For over 25 years I’ve been consulting with SMB owners, participating on boards, running businesses, and reading a whole lot. I’ve found that success rarely comes down to one thing or even one person. That elusive “success” (less than 7% of all start-ups attain sustained success) is the result of several factors working in synergy. Leaving external factors out of the mix — competition, timing, luck and things beyond a business owners direct control — I believe there are four critical criteria that will propel a company forward.
It requires just the right SPIN. Mange these four areas of your company well, and you’ll reap the rewards:
Everyone knows that sales is the engine that drives any company. However, most smaller firms have no structured sales process. There is a lot of attention these days (justifiably) on inbound marketing, nurturing contacts and converting leads… but then what? Many companies are rockin’ their online presence only to find that they are gaining popularity, but not sales. The fault lies not with the inbound marketing tactics, the problem is that few companies have a system for converting leads to sales — at some point marketing needs to transition to sales.
Without a sales process, training program, appropriate support and integration with marketing, the cash register won’t ring. Sales are the lifeblood of any organization and companies that realize this are better poised for healthy growth and stability.
Look up virtually any great historical figure and you’ll find they had a posse; and perhaps what made them so great was their strategic ability to choose a strong team. We all understand the benefits of a team approach. Imagine the exponential effect of a dynamic group of experienced and complementary skilled experts, working synchronously to realize a shared vision. (You’re right, that is rather idealistic. Imagine a few talented people pursuing a common goal… still pretty impressive, eh?)
Applying more and better resources is likely to produce superior results. Running a company is very difficult. With a myriad of concerns, issues, tasks and responsibilities, you will only succeed if you find people you can rely upon to share the load. Choose your team strategically so that you add specific and required strengths to your team. Regardless of the position, your goal is not to hire subordinates — put your ego aside and look for people who are, or can be, better than you.
Doing the same thing, the same way is destined to bring diminishing returns. Even a successful product or service has a lifespan; or competitors who will do a better job than you at providing that product/service. It doesn’t matter what business you are in, your success will be directly linked to your ability to innovate and provide addition value.
Whether it is something new, an innovation to an existing product (e.g. more environmentally friendly, more versatile or convenient, more variety), or advanced technology in producing/providing it (e.g. less expensve, taking advantage of SaaS), there is no success without progress. Constant and conscious evolution of what you do and how you do it is an essential component to ongoing growth.
Active involvement (both online and in-person) with business groups, trade/sector associations, service organizations, as well as truly listening to your clients will help you with all three criteria above. Knowledge is power and being plugged into your various communities will keep you aware, and ahead.
What would you add to my SPIN? (Extra points if it still works as an acronym!)