particular circumstances.
- “Never mix business and pleasure”
Your colleagues are people too, and working relationships get a big boost from doing things outside of the office. Not only will you get to know them better personally, but you’ll discover aspects of your operation that you didn’t know about. Socialising with people outside of your immediate function/department is important too – you never know when you’ll need a favour or extra help. You certainly won’t be alone if you schedule family events, work social gatherings and volunteering opportunities – large and small companies are bringing people together in that way.
- “Sell whenever you can”
A little selectivity can go a long way, because not everyone wants or needs what you do. You can get more productive results by sticking to specific target markets, and pinpointing the groups who are most likely to respond. Ideally, you can achieve personalised marketing. That works best if you have carefully defined your ‘perfect client’. Think about age range, location, current circumstances etc. and then find a way to talk to the right group of people.
- “Use past performance to plan ahead”
A contract that’s in the bag is obviously important, and so is money that has made it to your bank. However, if you really want to go from ‘good’ to ‘great’, you should be keeping a close eye on purchase orders and outstanding quotes, so you can better anticipate future business demands. The right accounting software will help, but you need to use it, not just have it. This matters, because a sales pipeline is the single most likely indicator of your future success.