(As published in the Sunday Star Times, December 14, 2014)
Ninety-nine percent of businesses that I come across seem to have real potential to be success stories. I often think why have they not cracked it yet? What has been holding them back? Why are they lacking confidence in taking their business or their own performance levels to the next level. I thought that I would talk today about two common themes that I see in businesses that are holding them back. And when we crack these, the performance levels that are possible are potentially very, very big!
A big issue I see is that companies do not really know what they are good at. They are sitting on some pretty amazing IP and offerings but do not know what is under their nose. They focus on trying to compete head on with competitors and this means they miss what they are personally really good at. If you want to perform at another level you need to work out what your unique advantage is. It is interesting that I see a lot of companies in brainstorming sessions coming up with unique advantages that are actually not unique, they are what I call “hygiene factors”. So you need to think a bit more laterally to sometimes get to your inner DNA that sets you apart. Customers have the best answers on your unique advantage – ask them. Then do something with what you glean from customers, use it in your marketing, your sales pitch and get your team excited about the special unique advantage that your company has. Remember to not rest on your laurels too with what you are great at, complacency could see your lose your special unique advantages, so keep working on them. One proviso is to obviously make sure that your inside advantage is something that resonates with customers. So what are you going to do to truly identify your company’s unique advantage (a.k.a USP, as in unique selling proposition)?
Another big issue I see (and this seems to be the root of many issues in life too) is communication, or lack of. At the root of most issues is a lack of communication. Why does it take an external person to help you unlock the communication issues that are plagues on your business? Often it is we lack the oomph to have those difficult conversations, as most humans naturally do not like confrontation (and we just bury our head in the sand, hoping they will go away). Good communication helps to promote great individual accountability (ie. people doing their jobs successfully), brilliant teamwork and also the best customer experience. It also enhances the chance a business has to take advantage of opportunities that come their way. I see businesses often that are not taking advantage of being all they could, purely due to some issues at the management, director or shareholder level that are just sitting there, festering. Guys, sit down and talk it through. Those uncomfortable conversations will see a big weight lifted from your shoulders and open up the potential success of your business (or team) go to a whole new level. To be successful takes guts. Open communication and working through issues takes guts. Showing guts will hugely open up the potential success you might get! Where do you need to be braver in your communications and conversations? What are you going to do about it? (We have an HR expert on our team, if you need advice on how to deal with this – just get in touch.)
There are of course many other reasons for companies being held back from their true potential but these are the main two reasons that I come across daily. So my tips are: (1) Identify what sets you apart and use it in a positive way to grow your market share. (2) Address those communication deficiencies that are holding your business back.