Owning a business is a big commitment. There is no leaving work behind at the end of the day; it is a 24/7 job with no time off for good behavior. Despite this, there is little that is more rewarding than the sense of accomplishment that comes from success in a business venture. Success depends on hard work, dedication and just a little pinch of luck. For the most part, the success of your company rests on your shoulders, but that does not mean you cannot learn from others. From start-ups to international conglomerates, some advice holds true for every business, no matter which sector you operate in.
Research and Development
The world of business changes almost minute by minute and it is essential to stay ahead of the curve – to innovate. Steve Jobs personifies the concept of innovation – pushing every company he was ever involved with to new and previously undreamed of heights, over and over again. Follow his shining example, and never rest on your laurels after one great achievement. There is always someone looking to do what you do better, faster and at a cheaper price – and with lightning fast links provided by the global digital market place you are inevitably in competition with them all. To stay on top, commit resources to research and development, but do not stop there; encourage everyone within the company to communicate ideas for continuous improvement. Promote cross-functionality and collaboration wherever possible.
From the outset it is important to get the price right. Start-ups tend to underprice products and services either through not taking everything into account or a desire to gain customers. Large corporations on the other hand have a tendency to put prices up in an effort to increase profit margins. The former approach spells doom for your company from the outset, whereas the latter relies on an outdated business model. Modern ‘lean’ methodologies allow customers to set the price at the amount they are willing to pay. Profit margins can be increased by eliminating ‘waste’ (non-value added activities) from the operating process and looking for ways to continuously improve. As production becomes more efficient, costs are lowered, so profits increase while prices stay the same.
Brand identity is important and should be maintained across all products manufactured. People will associate your company name with a specific, instantly recognizable style, and know this means quality. Lean methodologies provide many tools to improve quality of end products and overall efficiency of the production system. The important thing is to always put the customer first when designing your production system. Do not add any activity or process that does not somehow create value from the customer’s perspective.
Your marketing has to reach the right target audience, so ensure that you know what this is, then gear every marketing activity towards this. Good marketing is not about telling people specifics of product or service you offer, but about making people feel a connection to the brand – engaging people. Luckily there is not only an increasing number of social channels though which to connect with customers, but many of them are free to use and incredibly effective when used correctly. Social media is simply a souped-up form of word of mouth marketing, which has long been heralded as the most effective.
Much depends on a company’s reputation, so highlight any philanthropic practices to let people know you have values and principles. Successful entrepreneur Sukanto Tanoto provides an incredible example not only of how to do this, but how to effectively apply all the advice above. Born in Indonesia, he started from a young age to build a business empire. Currently, Tanoto is CEO of the esteemed RGE group, as well as operating the Tanoto Foundation – a charitable organization engaged in many forms of corporate philanthropy – aiding young business minds through social support scholarships, teaching of expertise and more. He has a great deal of advice to offer and his own story is an inspiring one.