June 1, 2015

Learning from inspirational gamechangers: photo

Here’s a selection of frequently recurring themes that have arisen among the learning pointers put forward by the leading business figures presented in this book:

Entering the market

See what’s missing in the market place, and provide it.

Offer services and products that improve life for as many people as possible.

The starting point for a great business is having a great product or great service to offer;  do your research first.

To be pioneering, think about something the world doesn’t yet realise it’s going to need soon.

Give people value for their money.

You must know what your USP is.

Strategy and objectives

The key questions are: what are we trying to do? how are we trying to do it? and why are we trying to do it? Make a plan, then communicate and empower staff to execute it.

You need to be very clear where you’re going if you want other people to be part of your journey. Do not lose clarity of vision. Never lose sight of whatever it is you’re trying to deliver.

Be absolutely true to fundamental objectives, don’t be tempted to compromise those values, and persist until you find ways to make them work.

Unexpected opportunities can transform your career – grab them; watch out for opportunities that might be slipping by unnoticed. The bigger companies get, the more they struggle with ability to innovate.

Culture will make or break strategy. Even with a well thought-out strategy and plan, if the culture isn’t conducive to realising the plan then it won’t happen.

Subject to all of the above, be daring.

Leadership, partners and staffing

A company is people.  Get great people around you; surround yourself with positive people. Having the right people on board is crucial to success; decisions about who you work with are key; if people don’t fit, you have to let them go. Create a fully committed team that will invest all into the project. Employ people who share your vision with enthusiasm.

Your greatest asset is your people; pay attention to their needs, make them feel involved, and listen when they have something to say – then you get better results from them, and they provide you with valuable ideas. Seek to align the interests and motivation of the staff with the interests of the company.

Employees want to know: am I being listened to, or am I a cog in the wheel? People really need to feel wanted. Empower and enable rather than exploiting them. To get the best out of people, give them ownership over what they are doing. Take on staff with fresh ideas, and empower them to make creative decisions.

Have people you can talk to outside of work.

Additional  business values

It’s absolutely possible for a business to be socially responsible at the same time as making money. Indeed, doing so can make your business all the more financially successful.

Embracing exacting ethical principles in your business can lead to greater success.

Building positive values into your product greatly increases your chances of success, due to the power or the customer in online media – ‘if you don’t do good, you won’t do well’. Authenticity in your activities and in the messages you put out are crucial.

Improvement, failure  and  mistakes

Fail faster – employ a development cycle where you rapidly iterate on concepts and thus shorten time taken to evolve the optimum product.

When something negative happens, there may be a way to turn it into a positive. Learn from your mistakes, and encourage staff to do the same. Regard obstacles and challenges as prompts to potential progress.

Keep on evolving;  embrace innovation and change. Have the courage to break with tradition

When you innovate, you sometimes make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.

Moments of failure and despair are inevitable, but offer the greatest learning for success.

A ‘no’ today doesn’t necessarily mean a ‘no’ tomorrow.

Branding, publicity and promotion

Guard your brand. Your brand is your company’s most important and valuable asset. The brand needs to be who you are, what you are, and what the customers expect.

Passion for your business can help overcome opposition and win you support. Make your passion for the business contagious.

Talk to people widely about what you’re trying to do. Network like mad with mutually sympathetic groups who can advance your cause. Identify “evangelists” who will provide informed support for your product.

Connecting with customers

Engage with your customers; take action to win them over in order to become a trusted brand; they can tell you which direction your business should go. You can never go too far wrong by thinking like a customer who’s new to the business.

Customers who support what you’re doing are the most motivated and most loyal. The public when it mobilises in a cohesive way has huge power. The most successful brands of the future will provide authentic value-led experience for their customers.

Gerry Thompson